McCurdy Group - Insurance and Financial Consultants

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.
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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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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Common Cold Weather Insurance Claims: Part One


Preparing for winter incidents and cold weather claims begins with prevention methods and thorough insurance protection. Let’s take a look at the most common causes of claims in winter weather and what you can do to protect yourself from these costly concerns.
Hidden behind that gorgeous blanket of snow are harsh winter storms waiting to do serious damage to your home. The winter season creates the most common and costly claims for home and car owners. In fact, III estimated that winter storms caused $1 billion in insured losses in 2016.
They also found that the overall percentage of winter-related claims has increased at a higher rate than previous decades, likely due to the severity of storms and increase in the number of people with insurance protection. Nearly 51% of all insurance homeowners’ claims come from wintery wind, hail, and weather-related water damage. Moreover, more collisions and “acts of God” occur while out on the road during or after a winter storm.
Preparing for winter incidents and cold weather claims begins with prevention methods and thorough insurance protection. Let’s take a look at the most common causes of claims in winter weather and what you can do to protect yourself from these costly concerns.

Wind damage

The most common homeowners claim filed is due to wind damage. Nearly one in 35 insured homes have a property damage claim related to wind or hail each year, according to The Insurance Information Institute. Wind is more intense during the winter months and thus creates a majority of these costly claims.
Prepare for wind damage:
  • Remove and store all unsecured outdoor items like umbrellas, furniture, and play items.
  • Inspect your home for loose gutters, shutters, and shingles.
  • Trim dead or weak tree branches around the house. Tree collapse is the third most costly winter weather claim, averaging nearly $6,000 per tree.
  • Be aware of nearby power lines. Trim trees around power lines. Ensure power lines near your property are secure. If not, call the phone or cable company for further fastening.
Wind damage is not always covered by your homeowners’ insurance. In fact, wind and flood are often exclusions on many homeowners’ policies. In this way, you’ll want to talk to your insurance agent before the winter season hits in order to ensure you are fully protected from any costs associated with wind damage. 
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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"!)

(Sources: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/homeowners-insurance-cover-theft-outsidehome-
53333.html; https://insurance.freeadvice.com/information/home/article/290)

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.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON A COI FORM:
    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.

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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."
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