Insurance 101

Why choose a Probate Bond?

Probate Bonds are key tools for protecting property and people when a person passes away. Family’s will fight and argue when times are good and more than likely when things go wrong. Upon death, an individual’s estate is handled through probate court. Certain states require that a probate bond is secured to guarantee the performance of an estate’s executors. These bonds are also often referred to as “executor bonds.”

Who is required to purchase a probate bond?

In some states, the executor is required to purchase this bond. The executor is the individual in charge of the deceased’s estate, according to his or her will. If a person fails name an executor, the probate court appoints one. This person is responsible for inventorying and protecting the assets of the estate; contacting beneficiaries and potential heirs; having the estate appraised and paying off debts; ensuring taxes are calculated and paid; and disbursing the assets.

Why require a probate bond?

These bonds help protect the estate and its beneficiaries from fraud, embezzlement or other illicit acts. Executors wield considerable power over finances, real estate and other significant holdings. Requiring a surety bond helps give family members, heirs and other stakeholders a way of recourse if the executor acts in an improper or illegal fashion.

Your Neighbor’s Tree.

Seems like a silly topic, but it does bring up a very common insurance question. If my neighbor’s tree falls in my yard and damages my house will his insurance company pay for the resulting damage? It depends (I know, typical insurance answer). If the tree is dead or dying to the point that a reasonably prudent person could look at the tree and say “that tree is dead or dying” then your neighbor’s insurance company would pay for the damage. If the tree is a healthy tree – then your neighbor’s policy will not pay. If the tree is on your property then your homeowner’s insurance policy would pay for the damage whether the tree was dead or alive.

How about if the tree falls and causes no damage, but you want your insurance company to pay to remove the tree? You would only have coverage if you have a specific company endorsement to cover it. This is where you need a good insurance agent. Give us a call we can help. Pembroke:  781-293-5500  Plymouth: 508-746-0030  Osterville:  508-428-6919.

The above is meant as general information and as general policy descriptions to help you understand the different types of coverages available to you. Always consult your policy for actual coverages and exclusions.

If I file a claim will my rates go up?

After Hurricane Irene many people suffered downed trees in their yard, loss of power, spoiled food, and flooded basements. A common question heard is if I file a claim will my home insurance rates go up? The simple answer is no. But we all know insurance is not so simple. If you do file a claim and your insurance company pays the claim you will at the very least lose your loss free credit. This credit could be several hundred dollars. You would lose this credit for 3 years. To most people this would seem like a rate increase. The rate charged to insure your home does not go up, but by losing the loss free credit your premium will increase.

Obviously if you have a tree through your bedroom ceiling it will be worth your while to file a claim. A food spoilage claim for $250 may not be worth filing. It is a personal decision if you want to file small insurance claims. I would typically recommend against it only because they go on your file and if you file enough small claims your insurance company may decide to non-renew your policy. At that point your only option would be the Mass Property Fair Plan. And while the Mass Fair Plan is an excellent insurer of last resort, their rates are high and they do not offer the same coverage options.

If you have any questions on your policy feel free to call our offices at 781-293-5500 (Pembroke), 508-747-0030 (Plymouth), 508-428-6919 (Osterville).

The above is meant as general information and as general policy descriptions to help you understand the different types of coverages available to you. Always consult your policy for actual coverages and exclusions.

Power surge, covered on your home insurance?

With the sweltering temperatures we have been experiencing this summer usually not far behind are thunder and lightning storms. I usually try not to get too technical on this blog, but sometimes I think it is warranted. So off we go…

There are several versions of the home-owner’s insurance policy, but for this discussion I will focus on the ISO 2000 HO-3 version. Lightning damage to your home or your personal property is covered on your home-owner’s insurance policy. Problems arise when there is a “artificially generated electric current”. To you and I that is fancy talk for a power surge.  There is an exclusion in the policy that reads in part “…electronic components or circuitry that are part of appliances, fixtures, computers, home entertainment units or other types of electronic apparatus.” In today’s “high tech” homes a good amount of personal property contains these excluded items and costs for damage could add up quickly. Keep in mind too, this limitation of coverage applies to personal property only and not to building property. Thus, items such as a built-in range, central air conditioning system, or home alarm system would not be subject to the limitation and would be covered for “power surge” claims.

So what can you do to fix this problem? Glad you asked. You can choose the HO-5 form which basically changes your policy to an open perils policy. This means the policy does not list the perils your home and personal property are covered for; rather it lists your home and personal property does notcover. This is the most extensive coverage offered for home insurance. The premium is typically 10% of the base premium – an excellent deal no doubt.

If your homeowner’s insurance policy is written on the 1991 version then you can add coverage simply by requesting the HO 00 15 (Special Personal Property Coverage) endorsement.

If you have any questions regarding power surges or what is covered on your policy feel free to call our offices at 781-293-5500 (Pembroke), 508-747-0030 (Plymouth), 508-428-6919 (Osterville).

The above is meant as general information and as general policy descriptions to help you understand the different types of coverages available to you. Always consult your policy for actual coverages and exclusions.

The accident was their fault so why can’t I get a rental car?

This can be a common, frustrating experience. You were involved in an accident that you know was not your fault so why is the other party’s insurance company not willing to pay for your rental? The answer to this question is usually that they have not made contact with their insured to get their version of the accident. You would be surprised sometimes how long people will wait to report a claim, especially if they are at fault. 

At Hannon-Ryan, we will contact the other insurance company as a service to our customers to get the claim moving along. It can be intimidating for most people to deal with an insurance company directly. 

