Create a Natural Disaster Plan – Check Rebuilding Costs

Many homeowners underestimate the cost to rebuild their homes in the event of a natural disaster. It’s important to review your policy given the current rise in real estate values and inflation. All updates to your homeowner’s policy need to happen BEFORE disaster strikes given that most insurance companies issue a moratorium on new and existing business during a disaster event.

Here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Create a home inventory of your possessions. Use a smartphone to make a video recording in each room of your home while you narrate. Identify the items in the room with as much description and price information you can provide. You may want to create a spreadsheet listing the contents of each room and price information (provide receipts when possible).
  2. Check the cost to rebuild. Save receipts for any improvements you have made to the home. Contact your agent to review your coverage with attention to rebuilding cost.
  3. Decide whether you need flood insurance taking into consideration climate change. Flood insurance is especially important for those in or adjacent to a flood plain. You can check the proximity of your home to flood plains at the FEMA website.
  4. Protect critical documents. Social security cards, original birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, and divorce decrees should be stored in a safe deposit box. Click here for a list of documents you should digitize.
  5. Pack a Go-Kit. In addition to your wallet, you may wish to assemble a kit including important and valuable items such as the safe deposit key, jewelry, and a jump drive with critical computer files that can be taken quickly in the event you need to evacuate.

Reference: Kiplinger Magazine, Rivan V. Stinson, June 2022

Service Line Coverage

Did you know that you are responsible for repairs to underground service lines and pipes if the damage occurs on your property? These service lines bring water, electricity, internet, and more to your home and repairs are often costly because of the difficulty accessing them underground.

Service line endorsements provide additional coverage for the repairs to these underground lines and pipes as well as for the repairs to outdoor property such as lawns, driveways, walkways and shrubs. If your house is uninhabitable due to the damage, service line coverage endorsements can also provide you with coverage for hotel costs. Obtaining this coverage is relatively inexpensive.

Don’t get caught without coverage! Contact your agent to discuss the specific endorsements available from your carrier.

Do you need an Umbrella?

People often assume they don’t have enough assets to need an umbrella policy, but we disagree. Anyone can be sued and having an umbrella policy will protect you in case of an accident with property damage, bodily injury and more.

An umbrella policy is additional liability coverage. It protects your assets in the case of a large claim where the limits of your liability coverage on your home or auto policy would be exceeded.

Who should purchase an umbrella policy?

Do you own your home? Cars? Have a savings or retirement account? Then you could benefit from an umbrella policy.

What are the benefits of having an umbrella policy?

Peace of mind! An additional $1 million in liability coverage often costs less than $18 per month and protects your assets in the event of an accident or other lawsuit.

Interested in getting an umbrella quote? Contact us today!

Office Reopening

Good news! Our office will reopen on June 1, 2021. We will be partially staffed through the month of June and fully staffed beginning on July 1, 2021.

Social distancing requirements will remain in place. For your convenience, you have the option of meeting with your account executive inside the office or outside at the side parking lot. Due to our relatively small office size, it’s necessary to limit the number of clients in the office at any given time. Please call prior to your arrival and discuss whether you prefer to meet inside or outside. Be advised that we may not be able to accommodate you if you don’t call in advance of your arrival.

Our office staff cannot accept insurance payments at this time. We request that you continue to make payments directly to your insurance carrier.

If you choose to meet with your account executive in the office, please enter from the front of the building. Parking is available in front of the building along the street or in the back parking lot.

Thank you for your patience as we work to keep everyone safe. We look forward to seeing you again in person!

Remembering Attorney Francis Shea

The Shea family is sad to announce the passing of Attorney Francis Shea, prior owner of Laporte, Shea & Borys Insurance.

Attorney Shea was a Navy veteran and respected businessman in the city of Chicopee as well as a faithful member of St. Patrick’s Parish in Chicopee Falls. Attorney Shea will be remembered as a kind and charitable person who was deeply devoted to his faith and family.

View Full Obituary

Is your jewelry covered?

You’re washing your hands and watch with horror as your multi-carat diamond ring slides down the drain. Or you return from vacation to discover that your Rolex watch has disappeared. It’s okay, you’re covered, right? Well, maybe not.

How much does a homeowner’s insurance policy cover in the event of a jewelry loss and in what circumstances?

A standard homeowner’s policy includes coverage for precious items including jewelry. Jewelry losses are covered by your homeowner’s insurance when they are due to events listed in your policy known as “perils” such as theft and fire. But be advised that if the loss is not the result of one of these listed perils, as in the two examples above, it won’t be covered.

It’s also important to know that certain types of coverage may be limited to a specified amount. Many people aren’t aware that theft coverage for jewelry is often limited to $1,000.  

Do I need additional coverage and what’s the best way for me to purchase it?

If you have jewelry worth more than the limits of your policy, or if you wish to be covered for events beyond those of your standard homeowner’s policy, consider scheduling your jewelry on your policy.

Benefits of scheduling jewelry include:

  • Higher coverage limits.
  • Broader coverage including events such as disappearance or accidental loss.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance deductible does not apply to scheduled pieces.
  • Options to schedule only the most valuable pieces or all the jewelry you own.

