What Do I Do…

If my car is involved in a hit & run?

Hit & run accidents are becoming more common. Whether your car is hit while parked or another vehicle leaves the scene of an accident, follow these steps to stay safe and get your claim filed properly.

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If you are involved in a hit and run while driving:

  • Pull over to a safe area. DO NOT try to chase the car that hit you. Chasing can lead to reckless driving, putting you and other drivers at risk.
  • Call the police to make a report.
  • If you were able to see the plate number of the car that hit you, write it down. Write down any information such as make and model of the car that hit you that you recall. Take down the time and place where the accident occurred.
  • Check for witnesses to the accident, if the police are not coming to the scene, see if they are willing to give you their contact information to put on the police report.
  • File a report with the local police and file a claim with your insurance company.

If you are involved in a hit and run while parked:

  • Call the police to make a report.
  • If the police are not coming to the scene, take pictures of the scene, take note of the time, location, and damage to your car.
  • See if there are any witnesses willing to give their contact information.
  • File a claim with your insurance company.

To report a claim with LSB click here or call the office at 598-8304.

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Sources: DMV.org Hit & RunSafety Insurance – If You’re In An Accident

Renter’s Insurance

Many renter’s assume that their landlord’s insurance is enough to protect them. Unfortunately, it is not. Your landlord’s insurance does not protect your belongings and doesn’t protect you from liability suits. That’s where renter’s insurance comes in.

Isn’t Renter’s Insurance Expensive?

Depending on your coverage, renter’s insurance can cost as little as $10-12 a month! Nationally, the average cost of renter’s insurance is $187 according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Bonus – having renter’s insurance will give you a discount on your car insurance too!

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I Don’t Own Enough to Need Insurance

While you may not own many things you think of as valuables, possessions add up quickly. Things like cell phones, TV’s, computers and even clothing are all common possessions that would be covered by your renter’s insurance. Additionally, many renter’s own furniture and kitchen appliances, adding up to thousands of dollars in personal property that they may not even think of.

Doesn’t My Landlord’s Insurance Cover Liability Claims?

Not necessarily. If someone trips and falls in your apartment, you need liability coverage. If you have a pet and someone is injured by your pet, you need  liability coverage.

According to Trusted Choice:

  • In 2011, the average cost of dog-bite claims was $29,396
  • On average, the cost of slip-and-fall accidents exceeds $12,000
  • The cost of legal defense in a slip-and-fall lawsuit is $50,000

I want Renter’s Insurance. What do I do now?

First, estimate the amount of personal property you own. You will not get paid over this amount so be sure to consider everything. You want enough coverage so that if you had a fire and lost everything you would have enough to replace your belongings and start over!

Next, call us! We will ask you a little about your apartment, such as type and age of the building and number of units. Then we will go over how much coverage you want for both property and liability and have you sign an application.

To learn more please see:

Trusted Choice – Renter’s Liability Insurance – Renting An Apartment? This Mistake Could Cost You $5,000 Or More – Trusted Choice – How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost? – 6 Myths about Renter’s Insurance – and How to Save – 6 Good Reasons To Get Renter’s Insurance

Bundle & Save

Whenever we quote an auto insurance policy we always ask the customer about their home insurance.

Why do we do this? To save you money! 

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Our carriers offer account credits to customers who insure both their auto and home with the same company (and sometimes even a different company within the same agency). These credits are often significant and can save you up to 20% off your insurance. 

When you bundle your policies, insurance companies will give you a discount on both your auto insurance and your house insurance. Our companies offer approximately 10% off auto insurance and 20% off house insurance when insured with the same company.

Not a homeowner? Not a problem! Some companies offer a family discount for those who live with family. Have an apartment or condo? You can still get an account credit with renters or condo insurance!

Benefits Beyond Savings

  • You always talk to the same person. When you call us, you deal with your agent. When you call an 800 number, you deal with whoever answers the phone.
  • We know your account. Because you always deal with the same person, we get to know you and your insurance. We know what coverage you need and know when to recommend changing coverage.
  • We represent multiple companies. Buy a new home? Have a change in your family? A new, young driver? We can quote your policies with our other carriers to see if they may be a better fit.

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Teen Driver Safety

driverulesProm, graduation, and summer are all just around the corner. Keep your teen driver safe by knowing the law and enforcing household rules.

Junior Operator License

Teenage drivers who are under 18 are subject to Junior Operator restrictions when they first get their license. These restrictions prevent teens from driving with other passengers under 18, driving between 12:30am and 5:00am, and using their cell phone while driving.

The Massachusetts RMV has great resources for parents and teens to help explain the laws and penalties associated with Junior Operator licenses. It is important for drivers to understand how easy it is to lose their license when violating these laws. First Offense violations can lead to a 60 day to year long suspension and fees ranging from $100 to $500.

