McCurdy Group - Insurance and Financial Consultants

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Preventing Fire Losses

When is the last time you did a fire safety check at your business? Fire safety is important business. Experts have identified the most frequent causes of loss and how to reduce the extent of damage when accidents occur. Below are questions designed to help you decide whether you need to take additional precautions to control the risk of fire.

§ Are employees trained in fire safety?
o   Do they know exactly what to do if a fire starts?
o   Is extra training given to those responsible for storage areas, housekeeping, maintenance and operations where there are open flames or flammable substances are used or stored?
§ Do you have the right type, size and number of fire extinguishers? Your fire department or fire protection equipment supplier can best advise you.

§ Are the fire extinguishers serviced and tagged annually?
o   Do you review with employees at least once a year where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them?

§ If needed, have you modernized your electrical system? Faulty wiring causes a large percentage of nonresidential fires.
o   Are electrical panels accessible, with at least three feet of clearance and labeled? Except for temporary use (or surge protection for sensitive electronics such as computers) electrical equipment should be plugged directly into an outlet, rather than into extension cords.

§ Do you regularly check your heating system?

§ Does your building have a fire alarm system connected to the local fire department or an alarm company?

§ Have smoke detectors been installed, and are they regularly tested?
§ Does your building have a sprinkler system to douse fires?
o   If so, is it serviced, including a main drain test, at least annually?
o   Is your sprinkler system the right one for your kind of building and the materials used in your business? Different types of buildings and contents require different types of fire suppression systems. Your insurance carrier, alarm company or local fire department can assist you in choosing the most appropriate type of system.

§ Have you posted "No Smoking" signs?
o   Do you enforce the rule?
o   Is there evidence of smoking?

And while I have you thinking about fire safety, think about your business interruption coverage too. Fire is one of the costliest perils that affect businesses. And while business interruption insurance is often a part of the overall property insurance coverage for a commercial property, you want to ensure that you are covered for many of the costs of shutting down your business and restoring operations—in addition to the separate coverage for direct property losses provided in your standard fire insurance policy.

Unsure as to all that your policy covers? Give us a call at 508-347-9343 and we’ll review your policy with you. Remember, the best insurance is prevention.
 (Source: Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org)

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

AirBnB: Questions You Should Ask Before You Rent Out Your Home

A lot of events happen in our area: The Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show, the Patriots in the
play-offs, college graduations (20+ in Central MA within a 30-mile radius). All these events are tempting times to make a little extra cash by renting out your home on sites like AirBnB. But do you
know the risks and liabilities? Do you know exactly what your homeowners policy covers?

If you rent out your home for a one-time event, you may be covered, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), but different insurers have different requirements. Some may require advance notice; others might want you to purchase an endorsement (an add-on) to your homeowners policy to provide broader coverage for the renter. (III)

Or, if you're planning to rent your home for short periods on an ongoing basis, (e.g., all three Brimfield show weeks) some insurers may consider that a "business" and require you to purchase
business insurance. (III) And, if you're planning to rent your home for a longer period of time, say six
months, you will likely need a landlord policy. (III)

Now, let's talk personal property . . . of a paying guest, that is. Is their personal property covered by
your homeowners insurance policy? Most likely not. The property of a paying guest would not be covered by a typical homeowners policy. If something, such as a fire, occurs while the paying guest is staying in your home, their own renters or homeowners policy may cover the loss of their personal property.

And what about your personal property? What if a paying guest steals your property during their stay? Sorry, but you likely won't be covered by your homeowners insurance either. There are typically exceptions on a homeowners policy for theft that takes place in the part of a residence being rented to a paying guest.

Oh boy…what if my guest injures somebody or causes damage to a neighbor's property? Does my
homeowners insurance cover that? (Cringe) Most likely not. While the liability coverage of your homeowners policy typically does protect you from financial loss if you're legally obligated to pay for another person's injuries or for damage you do to their property; it will typically not extend to a guest.

If your paying guest was responsible for another person's injury or property damage, they would
need to look to their own renters or homeowners policy for liability coverage.

Okay, but what if my guest damages my own property? Surely now I would be covered. Don't hate me, please, but your policy most likely won't cover these types of damages, either. Your homeowners insurance won't likely consider a broken television, for example, a "named peril." And to
add salt to this wound, most homeowners / renters policies exclude property damage to a rental
property.

So what precautions should you take before renting out your home, even for one day? First and foremost, call us. We will help you to understand what your existing homeowners policy may or may not cover, what exclusions might apply, and if an endorsement is necessary.

