McCurdy Group - Insurance and Financial Consultants

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.

Monday, August 6, 2018

How To Ruin Your Child's Financial Future

Many times we get calls to exclude a young driver from the parent's auto policy because their child is away at school. Sure, you'll save a few bucks, but what will you do when they show up unexpected and want to take the car to go to the movies or a friend's house?

And that's just your car. What if your child borrows someone's car at school? Or what if they drove home from the party because they were the sober one, and what coverage was on that car?

You spend thousands, tens of thousands of dollars sending your child to school for a better life, and then BAM! a car accident ruins their life because they were an excluded driver -- that is, NO coverage.

And what about too little coverage? An accident with property damage could go well beyond the minimum limits required by law. In order to register and drive your car in Massachusetts, the state requires that you have a minimum level of certain types of auto insurance coverage. These include:
  • Bodily Injury to Others: $20,000 per person / $40,000 per accident
  • Personal Injury Protection: $8,000 per person, per accident
  • Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto: $20,000 per person / $40,000 per accident
  • Damage to Someone Else's Property: $5,000 per accident
Really, folks, when you consider hospital costs, those minimums will leave you hanging. And if your adult child is responsible, the judgment could follow them for years and years.

Moral of the story — KEEP YOUR CHILD INSURED!

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Uninsured Motorist: Your Worst Nightmare

Did you know that there are almost 13% of  drivers -- that's around one in every eight-- who are uninsured? And did you know that uninsured motorists cause $2.6 billion in claims? (Insurance
Research Council.)

In Massachusetts, drivers are legally required to have auto insurance. But it's not enough to insure
oneself. You need to insure yourself against those who have no insurance or who are underinsured.

Even those who do have insurance may opt for minimum coverage. The only way for innocent
motorists to protect themselves from underinsured drivers is to purchase adequate underinsured
motorist (UIM) coverage.

Underinsured motorist coverage is extremely important. Many insurance companies battle fiercely to beat competitor price quotes. What they too often fail to explain to drivers is the true reason why their rates are so much lower: Lack of important coverage, such as UIM benefits.

What Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage Offers: Massachusetts requires the purchase of minimum levels of certain types of auto insurance coverage for those who register and drive a motor
vehicle. These are:
  • Bodily Injury to Others: $20,000 per person and up to $40,000 per accident
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $8,000 per person, per accident
  • Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto: $20,000 per person and up to $40,000 per accident
  • Property Damage: $5,000 per accident
While it may seem $20,000 is a lot of money, in fact it is not when you are involved in a serious
crash. According to researchers, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury in the U.S. was
$15,443 in 2013. That is a figure that has risen steadily over the years. It’s also an average, which means there are many people who suffer injuries for which the medical bills far exceed that amount.

Although Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning innocent motorists first turn to their own car
insurance company to cover losses, drivers may step outside of this no-fault system when the:
  • Injured person incurs at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses and/or
  • Injuries from the accident caused permanent and serious disfigurement, broken bone or a substantial loss of sight or hearing.
UIM coverage steps in to cover medical bills and lost wages if you are injured or if a loved one is
killed in a crash where the at-fault driver only carries minimum car insurance. Your policy would
pay for damages above the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage amount, up to the limits of your
UIM policy. For example:
  • The at-fault driver has a bodily injury limit of $20,000, the minimum required by law.
  • You carry a maximum of $100,000 per person in UIM coverage.
  • The total amount of your injuries and lost wages equals $60,000.
  • Instead of being stuck with only $20,000 from the at-fault driver, you can recover an additional $40,000 from your own auto insurer, for a total of $60,000 -- full coverage of your losses.
Another benefit of UIM coverage is that it doesn't just apply to accidents that occur while you're in the car. For example, you are struck by a car while walking or bicycling. UIM benefits would cover
these damages as well.

Unfortunately, most people don't become aware of the importance of uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage until it's too late. The benefit of securing adequate UIM coverage far outweighs the cost, and will serve you well in the event of a serious Massachusetts car accident.

Do I have you wondering if you have UIM coverage? Give us a call at 508-347-9397 and we'll
check your policy and set you up if you do not have underinsured motorist coverage.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Always Carry An Umbrella

Here's a scenario: If you were to cause an accident that destroys the other car, and the driver and passengers are injured, how much would your insurance cover? And how much could end up coming right out of your pocket?