JOL License and Permit Violations and Penalties

FAQs about Learner’s Permits & Junior Operator Licenses

Parent’s Guide on Junior Operator License Laws: Help Your Teen Driver Be Safe. Not Sorry.

Teen Driver Safety

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both have great tips for encouraging safe driving habits in teens.

NHTSA reminds parents to set the rules before teens hit the road with “5 to Drive“:

  • No cell phones while driving
  • No extra passengers
  • No speeding
  • No alcohol
  • No driving or riding without a seat belt

The CDC publishes the 8 Danger Zones associated with teenage drivers. The Danger Zones are:

  • Driver Inexperience
  • Driving with Teen Passengers
  • Nighttime Driving
  • Not Using Seat Belts
  • Distracted Driving
  • Drowsy Driving
  • Reckless Driving
  • Impaired Driving

By teaching young drivers to identify and prevent these dangerous habits we can create safer roads.

For more information see:

AAA Teen Driver Safety

CDC Teen Driver Safety

NHTSA Teen Driver Safety

Insurance Information Institute: Teen Drivers

Accident Forgiveness

When you have a car accident, the last thing you want to have to think about is your insurance premium increasing. Luckily, many companies are now offering Accident Forgiveness to drivers with good driving records. When added to your auto insurance, Accident Forgiveness can save you the headache of surcharges for the 6 years they would have been on your policy.

accidentWhat is Accident Forgiveness?

Accident Forgiveness is an additional coverage added to your car insurance policy. Depending on the company you are insured with, Accident Forgiveness either prevents the surcharge from being added to your policy or allows your driving credits to remain unchanged  after an accident.

Who qualifies for Accident Forgiveness?

To qualify for Accident Forgiveness you have to have a good driving record. For some companies, this means you must have no violations and no accidents in the past 6 years. For other companies, they will allow a violation or even up to one major accident on your record.

But I’m a good driver, I don’t have accidents, why should I buy Accident Forgiveness?

According to tbehindthewheelhe MA Office of Public Safety and Security there were over 100,000 car accidents in MA each year between 2010-2012 and that is just the number of reported accidents. With distracted drivers on the road, living with winter weather, and basic human error, do you really want to take the risk? Accident Forgiveness costs between $10 per car to 5% of your policy premium. Surcharges on your driving record can cost hundreds of dollars for 6 years at a time. Which would you rather pay?

Check out this flyer from the MA Division of Insurance to learn more!

 

April Showers – Umbrella Policies

What’s an umbrella policy and why should you have one?

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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.

Say you had a car accident. You have high limits on your auto policy, however you caused $1 million in damages and injuries. Even with great limits, your auto policy would have $500,000 in coverage…what happens with the other $500,000? If you don’t have an umbrella, you’re responsible for that amount. If you had an umbrella policy, it would come into play and cover that $500,000, saving your personal assets.

What does an umbrella cover?

  • Bodily injury to others
  • Property damage
  • Other kinds of legal damage (Libel, slander, etc)
  • Legal fees

Black umbrella covers home, car and money

Although umbrella insurance protects you against most types of lawsuits, there are certain kinds that many policies specifically exclude such as malpractice, workers compensation or business related claims, or intentional damage.

Why should you purchase an umbrella?

  • Do you own a home?
  • Have a retirement account?
  • Have more in assets than you have in liability coverage on your home or auto policy?

Then you should purchase an umbrella policy.  All it takes is one bad claim, get protected before that happens.

Sources:

 

More Than Just Changing the Clocks

Home Tasks for Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00am on Sunday. While we will change the clocks an hour ahead, there are several other tasks that should be completed every six months around your home.

spring forwardUse Daylight Saving Time as a reminder to complete these tasks and keep your home clean, safe, and free from claims.

Safety

  1. Check and change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to Good Housekeeping, Flames can consume a home in as little as five minutes, and the risk of dying in a fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.
  2. Vacuum out dryer vents and ducts. Prevent dryer fires by making sure your vents and ducts are lint-free.
  3. Restock emergency and first aid kits. Make sure you have flashlights, batteries, and first aid supplies in stock.

Cleaning

  • Flip your mattress or rotate if you have a pillowtop.
  • Wash your pillows to remove dust, skin, and oil. Replace pillows after two years.
  • Clean fridge coils to keep your fridge running efficiently.
  • Replace or clean filters. Check filters in air conditioners, vacuums, and fridge to make sure they are still running well.
  • Clean the oven. Clean any major spills as they occur to prevent oven fires. Deep cleaning the oven twice a year should be often enough to keep any small spills from adding up.