Give us a call today to discuss the best option for you!

Stop Falling Trees Before They Happen

Large tree fallen over in a yard. The roots of the tree are exposed as the full tree fell.

Trees can cause damage to both people and property. When a storm blows through, high winds and heavy rains that saturate the soil may increase the likelihood of a tree falling either during the storm or after. Likewise, in the winter months, heavy snow and ice can have a similar effect. As a homeowner, you need to be vigilant about assessing the strength of the trees in your yard.

Here are some simple steps that you can take to stop a falling tree before it happens.

  1. Inspect your trees regularly. Frequent falling branches from a particular tree may indicate a problem. Mushrooms, cracks, splits, or rot at the base of a tree might indicate that it needs to be removed. Wood shavings and small holes around the base of the tree are warning signs of termite infestation. Termites live just under the soil, so dig around the tree roots and look for large winged ants.
  2. Inspect your trees after a storm. Are there any noticeable changes such as wear, cuts, or peeling to the branches, bark, or roots? Are parts of the root system newly exposed? Dead foliage may indicate damage to a particular branch. Does the tree lean more than it did prior to the storm? If you have concerns, consult with an arborist to help determine which trees, if any, have the potential to fall.
  3. Complete recommended tree maintenance. Pruning dead branches will contribute to the overall health of trees. The arborist may recommend removing limbs on a tree that is leaning to distribute the weight more evenly or stabilizing the tree by bracing it. Sometimes a cable is used to support weak branches.

Spend a little time assessing the health of the trees in your yard to identify potential threats. You might just prevent a disaster before it occurs.

Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Many people are spending more time at home due to the pandemic. Take advantage of the warm weather to check your property for damage and make necessary home repairs before they become a bigger problem.

  1. Inspect the roof – You don’t need to climb a ladder to do this. Use binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens to look for loose, missing, bald, or warped shingles. The presence of moss and lichen on shingles should be addressed because both attract and hold water on the roof surface. Consider hiring a professional for a more complete inspection. Identifying and correcting issues early can prevent much larger problems down the line such as roof leaks, structural damage, mold growth, etc. Learn more here.
  2. Clean and repair gutters and downspouts – Debris can clog the downspouts leading to leaks and rotting of adjacent wood trim. Acorns can attract unwanted rodents into the attic where they can do damage. Be sure that water is directed away from the foundation of the house to prevent it from collecting in basements and contributing to mold growth. Find more info here.
  3. Check for signs of termites – These winged insects that look like flying white ants appear in warmer weather. They can be observed flying in swarms especially at night when they are attracted to light. Holes in the woodwork or papery, hollow sounding wood are a sure sign. You might also see wings that have been shed, narrow mud tubes, or small black termite droppings deposited adjacent to their holes. Read more here.
  4. Check the foundation – Foundational areas should be cleared of organic debris and graded to slope away from the house to prevent standing water. Plantings should be spaced away from the foundation based on how much space the plant will take up at maturity. They should be spaced apart to allow for good airflow and ventilation to adjacent building materials. Mulching plantings helps to maintain even ground moisture. If you use edging, remember to provide drainage openings large enough to prevent clogging by debris. Keep 3-4 inches of the foundation exposed. Find out more here.

Give your home a thorough check. Identifying and addressing issues now could prevent the need for costly repairs later.

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

What is one of the biggest mistakes buyers make when trying to save on auto insurance? Selecting an insurance company by price alone.

Sometimes customers receive a lower quote from a “big-box” company. What these companies often don’t tell you is that they cut your coverage in order to lower the quote. And that can have big financial consequences if you have a claim.

Some of these larger companies offer a low teaser rate the first term of 6 months or a year, only to raise the premium substantially at the end of the term.

And the customer service you receive from the big-box companies may not be what you expect. Think customer service doesn’t matter? One claim that’s handled badly might change your mind.

While the big-box companies will write you a policy, they may not take the time to review your individual circumstances to identify potential gaps in coverage that might expose you to risk.

Our agency represents multiple companies so we can provide you with the best coverage from financially solid and A-rated companies at the lowest price. We take a comprehensive look at your personal insurance needs to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. Your account will be assigned to one account representative who will respond promptly to resolve your issues and is available by email, phone, or in person if you prefer. Our customer service is second to none!

Beware next time you receive a quote from a big-box company.
You might get less than you bargained for!

Office Update: Appointment Availability Beginning June 1st

Our office will be open beginning on Monday, June 1st by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Please call the office at 413-598-8304 if you need to make an appointment. We will have a limited number of staff in the office.

Our hours are Monday – Thursday 9:00am to 5:00pm and Friday 8:00am to 4:00pm.

In keeping with the requirements of the Chicopee Health Dept, all customers will be required to wear a mask or face covering and maintain social distancing when in the office. Our staff will wear masks and the office will be sanitized periodically for the safety of everyone.

As a reminder, please continue to mail your insurance payments directly to the insurance company. We will not accept payments in the office at this time.

Our commitment to you remains certain as we go through these challenging times. Please feel free to call our office if you have questions.

Best Regards,

Paul J. Shea, CIC, CPCU