We recommend, too, that you do your due diligence. "Do a thorough interview of anyone before giving them access to your home. Most home sharing sites offer a screening service that gives you an overview of a candidate's background, but you likely want to go further, asking for identification, doing reference checks, asking for deposits (much like you would do when taking on a rental tenant as a landlord). You might also require any paying guests to have their own homeowners or renters insurance policy; check to see what their policy covers (liability, for instance) and consider whether their insurance is extensive enough to help you avoid any undue risk." (nolo.com)

(Sources: https://www.airbnb.com; http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/insurance-questionswhen-renting-out-your-home-short-term.html; http://www.iii.org/article/what-type-of-insurance-do-i-need-ifim-renting-out-my-home)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Top 3 Auto Perils Between March and May

What do you think are the top three hazards car owners face between March and May? If you said
hail, water, and wind you’d be correct.

The insurance industry relies heavily on historical data to predict the future. According to Farmers Seasonal Smarts Digest, while April showers may bring May flowers, many of us will also deal with another spring weather phenomenon -- hail and lots of it.

Keep your vehicle in a garage or under a carport / awning during a hailstorm. If covered parking isn't
available, you may want to consider a hail blanket or specialized car cover. Make sure all coverings
are secure, as the wind associated with hailstorms can blow loose covers away.

High winds are also perilous to cars. From falling tree limbs to tornado debris, wind damage can be
extensive. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind during high winds:
  • Never try to outrun a tornado. You would need to drive more than 70 miles per hour to outrun the fastest tornado.
  • While an overpass may seem like a great spot to wait out a hailstorm, it may put you and your car in greater danger, since hailstorms often are part of larger severe weather systems that may include tornadoes. Stopping under an overpass can result in even more damage to your car and occupants, if high winds, as well as the debris picked up by those winds, move through the underpass.
Warmer weather also brings an increased risk for damage from flash flooding brought about by spring's strong storm season, as well as windshield and body damage caused by gravel pieces from
newly-formed potholes on roads across the country. Nearly 500,000 insurance claims each year
are directly related to damage from potholes.

Keep an eye out for "covered" potholes. Potholes can fill with water following a storm or as roadside
snow melts, which makes them harder to notice and their depth difficult to judge. A good rule of thumb is to safely avoid mysterious puddles.

Know where your route will take you at all times and understand if you're driving (or even parking)
near drainage channels, underpasses or similar areas. These are areas where flash flooding can occur at any time, regardless of whether typical warning signs like rain clouds or heavy rain are
present.

And lastly, don't panic if you're caught in a flood. If you're inside your vehicle, you should consider
staying where you are and waiting for rescue if safety permits.
(Source: https://www.farmers.com/news/seasonal-smarts/)

Monday, March 4, 2019

Water Damage: A Renter’s Potential Nightmare


According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org), water damage is the second most common cause of property damage. Yet, 63% of renters do not have renters insurance. Many tenants presume their landlord's insurance policy will cover the damage to their belongings. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

A landlord's insurance covers repairs the building itself, not the renter's personal possessions. With winter’s chill upon us, if a pipe were to freeze and break thus flooding the apartment’s interior, the landlord would be responsible for repairing the pipe and any damage to the structure. As a tenant, you would be responsible for replacing your personal property.

Or let’s flip that around. Let’s say you caused the water damage due to an overflowing tub or sink causing water damage not only to your apartment, but to other units in the building as well. A renters policy can protect property damage to others. 

Renters insurance covers your personal property in the event of a disaster. And it’s not expensive. The average policy, depending on coverage is about $15 per month for $30,000 policy (Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America). A basic renters insurance policy covers:
  • Frozen pipe breaks
  • Windstorm or hail
  • The weight of sleet, snow or ice
  • Fire sprinkler failure
  • Plumbing leaks
  • An accidental discharge from an appliance

What to do if you have a water loss
  • Call your landlord and call us, your dedicated insurance representative at 508-347-9343
  • Take photos and/or video of the damaged property. And don't throw anything away until your claims adjuster has completed an inspection. 
And if you don't have renters insurance, definitely call us now!
McCurdy Insurance, 508-347-9343, where the Best Insurance is Prevention!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Common Cold Weather Insurance Claims: Part Four


Ice on roads 
Winter storms can do an equal amount of damage to your car. Icy roads can cause you to lose brakes, hydroplane, and slide into another object or car. In winter storms, you lose nearly all control of your vehicle.
  • Don’t drive during winter storms or during times of expected inclement weather. Never drive during a declared state of emergency.
  • Always have food and water in your car in case you get trapped inside.
  • Keep an emergency car kit and first aid kit in your vehicle.
  • Have your insurance carrier or AAA’s number in the car in case you need to be towed.
P.S. Be sure to remove all ice from the top and windshield of your car. If any snow and ice chunks fly off and cause an accident, you will be found at fault (which is where your auto liability insurance would come in).