Truth is, the costs that can be recovered from a major car accident can be very high:
  • Medical treatment expenses
  • Income loss from missing work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Property loss
  • Punitive damages
And a good personal injury lawyer will find even more damages to add to that list. That's why we recommend you get a Personal Umbrella Policy.

Umbrella insurance is a personal liability policy that will provide you extra protection from lawsuits that may arise from things such as:
  • damage you caused to someone's property
  • injury in an accident on your property or caused by your dog biting someone
  • false claims and arrests
  • slander
  • invasion of privacy
Umbrella insurance protects you if you are sued under your insurance policy on your house and/or your car for amounts that exceed the limits of those policies. It protects you if you are sued for slander, and also covers legal fees. Umbrella policies cover your future earnings, as a court could award part of your paycheck as settlement for the rest of your life.

Learning the simple truth about Umbrella Policies can make them an indispensable part of your insurance coverage. Don't delay, call us TODAY at 508-347-9343 and get yourself a good umbrella.

Friday, May 4, 2018

5 Biggest Mistakes When Buying Insurance

Insurance can be a tricky purchase.  Auto lienholder happy?  Check.  Mortgage lender happy?  Check.

But this simply isn't enough!  Some things on your insurance policy deserve a little more attention.  As an insurance agent, here are some of the BIGGEST coverage mistakes I’ve seen.

Mistake #1:  Buying Only The Required State Minimum Liability Insurance

Every state has a minimum amount of liability insurance that is required in order to drive a car.  But it’s typically nowhere near enough coverage!  Choosing only the minimum liability insurance could leave you open to a lawsuit, garnished wages, or potentially losing an asset, like your home. 

Discuss different liability amounts with your agent to see what is necessary based on your income, net worth, and liabilities.  (Another bonus?  It won’t cost nearly as much as you might think!) 

Mistake #2: Not Insuring Your Home For Replacement Cost

Many people think they only need enough coverage to insure their home for the amount they paid for it.  Not true!  You need to be insured for the amount of money it would cost to REPLACE your home.

If a fire or tornado destroyed the house, you would need insurance to replace it.  The total cost could be tens of thousands more than the house would have sold for on the market.  If you’re currently only insured for the cash value of your home, you could be at risk! 

Mistake #3: Buying Life Insurance Through Work

Most people tell me that they have life insurance through work and aren’t interested in purchasing their own coverage.  This is also a mistake.

The problem?  The majority of us don’t stay at jobs for 30 years anymore.  And if you develop health issues and leave your current employer….you might not be able to get coverage again!

When you purchase your own life insurance (which is extremely affordable), you are covered no matter where you work or what health problems you might develop in the future.  It’s the smarter choice!

Mistake #4: Buying The Cheapest Policy

It’s tempting to shop for insurance and just pick whatever is the cheapest, but it’s usually not the best idea. 

First you want to make sure that you’re buying from a reputable company.  You want a solid insurance carrier that you can trust to pay your claims. 

And you want to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.  Does the cheaper policy only insure your home for cash value instead of replacement cost (like mistake #2)? Does one company exclude water leaks but another cover them?  Big details can be hidden in the small print!

Mistake #5: Not Using An Agent

Best way to avoid ALL of these mistakes?  Work with an insurance agent! 

We know all about insurance and can find the right coverage for your specific situation.  We’ll make sure your liability limits are high enough, that your home will be replaced after a loss, that you won’t lose your life insurance when you change jobs, and that you aren’t buying an inadequate policy that doesn’t protect you.

Call us today for a quote!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Replacement Cost vs. Market Value

How many times have you looked at your Homeowner's policy and thought that the coverage on your house was way too high? And that you could never sell your house for that amount.

With the housing market being what it is, people think that the coverage on their homes should reflect the market value -- but you couldn't be more wrong. The difference between market value and replacement cost is that market value reflects what a home can be sold for but replacement cost is what a home can be re-built for. Do you see the difference?

With the cost of services and materials, you want to make sure that you have enough coverage to rebuild your home in case of a loss. Some may say that they would never rebuild their house the way it is now, but let's consider the problems with that theory if you have a loss and the home is not completely destroyed. For example, say your home is insured for $160,000 but it should be insured for $200,000 and you have a kitchen fire that resulted in $50,000 worth of damage. The fact is, the insurance company will only pay you $40,000, less your deductible. That means that you’ll have to write a check for that remaining $10,000 in order to get your kitchen back in working order.   

The reason behind this is in the numbers.  Because you have only insured your home for 80% of its value, you will only receive payment for 80% of the loss.  If you have questions about replacement cost, contact your insurance agent.