9 Reasons You Need to Call Us, Your Local Insurance Agents
Insurance folks get a bad rap for being boring. And yeah, okay, we do tend to get fired up about topics that don’t interest the average person (e.g. named, non-owner coverage endorsements). But our team of local insurance agents knows A LOT about the issues that affect your wallet. If any of these scenarios are on your calendar for 2020, keep our phone number handy: 508.339.2951.
1. You’re Remodeling or Adding Major Structures
Improving your home? Do it safely, please! Don’t forget to alert your agent before improvements are made. Depending on who is doing the work and the extent of the project, you may need to up your liability protection or purchase a builder’s risk policy. If you’re working with a contractor, ask for a certificate of insurance directly from his agency. If you have any concerns or questions, we’re happy to help you review these certificates.
Major home improvements add value to your home, so it’s important to reconnect after the renovation, as well. Your homeowner’s policy may need to be tweaked based on the new cost of replacing your home and/or the valuable contents you’ve added to new spaces. And if you happened to make any upgrades that reduce your home’s risk profile (e.g. updated roofing, wiring, HVAC), you may be able to lower your premium.
Some home additions may be classified as “attractive nuisances.” This means they have the potential to draw uninvited guests (particularly children) onto the property, where the risk of injury exists. Pools and trampolines are common examples of attractive nuisances, which is why they’re required to be fenced in. (Some companies won’t insure backyard trampolines at all.) Other examples might include tree houses, zip lines, or even koi ponds. If you’re adding any of these, ask us if additional coverage through umbrella insurance makes sense for you.
2. You’re Buying a Home
MA home insurance rates are affected by numerous factors—including where the home is located, the materials used to build it, its condition and its age. As you’re preparing to insure a new property, it’s a good idea to check in with your agent. We can help you discern how much your rate might increase (or decrease!), based on the details of your new address. We’ll also make sure you have your ducks in a row during the mortgage process (every lender requires proof of insurance). If you’re moving into a condo, it’s very important that we sit down and review the Master policy of the condo association. Depending on the terms, you may need more or less coverage on your own policy. Here’s more info on the topic of insurance when buying a house.
Side note: When it comes time to relocate, you may want to ask us about moving insurance. Don’t assume the movers you’re hiring will fully replace any possessions that get lost or damaged in transit. If you’re renting a U-Haul and moving home contents yourself, it’s also not guaranteed that your existing home/auto policy would cover any losses. We’re here to help you review the protection offered by the moving company or the truck rental agent.
3. You’re Hiring a Nanny (More than 16 Hours Per Week)
Hiring the right person to care for your children is a major decision. It’s also a form of employment, if the nanny is going to work 16 hours or more per week. That makes you an employer. And in Massachusetts, it means you’re required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance.
MA workers’ comp insurance is designed to protect employees and employers after an injury or illness occurs on the job. For workers, this type of insurance provides wage replacement and pays for medical expenses; for employers, it means (most of the time) workers can’t sue you for negligence.
Lots of our clients have questions about this issue (e.g. What about my housekeeper? What if she only works that many hours on some weeks? What if I pay her under the table?) To ensure you’re getting the best advice, we recommend calling us directly.
4. Your Child Is Getting His License or Moving Out
Adding and removing household members to/from your auto policy is not one of those chores you can afford to put off. If your teen is preparing to get his driver’s license, or if your high school grad is preparing to move out/attend college, we want to hear from you. Meanwhile, don’t miss our more detailed advice on teen driving and college student insurance.
5. You’re Starting a Business out of Your Home
There are 38 million home-based businesses in the U.S.—including hair salons, day cares, auto repair shops, artisan contractor companies, and professional services firms. The low overhead and high success rates (70 percent of home-based startups succeed within 3 years!) are attractive to entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, too many of them forget about insurance.
Only 60 percent of home-based businesses are insured. Among those who don’t have business insurance, many assume their homeowners’ insurance policy will cover any loss events. But this is not the case…
If you work from home independently, call us ASAP to review your insurance needs—even if you’re “only” selling goods on eBay, Amazon, or LulaRoe. From an insurance perspective, these money-making activities are considered businesses. Failing to secure the right coverage could mean you’re not covered when the UPS driver slips on your stairs, or when a fire in the garage destroys half your inventory.
6. Your Parents Moved into Assisted Living or You Inherited Property
No one likes to think about their parents getting older, but planning ahead can often save families added grief and confusion at a difficult time. For example, do you and your siblings know how you’ll handle a parent’s transition into assisted living?
- Would you sell the house immediately?
- Rent it?
- Advertise it on Airbnb?
- Allow a family member to live there temporarily?
In addition to the legal, estate planning issues posed, your answers to these questions could significantly affect property insurance needs. Before you leave the property vacant, or give anyone free access, don’t forget to contact your insurance agent… along with your lawyer and real estate agent.
7. You Got Engaged
Believe it or not, your relationship status may impact your car insurance rate. According to a 2004 study cited by the DMV, married drivers have half the risk of driver injury, compared to drivers who have never been married. Unfair stereotype? Maybe. But carriers often use this data to offer married couples lower rates. While couples who live together —unmarried—may actually need a special endorsement for shared, regular use of one another’s cars.
Newly engaged? Congratulations! Don’t forget to insure your ring by adding an endorsement to your homeowner’s or renter’s policy. This coverage is relatively inexpensive, and it’s something you’ll be glad to have if your diamond is ever stolen or damaged.
When planning a wedding, it’s also smart to think about special event insurance. This type of coverage can help you recoup losses if your reception is cancelled due to a hurricane, if the caterer goes out of business, or if the bride’s dress ends up on a plane to Acapulco. Depending on the wedding venue (e.g. a rented function hall or your backyard), other risks like host liquor liability and property damage may warrant additional insurance—check with us to be sure.
8. You’re Adding Solar Panels
At-home solar panel systems are increasingly popular throughout the state of Massachusetts and across the country—and for good reason. Properly installed, solar panels can help defray energy costs while preserving natural resources. When researching installation and financing options, don’t forget to call your insurance agent. He or she will need to know:
- Will the solar panels be attached to your home or freestanding?
- If free-standing, will they be fenced-in adequately?
- Will you own the panels, or are you renting/leasing them from a company?
- By how much will the panels increase the cost to replace your home?
- Are you taking advantage of the solar incentive known as “net metering” to send your excess power back to the electric grid? If yes, there may be liability issues to consider.
9. Once a Year, Even if Nothing Changes
You might think nothing has changed since your policy last renewed, but there’s still plenty to discuss. Maybe you qualify for accident forgiveness. Maybe you could lower your rate by bundling your policies… Maybe you’re a snowbird, with plans to live in Florida for the winter months (and leave your MA home unoccupied).
Are these the only reasons to call your local insurance agents? Of course not! We want to hear from you any time you have an insurance question or concern. Adding our phone number—508.339.2951—to your mobile “Contacts” list is great way to ensure you’re never too far from insurance answers. So add it now! Go ahead, we’ll wait… Hope to see you at our Mansfield, Dedham, or Attleboro office soon! Update on our Foxboro insurance office here.