McCurdy Group - Insurance and Financial Consultants

Monday, January 14, 2019

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Theft Outside the Home?

True or false? Does homeowners insurance cover theft outside your home? If you said false, that's okay. Not many people know that in many cases, their homeowner's policy is a catch-all insurance policy for incidents that occur outside their home, including theft.

Many personal property losses due to theft outside your home may be covered by off-premises coverage, which is included standard in many policies. (And if it is not included in your policy, an off-premises rider to your coverage can be added for a small extra charge.)

Your homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for your items while you are traveling too,
covering you in the event of lost luggage, items stolen from your hotel room, and loss of any personal possessions you ship back home during your travels. So if you are planning to travel, make certain that your homeowners insurance policy coverage protects all the valuable items that you bring along on the trip.

By the way, did you know that if your children are college students, your homeowner's policy may even extend to losses from theft they suffer? That's right! Many policies include off-premises coverage that extends to the homeowner's children who are students and live in the dorm. So property stolen from a dorm room, or when they're studying, such as a laptop stolen while they were at the library, may be covered. (Any homework stored on the stolen laptop won't be covered. It is, however, a better excuse than the old "dog ate my homework"!)


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Certificates of Insurance: What You Need to Know

When a contractor works on someone else's property, there are risks involved. Companies (and individuals) that hire contractors want to be sure they won't be held responsible for any damages or injuries that may occur. Because of this, they will often request to see a certificate of insurance.

A certificate of insurance (COI) is a standardized document that offers evidence of insurance coverage. Included on the certificate will be the contractor's coverage types (and their effective dates), as well as liability limits.

COI's are very important. If you were to hire a subcontractor and they caused a large amount of property damage, your company could be held accountable for those damages. It's imperative to obtain proof of insurance because even though your contract with the subcontractor may state that insurance coverage is required, you could find yourself involved in a lawsuit if the coverage was, in fact, not in place. Even if you have a history with your subcontractor and may have worked with them before (and they were insured then), you should request a COI for each new job. 

In addition to ensuring that you won't be responsible for damages or injuries that may occur on the job, a COI also guarantees that you can collect compensation for poorly done or unfinished work. Not all heroes wear capes, and not all certificates are valid. Contractors may give false or forged coverage information, or they may allow insurance to lapse after attaining the COI form. One of the most efficient and dependable ways to obtain a COI is to request it directly from the insurance company or agent, rather than getting it through the contractor.

    Insured Name: Be sure that the name listed as insured on the form is an exact match to the name of the person or company you are dealing with.
    Policy Dates: Be sure that effective dates of the policy are valid. If the policy is scheduled to expire before the job will be completed, you will need another COI to cover those dates.
    Coverage Type: At the very least, be sure the certificate holder has both general liability insurance (to protect against damages) and workers compensation insurance (to protect injured employees.)
    Liability Limits: Be sure that the limits held by the contractor meet the limits required of your workers. If they are too low, you can request that the contractor purchase additional coverage (and present you with a new certificate reflecting this new amount.)
    Additional Insureds: Asked to be named as an 'additional insured party' for the extent of the job that you're hiring the worker for.
    Agency Contact Info: Be sure that there is a number and/or name of someone you can reach out to at the insurance agency should you have any questions.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Happy Holidays

No matter what holiday you celebrate -- and this time of year has a plethora of them -- the holidays mean family get-togethers, celebrations, good times catching up with good friends, and parties -- lots of them. And parties mean plenty of food, laughter, and beverages of all kinds. 

During the holidays it's time to be especially careful when entertaining, and especially careful in New England where we have more seasonal hazards like ice, snow, sleet, cold.  And while 'tis the season to be jolly, when it comes to alcoholic beverages, they need to be handled and served with care.

So allow me to get right to the point right out of the gate. YOU CAN BE SUED as a homeowner, business owner, or tenant. Anyone who provides alcoholic beverages has enormous responsibility and risk.

Yes, even as a homeowner entertaining a few friends or relatives can unwittingly create danger. Friend and family over-indulging in alcoholic beverages can lead to serious consequences. Even as a social host you have responsibilities to your guests and to the general public.

Below you will find a few tips that may help. In fact, just being aware of these is a good starting point.

Have fun, be safe…

As a party host, you probably don't want to think about your potential liquor liability. But it's something you'll want to consider as your party planning gets under way this holiday season.
That’s because most states hold party hosts who offer excessive alcohol to their guests responsible for those guests' actions behind the wheel (or for serving alcohol to minors). In those states, anyone injured by a drunk driver has the right to sue the host of the party who served the alcohol. Sometimes, criminal charges may even apply.

A 2017 jury verdict shows just what can happen -- $3.5 million jury verdict last year against a family serving alcohol to teenagers (this could have been adults as well). A young female guest left with a male guest who was obviously drunk. The boy caused a terrible accident that left the girl with brain damage.