Fire

Fires are also more common in the winter months due to the dry air and increase of fireplace use. The national average for fire and smoke damage is $9,815 but can be up to $30,000. Avoid costly fire claims with just a few precautions:
  • Check that all fireplaces, stoves, and heaters are working properly.
  • Keep no combustible items near heat sources.
  • Get your chimney cleaned.
  • Close the fireplace flue when not in use.
  • Learn more about home fire safety here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Common Cold Weather Insurance Claims: Part Three

Snow and ice damage
Snow and ice looks pretty, but it can be so heavy that it can severely damage your house. The average claim for snow and ice damage to the home is around $4,700. Snow heavier than 1-2 feet or 4 inches of ice can crush your roof or cause falling tree branches. Water can freeze in and clog your gutters, creating “ice dams” that prevent proper runoff. This can cause a water buildup that can seep into your roof and ceiling.
  • Prevent ice dams. Seal any gaps that allow warm air to leak into the attic. Keep your attic ventilated. Insulate your home’s heating system so it doesn’t escape through the ceiling.
  • Get a roof rake to help get rid of heavy snow after major storms.
  • Inspect your roof before the season for any weak areas that need repair.
  • Trim all trees near the house, and get rid of weak or dead branches.

Slips and falls

Moreover, snow and ice can cause liability concerns on your property. An icy walkway or driveway could cause slips and falls, for which you will be liable. Even if the person injured on your property wasn’t invited, they could still sue you if they were injured after an icy slip on your property. This same liability applies if they are hit by a falling icicle, dead tree branch, and other winter concerns.
  • Always shovel your driveway and walkway after a storm.
  • Apply commercial-grade salt to help melt the ice faster. 
  • Ensure you are fully covered with homeowners’ liability insurance.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Common Cold Weather Insurance Claims: Part Two

Hail
Hail can do serious damage to your roof, siding, porch, and automobile.In 2014, State Farm alone had $2.4 billion in damages caused by wind and hail, according to III.
You can’t prevent hail, but you can prepare for it:
  • Inspect your roof and siding every autumn. Repair loose or missing tiles.
  • If you live in an area where hail is common, you can consider installing hail-resistant asphalt shingles. This precaution could even help lower your insurance premium.
  • Never drive during a hailstorm. If you get caught in a storm, park at a nearby gas station underneath the awning. If that’s not possible, pull over and get in the back seat of the car away from the windshield, which could shatter.
Like wind, some homeowners’ policies have hail exclusion. Check with your insurance agent to make sure you’re covered. Discuss the different sorts of claims process and coverage lines with regards to hail. For your auto insurance, you’ll want to have comprehensive insurance, which will repair your car from “acts of God” like hail, falling icicles, or icy branches.

Frozen pipes

If your pipes get too cold, the water inside them will freeze. This ice can expand and burst the pipes, leading to water loss and water damage in your home. A study by Disaster Safety found that frozen pipes resulted in losses of around $10,000, which is twice as severe as other sorts of plumbing failures. Freezing pipes accounts for 18% of all water damage claims. Damages from frozen pipes can include flooding, ceiling collapse, damaged floors and walls, mold, and more. 
Interestingly, insurance companies often consider frozen pipes a “preventable problem.” They may say that your negligence caused the damage. This means that you could be stuck with a $10,000 water damage bill without your insurance company stepping in.
Thus, it’s crucial to protect your home against frozen pipe damage:
  • Drain and disconnect all hoses.
  • Drain the sprinkler supply lines.
  • Keep your home warm at a minimum of 65 degrees.
  • Insulate pipes in unheated spaces, like basements, garages, and attics. You can use pipe sleeves or heat tape.
  • Leave garage doors closed.
  • If you have a swimming pool, run the pump during nights where temperatures are expected to go below freezing.
  • When it’s especially cold outside, let cool water drip from your faucets. This will keep your water flowing, so they have less chance of freezing in the pipes. 
  • Know where your water is shut off. If your pipes do burst, the first step is to turn off the water to reduce any further damage.
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