Hurricane Season Is Here Again. Check Out This Good Advice From The RI Insurance Division.

The time to prepare for a hurricane is NOW! Here is a very good guide from the RI Insurance Division specificaly for consumers. It outline steps you can begin to take now to minimize the impact a hurricane might have on you and your family.

Check out the details at: http://www.dbr.state.ri.us/documents/divisions/insurance/consumers/ConsumerAlert2013-6.pdf

And don’t forget….IF YOU WANT COVERAGE FOR FLOOD.. YOU MUST BUY A FLOOD POLICY! The homeowners and other property policies DO NOT COVER FLOOD!
Ask us for a quote and information about the National Flood Insurance Program.

How do I file a homeowners claim?

If someone has become injured on your property or if a violent storm destroys your home, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company. Remember, a homeowners policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. And there are rules and procedures that you and your insurer must follow. Read your insurance policy to see what your responsibilities are.

Report any crime to the police If you are the victim of a theft or your home has been vandalized or burglarized, report it to the police. Get a police report and the names of all law enforcement officers that you speak with.

Phone your agent or company immediately Insurance policies place a time limit on filing claims. Find out what the time limit is. Ask questions: Am I covered? Does my claim exceed my deductible? (Your deductible is the amount of loss you agree to pay yourself when you buy a policy.) How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage?

Make temporary repairs Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Prepare a list of lost or damaged articles You are going to need to substantiate your loss. Avoid throwing out damaged items until the adjuster has visited your home. You should also consider photographing or videotaping the damage. Prepare a home inventory, make a copy for your adjuster and supply him or her with copies of receipts from damaged items.

If you need to relocate, keep your receipts If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep records of all additional expenses incurred. Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for the “loss of use” of your home.

Get claim forms Once your insurance company has been notified of your claim, the company is required to send you the necessary claim forms to you by the end of a specified time period. (The time period varies from state to state.) Return the properly filled out forms as soon as possible in order to avoid delays.

Have an adjuster inspect the damage to your home Your insurance company will probably arrange for an adjuster to come and inspect your home.

Once you and your insurance company agree on the terms of your settlement, state laws require that you be sent payment promptly. In most cases, your claim will be processed quickly. If you have any questions about the claim filing laws in your state, call your insurance agent or your state department of insurance.

Courtesy of The Insurance Information Institute

Safety Tips for Black Friday Shoppers

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is the biggest shopping day of the year. When it comes to cashing-in on the day’s deals, the motto is “If you snooze you lose.”

Many stores will open at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and some retailers will even open their doors on Thanksgiving eve in hopes that they can entice people out of their post-turkey dinner food coma. For serious bargain-hunters, the day is the ultimate shopping extravaganza that requires a strategic plan, including store maps and item locations, that’s hatched days in advance. Others take a less organized approach, but are still hungry for a deal or this year’s hottest holiday toy.

The combination of too-good-to-be-true deals and shoppers hopped up on copious amounts of caffeine and tryptophan can be dangerous, though. Overzealous drivers can make parking lots a zoo and sleep-deprived shoppers are less likely to pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, Black Friday, which is considered the unofficial start to the holiday season, also brings out thieves, pickpockets, and others who are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers.

Whether you’re leaving the house at the crack of dawn (or dusk) in search of Black Friday deals or saving your holiday shopping for the last minute, keep these safety tips in mind when navigating the parking lots and wandering the aisles.

On the Road and in the Parking Lot:
• When backing out of a parking spot, be aware of waiting cars, others who are backing out at the same time, and motorists who speed through lanes.
• Lock all doors and roll up all windows even when leaving the car for a short period of time.
• When shopping, keep gifts in the trunk or hidden from view in the interior of the car. Also, put all of your packages in the trunk before departing one parking lot and driving to another. Waiting until your next shopping destination allows others to see packages go into the trunk of your car and then you departing into the mall or store.
• Avoid parking next to vans and large trucks that block your space from general vision of others.
• Make a mental note or write down exactly where you park your car to avoid wandering around longer than necessary.
• During the day, park away from buildings to reduce the chance of dings from car doors or shopping carts. At night, avoid secluded areas and park directly under lights whenever possible.
• Have your keys in hand when leaving a store. Also, look underneath your car before you reach it; criminals have been known to lie underneath in wait.
• Bring gifts in the house with you instead of leaving them in the car.