Here is how you can help and prevent a tragedy:
·      Limit guests to people you actually know -- and seriously consider cutting from your list anyone who habitually overindulges.
·      Encourage your guests to choose a designated driver before they arrive.
·      Serve plenty of nonalcoholic drinks and food to help counter the effects of the alcohol.
·      Have activities like dancing or games going on that don't involve alcohol.
·      Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends.
·     Offer to call a cab or be the designated driver for anyone who appears intoxicated.

Have a happy and safe holiday season. And remember: "The best insurance is prevention."

Monday, December 17, 2018

Bad Santa: Protect Your Clients Against Theft This Holiday Season

Article by Will Jones in IA Magazine

2014 marked nearly 15,000 home thefts during November, December and January, according to Nationwide claims data.

The holiday season might be a time of goodwill, a time to celebrate and a time to put your feet up, but this time of year also presents increased risks for homeowners.

"The holidays are a festive time, but there are lots of moving parts and it's hectic -- people get lost in it," says Lisa Lindsay, executive director, Private Risk Management Association. "Absent a plan, they’re likely to not pay attention to things that are important."

Don't let the Grinch steal Christmas. Help your clients avoid expensive losses by sharing these four tips:

Prepare for porch pirates. In 2016, nearly 26 million Americans had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep, up from 23.5 million porch thefts reported in 2015, according to a study released by InsuranceQuotes.

As online shopping becomes more popular, increasing the number of deliveries to homes, clients should be prepared for these types of  porch pirates.

While technology like smart motion detectors and cameras can alert you when someone's on your porch, Lindsay says there are also "some simple things that don’t require an investment in technology."

Tips include making sure you're home when you’re expecting a delivery, sending deliveries to your office, asking a neighbor to take in a package or utilizing a pickup service such as Amazon Locker, which "allows you to pick up a package at your convenience," Lindsay says.

Protect information online. In 2017, fraud attempts between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Eve increased by 22%, while the number of online transactions increased by 19%, according to ACI Worldwide, an electronic payments solutions company.

When shopping online, "make sure you’re on a secure site" -- one marked with "https," Lindsay says. A secure site is marked by a small padlock item in the corner of the URL and, compared to websites that begin their URL with just "http," that extra "s" literally stands for "secure."

Second, "use credit over debit," Lindsay says. "With a credit card, you have some recourse if somebody steals your information. As we all know, a debit card comes right out of your bank account." Of course, looking out for any unusual activity on bank statements or credit reports is another important preventative measure to guard against online fraud.

And never do something like this: You're at the mall and you can’t find the gift you’re looking for, so you decide to sit down, log in to the public Wi-Fi and start searching for it.

“It’s through the use of public Wi-Fi that your personal information is transmitted, and there are people out there that are seeking to capture it," Lindsay says. "I would really encourage people to use a secure network or wait until they get home to make that purchase."

Leave the lights on. Your clients might be headed out of town this holiday season, but remember: Crime doesn't take a vacation.

That's why it's important to "make sure it appears like you're home," says Lindsay, who recommends putting a stop on newspapers and mail, as well as leaving lights on. After securing the premises and making sure alarm systems are in working order, "we also recommend that people have someone check on their home while they're away," she adds.

Additionally, "think about having a social media plan," Lindsay says. "People get lost in the moment of wanting to share where they're going and for how long -- but that's an advertisement of where you’re not."

Display the tree, not the presents. The average burglar spends eight to twelve minutes in a home, according to the FBI -- and that means clients who intend to stay close to home this holiday season aren't immune to thieves either.

Homeowners should always lock doors and windows before leaving the house, and those who hide a key nearby should consider changing the location or removing it altogether during the holidays. Another key tip: Wait until the last moment to lay out gifts to avoid them being spotted from outside.

Lastly, "During the holidays, there's usually a lot of people coming in and out of the home, especially if somebody's hosting a holiday party," Lindsay says. "If you plan on entertaining or having people in your home, just be mindful of putting your personal items such as checkbooks, wallets and credit cards away."


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Will Your Christmas Party Be Holiday Cheer or a Potential Lawsuit?

Most states have laws, which govern the operation of bars, taverns, restaurants or any other businesses who are required to have a liquor license in order to sell and serve liquor. State laws further define the responsibilities of these business owners for the actions of their customers who leave their place of business after having too much to drink. These businesses are encouraged to purchase a Liquor Liability Insurance Policy to provide protection for potential lawsuits due to property damage or bodily injury caused by an intoxicated customer. 

Many states extend liquor liability to any "social host" who continues to serve liquor to anyone who appears to have had too much to drink and will likely be driving home. So if you plan to have a company Christmas party where liquor or alcohol will be served, there are some precautions you may want to take:
  • Contact your State Department of Insurance to see if current state law will hold you and your company liable for the actions of your party guests.
  • Contact your business insurance agent to see if a Special Event Liquor Liability Policy is available in your state.