Of course you can avoid this whole issue if you have rental reimbursement on your own auto policy. If you are a member of AAA and your policy is insured through Commerce Insurance your rental coverage automatically bumps up from $15 to $30 a day. First you have to purchase the $15 a day coverage though. As always call our office for additional information. 

The above is meant as general information and as general policy descriptions to help you understand the different types of coverages available to you. Always consult your policy for actual coverages and exclusions.

Sprinkler Systems – What you need to know

Perhaps your building has a sprinkler system and you never really gave it much thought. If your office is in a frame building you are  probably saving a good deal of money on your property insurance because of your sprinkler system. Obviously not so much in a steel building. But what do you know how they work? Do you know that your policy probably has a restrictive maintenance clause that says if you don’t properly maintain your sprinkler system and a fire ensues you may not have coverage?

These are enormous issues for any small business. I have included a PDF file provided by The Independent Insurance Agents of America that explains these issues in a consumer friendly easy to read format. Click here to see the article. 

The above is meant as general information and as general policy descriptions to help you understand the different types of coverages available to you. Always consult your policy for actual coverages and exclusions.

The Real Value of a Renter’s policy

A renter’s insurance policy is a very affordable policy with lots of great coverages. Most people tend to think of a renter’s policy as offering coverage for their “stuff”. If you have a fire in your apartment your renter’s policy will pay to replace your tv, Ipod, furniture, clothes, etc. While that coverage is great, the true value lies in the liability protection.

Let’s say you accidently leave a candle burning in your kitchen and it causes a fire that not only damages your aprtment, but also 3 or 4 units surrounding yours. The building damage that occurs will be paid for by the landlord’s building insurance comany. But if they find that you were the one who caused the damage they will sue you for the damages.

Do you have $50,000, $100,000 or $200,000 to pay for the resulting damage caused by your candle? I know I don’t. If you have a renter’s insurance policy the liability portion of your policy would provide coverage for you. Your renter’ insurance policy would defend you in this claim.

How much would you pay for such  a valuable insurance policy…$400, $500, $1,000? How about around $200 a year for $25,000 in contents and $500,000 in liability? And you thought insurance was expensive?

The above is meant as general information and as general policy descriptions to help you understand the different types of coverages available to you. Always consult your policy for actual coverages and exclusions.

No coverage for skunks?…That Stinks!

Sorry about the pun, I couldn’t resist. So let’s say your happy little pooch chases a skunk into your house (stranger things have happened) and the skunk stinks up your entire house. Your furniture, carpet, linens, and even your clothes are probably going smell pretty bad. If you live outside of Massachusetts your home-owner’s insurance policy will probably cover the cost to remove the smell. I say probably because it will depend upon your insurance company claim adjuster’s definition of “vermin” and “rodents”. Any damage caused by vermin or rodents is not covered under most home-owner’s insurance policies. The insurance policy does not define what “vermin” or “rodent” includes. You would be hard pressed to find any dictionary that defines either term to include a skunk.

Now let’s say you live in Massachusetts. That same claim would not be not covered because all homeowners and dwelling fire policies in Mass. have a state mandatory endorsement which defines “vermin”. In that definition skunks are included as vermin as are beavers, coyotes, lizards, opossums, raccoons, squirrels (plus a few more). Therefore no coverage.

If we are talking about a commercial property policy then you are in luck because there is no such definition in the policy.   The claim would be covered on this type of policy.

The information provided in this blog is intended as a general overview of insurance principals and coverages. Always consult your insurance policy for actual coverage and/or exclusions or speak to you insurance agent.

Tsunami Insurance?

First let me start by saying that our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan after the earthquake and Tsunami they suffered early this morning. What an awful tragedy. It did bring to my attention if people are even aware if there is such as thing as tsunami insurance.

Although there is no such thing as tsunami insurance, tsunamis cause flood damage and are therefore covered by flood insurance. All homeowner’s and business owner’s policy typically exclude damage caused by flood. Flood insurance is available through your local insurance agent and is written by the US Federal Government (National Flood Insurance Program).

Depending upon where you live flood insurance can be as low as $400 a year. For more information about flood insurance click here for the National Flood Insurance Program consumer website.

Hurricane vs Wind Deductibles.

Wind or hurricane deductibles are nothing new, but they are being used now more than ever. So what is the difference between the two? Glad you asked. A wind deductible is a separate deductible on your home/condo or possibly business owners policy that is applied when you suffer a loss that is caused by wind. This is usually shown as a percentage (1-5% or even 10%) on your declaration page of your insurance policy. A hurricane deductible is applied only when you suffer a loss caused by a named storm or in this case a hurricane and is also shown as a percentage.

The best way to explain this is with an example. Let’s say your home insured for $300,000 and you have a $500 deductible and a 2% wind deductible. If you have a loss caused by wind damage your homeowner’s insurance policy would not pay any damages until the amount surpasses your wind deductible. In this case it would be $6,000 (2% x $300,000). Most people are not aware of this and need to make sure they have a reserve fund to pay this potentially high deductible. 

Now let’s say your home is insured for $300,000 and you have a $500 deductible and a 2% hurricane deductible. In the example I used previously, if your home was damaged by wind from a storm other than a hurricane then your deductible would be only $500.

The moral of this story is to always check your policy and talk to your agent. It also pays to shop around. Not all insurance companies include a wind or hurricane deductible on their policy. For homes located in Massachusetts we do have insurance companies who will write a policy for you with no wind or hurricane deductible, even if you live right next to the ocean.

Feel free to email me at steve@hannon-ryan.com, or call our office at 781-293-5500 (Pembroke Office) 508-746-0030 (Plymouth Office) 508-428-6919 (Cape office) or if you prefer you can fill out a home insurance quote form here.