In the Store:
• Use a credit card to avoid thefts of large amounts of cash that are irreplaceable.
• Shopping with a single credit card is preferable because it’s easier to cancel one, rather than several, if your wallet or purse is stolen.
• Keep purses zipped and close to your body. Never leave a purse unattended in a shopping cart where it is more susceptible to theft.
• Keep a reference list of phone and account numbers for all your credit cards in a safe place at home.
• If possible, carry keys, cash, and credit cards separate from each other.
• For freedom of motion and clear visibility, do not overload yourself with bags when leaving a store and returning to your car. It’s difficult to defend yourself with when you’re carry a lot of packages.
• Use ATMs in well-populated, well lit locations. Do not throw ATM receipts away at the ATM location.
• Remember there is increased safety in numbers. Avoid walking alone and leave malls and stores well before closing time to assure a more active parking lot. Ask mall security to walk you to your car if you feel you are not safe.

In additions to remembering these safety tips, you should also review your insurance policies with your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to make sure you have the proper coverage in case an accident or theft does occur. Liability coverage will protect you if you hit another motorist, collision coverage will cover the damage to your car, and comprehensive coverage will insure you for damage by vandals or theft of your vehicle.

Want to make a little money on the side? Don’t assume you are covered! See this article about Uber

Personal auto policies were never intended to cover you if you were getting paid to drive people around like a taxi cab but all over the country people are charging forward with ride sharing services like Uber. This is an interesting article that points out some of the potential problems. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2014/03/14/323329.htm#.UycGu9vRuao.email

Why Do They Keep Increasing The Amount Of Insurance On My House?

Every day people ask us why their insurance company increases the amount of coverage on their house when it would not sell for that much. The short answer is that the cost of building materials are increasing every day and since your insurance should be enough to rebuild your house with “Like kind and quality”, these increases are needed to keep you properly protected. The “Market Value” of your house has nothing to do with the amount of insurance you need to carry.  Some find this hard to understand but it realy is in your best interest to have proper coverage on your single biggest asset.  Here is what the government says about what has happended to building materials in recent years http://www.dcd.com/pdf_files/1201trends.pdf

Hurricane Deductibles Explained

Today marks the official beginning of Hurricane Season and so we thought this information about Hurricane Deductibles would be of help to you as you prepare to weather any storms that might come our way http://www.iii.org/issues_updates/hurricane-and-windstorm-deductibles.html

Do You Have The Right Coverage?

Rental Car Insurance: To Buy or Not to Buy?

As the holiday season approaches, millions of Americans will take to the roads to visit family and friends. Since many will make the trip in a rented car, it’s an appropriate time to discuss one of the most frequently asked questions of agents and brokers all over the country: “Should I buy the insurance from the rental car company?”
 
Following are a few considerations when mulling this important decision:
 

DAMAGE WAIVER & YOUR PERSONAL AUTO POLICY

First, the good news: In many cases, a personal auto insurance policy will cover damage to a rented vehicle. That said—don’t get too comfortable! There are other costs associated with damage to a rented vehicle that the policy will not cover. For this reason, careful consideration should be given to purchasing the damage waiver offered by the rental car company. 
 
On your personal auto policy, “Collision” insurance covers your vehicle for damage resulting from a collision with another object. “Comprehensive” (sometimes called “Other Than Collision”) covers your vehicle for theft, vandalism, falling objects and other causes not resulting from a collision. If you have a car loan, your lender will require you to purchase both. If you pay the loan off, the choice to purchase collision or comprehensive—and both or neither—is up to you.
 
Your personal auto policy will only cover damage to the rental car if you have the appropriate coverage type on at least one vehicle you own. For example, if you damage the rental car in a collision, you must have “collision” coverage on at least one vehicle covered by your personal auto policy. But if the rental car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged in any way not resulting from a collision, you must have “comprehensive” coverage on at least one vehicle covered by your personal auto policy. The key point: If your personal auto policy excludes the coverage type that damages the rental car—and you reject or violate the damage waiver—you will become personally responsible for paying all costs related to the damaged rental car out of your own pocket!
In contrast, the damage waiver usually offered at the rental counter will cover the damaged rental car regardless of what’s covered by your personal auto policy.
 