  • If possible, have the party at a location other than on company property.
  • Don't make attendance mandatory or require employees to work if they don't attend; this makes it definitely a company event.
  • It is best to hire an outside bartender, since an "open bar" allows members of management and employees to serve alcoholic drinks to other employees. The bartender should have enough training to recognize when someone has had too much to drink.
  • Don't serve drinks at the table. Require everyone to come to the bar so the bartender can see them.
  • Serve lots of food and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Have someone keep an eye on your guests, to recognize when someone has had too much alcohol.
  • Keep an eye on everyone as they leave the party to determine whether or not they are sober enough to drive.
  • Make arrangements for transportation for those who shouldn't get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
You may even want to consider an "alcohol free" Christmas party. You will just have to weigh the advantage of alcohol over the potential for workers comp claims or lawsuits due to sexual harassment, property damage or bodily injury which might result from the actions of an intoxicated party guest or employee.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Water, Water Everywhere: Loss Data May Surprise You

Water damage is the leading cause of property-related losses for homeowners, according to Chubb claims data.

A recent Travelers report reveals similar findings: After analyzing eight years of claims data, the insurer found that 20% of homeowners claims were attributable to non-weather water issues including plumbing, sewer or appliance leaks and failures -- making non-weather water losses the second most common homeowners claim, after wind (24%). Meanwhile, 11% of homeowners claims were caused by weather-related water.

Beyond just contributing to claims frequency, water is also the culprit in many devastating losses. Travelers reports that non-weather water and weather-related water damage accounted for 17% and 7% of the most expensive homeowners claims in 2009-2016, respectively -- and since 2015, water losses exceeding $500,000 have doubled, while those exceeding $1 million have tripled, according to Chubb.

Despite all this evidence, however, consumers may not be taking water threats as seriously as they should. Regarding weather-related water losses, Chubb reports that nearly half of homeowners believe weather reporting is "regularly" or "frequently" exaggerated, and 36% believe it’s "sometimes" exaggerated.

Furthermore, between summer 2017 and 2018 -- a timeframe that encompassed one of the worst hurricane seasons on record -- Chubb reports that 64% of homeowners did not change their home protection strategies. But people are still at risk from hurricanes even if they don’t live near the coast: 33% and 31% of Chubb’s Hurricane Harvey and Irma claims, respectively, were 25-50 miles away from the shoreline. And hurricane or not, flood remains the No. 1 disaster in the U.S., says Ana Robic, COO, Chubb Personal Risk Services.

"A lot of people think, 'This is never going to happen to me -- this is only a problem in X location,'" says Tanya Brown-Giammanco, lead researcher on the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s Hurricane Harvey Wind Damage Investigation Report. "But most locations in the U.S. are prone to some kind of disaster."

Non-weather water can also be more devastating than many homeowners may realize. "Once a consumer has a water loss, they’re definitely more aware of it for the next time," says Angi Orbann, vice president of Product Personal Insurance at Travelers. "But other than that, consumers typically aren’t thinking about those type of water losses."

And if a homeowner is away and doesn't notice a leak immediately, "the damage can be quite severe," Orbann adds. "Think about a two-story home where there’s a bathroom on the second story. If that hose line goes, it’s easy for it to be running down to the downstairs and possibly the basement for eight hours or longer if you’re away for a weekend. Those claims tend to be very disruptive."

Robic outlines a real-life scenario in which a homeowner was away on vacation when their washing machine hose burst, causing water to run unmonitored for several days. The water caused significant damage to the first and second floors of the home, including substantial damage to a newly renovated kitchen on the first floor.

At McCurdy Insurance, we will talk with you about your most common and most expensive risks and advise you on how to prepare for or prevent some of those losses.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Car Rental Insurance A Redundant Expense . . . Or Is it?

"You want the insurance, right?" asks the young man behind the counter at ACME Car Rental. "You know, like just in case. You know. Right?"

Maybe you know, maybe you don't. You stare at the legal pad-size document, and squint to read the Collision/loss damage waiver, liability coverage, medical payment coverage, personal injury protection, and so on all printed in 8 point type.

Here's our advice. Before you rent a car, review the coverage on your personal car insurance policy. In many policies, the coverage your auto policy extends to a rental car. So buying rental car insurance may duplicate the coverage you already have.

If you are unsure, give us a call. We'll review the following with you:
·   Does liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage and any deductibles extend to rental car agreements? Coverage may not apply if a rental car is stolen or damaged, so you may need supplemental.
·   Are towing fees for rental cars covered?
·   Does your homeowners or renters insurance extend to personal items in a rented car?
·   Does your auto policy offer loss of income coverage? The rental car company may charge you for what they could have earned had a damaged car not needed repair.
Also, call your credit card company. If you pay for a rental car with a major credit card, the card issuer may offer secondary car rental insurance at no charge. Note: Coverage extensions from your existing policy or your credit card may not apply if you’re renting a car for business.

Armed with the above answers, review your rental coverage options. And remember: Never sign anything or agree to coverage without reading the policy thoroughly.