Insurance News

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.

Getting Ready for Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene is fast approaching the East Coast and is expected to hit New England this Sunday, the 28th of August. While we all are keeping our fingers crossed that it will weaken, there are steps you should take now to be prepared.  Here are a few resources we’ve put together to help you with some timely information and tips, should you experience a loss.   Click any of the following three links to download and view the respective PDF format document:

Helpful Hints and Tips In the Event of a Loss

Insurance Claim Phone Numbers and Web Addresses

Restoration / Repair Companies

Pembroke Office  P 781-293-5500   F 781-293-7943
Plymouth Office  P 508-746-0030   F 508-747-3036
Osterville Office  P 508-428-6919     F 508-428-3774

FAQ’s for Mass Tornado Victims

WESTFIELD, Mass. — For residents of Hampden and Worcester counties hit by the June 1 severe storms and tornadoes, the Aug. 15, 2011 deadline for applying for federal disaster aid is approaching fast. Don’t let common misunderstandings cause you to miss deadlines for disaster assistance.

Check the following questions and answers to learn why you should register now at www.fema.gov/ or 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Answers to some common questions about disaster assistance:

Q. I have insurance. Should I wait for my insurance settlement before requesting additional assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency?
A. No. Insurance is your main source of money to put your life back in order after a disaster, but FEMA may be able to help with things insurance does not cover. If you have insurance, find out what is covered, take pictures if you can, and begin clean-up and repairs, keeping estimates and receipts. You may not be eligible for assistance until you can provide additional insurance settlement information to FEMA (a necessary step to avoid duplication of benefits), but register now, before the deadline.

Whether you have insurance or not, it’s a good idea to register immediately with FEMA either online or by phone.

Q. I already repaired my home. Can I still apply?
A. Yes. By registering, you still could qualify for reimbursement of eligible repairs or to help with needs not covered by your insurance.
Q. I got help from the American Red Cross. Can I still register with FEMA if I need assistance?
A. Yes. Registration with the Red Cross or other voluntary agencies is not the same as
registering with FEMA. FEMA coordinates various federal programs to help disaster victims, which are different from the emergency food, clothing and shelter initially provided by the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other voluntary agencies.
Q. Do I have to meet a minimum amount of damage before I can register with FEMA?
A. No. There is no minimum requirement for registering for federal and state disaster assistance. FEMA, by law, cannot duplicate other benefits, but you may have losses, for example, not covered by insurance, that could be reimbursed by FEMA.
Q. Do I have to be turned down by my bank before I can apply for a disaster loan?
A. No. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which handles low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations, has its own criteria for determining each loan applicant’s eligibility. The SBA will decide whether you are able to repay a loan. If you are not qualified for a home loan, you may be eligible for other assistance, such as FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance grant program that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Q. I don’t really want a loan. Do I still need to fill out the SBA application when I receive it?
A. Yes. If the home loan application is not returned, you may not be considered for some other forms of disaster assistance.

Q. If I qualify for an SBA loan, do I have to accept it?
A. No. IF SBA determines that you are eligible to receive a low-interest disaster loan, you do not have to accept the loan. SBA allows up to six months for you to reopen your case and request a redetermination.

Q. I rent an apartment. Can I get help to replace my damaged personal property?
A. Yes. A renter also may qualify for an SBA low-interest disaster loan or grants from other sources to replace personal property. One type of grant may cover temporary housing if a renter has to move to another dwelling. Other grants may cover eligible individuals or families with serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other programs.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

The above information was collected from FEMA.

Quincy Mutual offers Identity Theft 911

For our customers who have their home insurance through Quincy Mutual, your policy automatically comes with Identity Theft 911. Many Massachusetts homeowners may have lost their homes and/or personal belongings and will need to begin the process of rebuilding. Identity Theft 911 offers advice and guidance for those that may have lost their wallets, credit cards, check books, debit cards, etc… this could be an invaluable service.

 At Identity Theft 911 an on-call fraud specialist will be available to provide unlimited assistance in helping our customers with any questions or concerns that they may have. They will assist in helping to restore documents and replace identification. They will even assist in relaying messages to family members, friends and providers if necessary.

The folks at Identity Theft 911 can be reached at 1-888-682-5911. This service is available to Quincy Mutual homeowner insureds regardless of whether they have submitted a claim to Quincy.

If you have any questions we are always here to help. Pembroke office 781-293-5500, Plymouth office 508-746-0030 and Osterville office 508-428-6919.

Is your Mass Driver’s License Expired?

Effective in 2008 the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles (RMV) announced they were no longer mailing driver’s license renewal reminders. To help with this the RMV created a free service that reminds you when your license will renew. You determine how the RMV reminds you by email, phone or text (SMS) message. The RMV has partnered with Sendza, an outside m that will deliver your automatic reminder at no cost to you or the Commonwealth. Click here to access this service.

To get started, you will need your Massachusetts license or MA ID number, date of birth, and your residential zip code so they can verify your information. The RMV will then transition you to the Sendza website where you will complete the process to subscribe to the reminder service. Sendza will ask you to select how you want to be notified—by email, phone or text message. You must then provide the appropriate email address or phone number. Sendza receives coded information that enables them to deliver your reminder, but never sees your personal information and cannot display or share it.

You can unsubscribe from the service, change your contact information or method of delivery at any time simply by following the prompts once you have entered the subscription page.

Please be sure to join the RMV Reminder Service at least 45 days before the expiration date on your license or ID. For each renewal period, you will receive only one reminder notice approximately 30 days prior to the pending expiration date.

I tried this service myslef an it works pretty simple. You just need your DOB, driver’s license number and the zipcode on your license.

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.