LIMITATIONS IN YOUR PERSONAL AUTO POLICY

What else could you possibly owe the rental company following an event or crash? These include administrative fees and the depreciated value of the vehicle after repairs—neither expense is covered by your personal auto policy. In addition, most personal auto policies only pay up to the actual cash value (ACV) of the damaged vehicle. If the contract requires the damaged rental’s replacement, the ACV payout may not be sufficient to cover the entire expense.
 
Again, in contrast, the damage waiver will cover all such expenses.  
 
Also, the rental contract likely will require you to pay the rental company’s “loss of use.” These are expenses they incur resulting from the inability to earn income from the damaged rental. This cost could be hundreds of dollars or more. Some personal auto policies will pay a limited amount for this expense (such as $20 per day or $600 total). Others will not cover it at all.
 
In contrast, the damage waiver will pay the full cost of the rental company’s loss of use.
 

NO CLAIM NECESSARY

If something happens to the rental car, purchasing the damage waiver gives the rental agency management of the process. This will allow you to avoid filing a claim and possibly help keep the cost of your insurance from going up. It also will keep your deductible in your pocket.   
 

LIMITATIONS IN THE DAMAGE WAIVER

Don’t forget that the rental car company’s damage waiver is a contract. It will include a list of restrictions that, if violated, may terminate the waiver and leave you personally responsible for paying the costs associated with the damaged rental car. Examples of such restrictions may include:
 
• Damage to rental while driven by someone not specifically named on the contract.
• Damage to rental while driven on unpaved roads.
• Damage to rental while it’s being occupied by more passengers than available seatbelts.
• Damage that occurs while pushing or towing.
 
This list is only a sample; the typical damage waiver may include additional restrictions.
 
Moreover, the car rental company’s loss damage waiver covers “diminished value,” the economic reduction in value of a repaired auto due to it having been damaged. Almost all auto policies and many credit card coverages exclude diminished value. What’s the impact to you? If you don’t take the damage waiver, you could get hit with a diminished value claim of $1,500 or more, depending on your type of damaged rental car.
 

DAMAGE WAIVER COVERS VEHICLE DAMAGE ONLY

Perhaps the most important fact to remember is that the damage waiver only applies to damage to the rented vehicle. It is not a substitute for liability, medical payments, uninsured motorist, personal injury protection, and any other personal auto insurance coverage.  
 

OTHER PRODUCTS OFFERED BY RENTAL COMPANY

In addition to the damage waiver, most rental car companies offer a few optional insurance-type products. For example, some may offer a liability enhancement that gives you the option to increase the liability limits you already carry on your personal auto insurance policy. Depending on your available auto liability insurance, this option may be worth consideration.
 
Others may offer options such as accidental death, trip cancellation, or damaged luggage insurance during the rental period. Such options vary by company and may provide insurance dollars you cannot get elsewhere. However, they should not be purchased without first reviewing your current home, health and auto insurance policies as there may be duplication.
 

CONCLUSION

In light of the information above, you should seriously consider—and probably buy—the damage waiver from the rental car company. Deciding whether to purchase other products from the rental firm, however, depends largely on the insurance already available to you from other sources. For assistance in determining coverage you already have and comparing it to the rental company’s options, call your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent today.  
 
Business Travel Note: When you rent a car on a business trip, that’s an entirely different set of decisions, so again please talk with your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent.

Insurance Company Emergency Claims Numbers

 
Andover Companies (Merrimack Mutual and Cambridge Mutual)
Email:  claims@andovercos.com
Phone: (800) 225-0770
Fax: (800) 323-5112

EMC Insurance Companies (Employers Mutual Casualty)
Phone: 1-888-362-2255    
 
Fidelity National Insurance Company
Phone: 1-800-220-1351
Fax: 1-800-491-7683
Email: fnic-claims@fnf.com
 
GMAC Insurance Company 
Phone: 1-800-468-3466
 
Metropolitan Property and Casualty 
Phone: 1-800-854-6011
 
National Grange (Main Street America Group)
Phone:  877-425-2467
Email: FNOL@msagroup.com
 
New London County Mutual
Phone: 800-962-0800
Fax:  860-886-8270 
 
Peerless Insurance Company
Phone: 800-522-7152
  
Progressive
Phone: 800-444-4487
 
Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association (RIJRA)
Phone: 1-866-384-3803
  
Travelers
Phone: 800-252-4633
Boat & Yacht Claims  800-772-4482
 
 
 

Your Local Trusted Choice Agency