Technology

  • Back up devices. Back up phones, computers, and tablets so you don’t lose your data in case of a device failure or crash.
  • Update Passwords. Passwords should be updated regularly, even more often than every 6 months. Use Daylight Saving Time as a reminder if you haven’t changed your passwords lately.
  • Check that Security Software is up to date. Make sure you are running the most current version of security software to protect your devices from viruses and hackers.

For more information and directions on how to complete these tasks see our Pinterest Board – Daylight Savings Tips.

Sources: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/tips/a25268/daylight-saving-things-to-do/ http://blog.bedbathandbeyond.com/2015/10/things-daylight-saving-time-ends/ http://www.history.com/news/8-things-you-may-not-know-about-daylight-saving-time

 

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

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Spring is nearly here and, despite the mild winter, it’s important to take a comprehensive look at your home as it may be in need of routine maintenance.  Choose a warm day and walk around the house.  Here are just a few of the areas that should be inspected according to Bob Vila at bobvila.com.

Roof.  Don’t climb up on the roof.  Most problems can be seen from the ground with careful inspection using binoculars.  Look for obvious signs of problems such as cracked or missing shingles.  Less obvious signs include shifting of shingles or nails that have popped and caused the shingles to lift.

Chimney.  Are the joints between the bricks or stones in good repair or have they shifted or fallen? Is there any plant growth?  These conditions may indicate water infiltration.  White calcium deposits indicate that the joints may be absorbing water and require resealing.

Exterior Walls and Gutters.  Check for water spots which might be a sign that the gutters and downspouts are not functioning properly.  Check wood siding for damage and signs of insects.

Foundation.  Look for cracks. Don’t attempt to repair them yourself with caulking.  Hire a foundation specialist to ensure a proper repair and prevent further damage.

Windows.  Check to see that the caulking and weather stripping is in place and holding a tight seal.  Condensation inside the glass on double and triple glazed windows indicates that the seal has been compromised and the glass or window will need to be replaced.

Attic.  Check for insect and rodent damage.  Search for mold which may look like gray-black staining.  The presence of mold may indicate that insulation and/or ventilation is inadequate.

Basement.  Check carefully for dampness and mold.  You may need to address ventilation and use a dehumidifier.  Check the foundation for cracks and use a flashlight to check exposed framing.  Call a pest control company if you discover even a quarter inch of tunneling in wood.

Leaks. Check the sinks, dishwasher and laundry room for leaky faucets and clogged drains, and sweaty pipes.  Look for signs of dampness.  Are pipes properly sealed?  Do hoses have cracks, leaks, or bulges?  Does the hot water heater show signs of corrosion and leaks?  Don’t wait to address these issues.

For more tips CLICK HERE.

Is Your Identity Safe?

What is identity theft?

Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain (U.S. Dept. of Justice). Typically identity thieves use your Social Security number, credit cards, and bank accounts to make purchases, open new accounts or even get a tax refund.

How does identity theft happen?

credit-card-gold-platinum-1512626-640x480From high-tech skimmers to old-fashioned stealing, there is no shortage of ways for a thief to steal your identity.

  • Dumpster diving – Thieves look through trash or dumpsters to find bills or financial statements with personal information.
  • Skimming – Skimmers are small devices that can be attached to ATMs, gas pumps and other locations where a credit card is swiped. The device stores the information from a credit or debit card.
  • Phishing – Phishing is typically done via email. Emails impersonating a business will be sent out in an attempt to gather personal information.
  • Stealing – Pickpocketing, stealing purses or wallets, or gathering personal information during a break-in (The Standard 1/22/16).

Warning Signs and Red Flags

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
  • You don’t get your bills or other mail.
  • Merchants refuse your checks.
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
  • You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
  • Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
  • A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
  • You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account (IdentityTheft.gov).

My identity was stolen…now what?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set up IdentityTheft.gov . This site is meant to help anyone whose identity was compromised make a report of the theft and begin the steps to recovery.

Immediate steps include calling the companies where the fraud occurred, placing a fraud alert with the credit bureaus and getting your credit reports, reporting identity theft to the FTC, and filing a police report with the local police department. For a list of all recovery steps see the complete list of possible recovery steps.

Identity Theft Prevention

Online

  • Create strong passwords– Make long passwords, include special characters ($ ! * #), change passwords often and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, don’t write passwords down in an obvious place and do not share them.
  • Know what you share – Check your privacy settings on social media and know what information is shared. Phone number? Birthday? Pet’s name?
  • Avoid Phishing Scams – Do NOT click on links, open files, or download programs sent by strangers.
  • Stay Secure – Use secure wireless networks, security and anti-virus software, and password locks on your computers.
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Mobile Payment Apps & Identity Theft

Cell Phones 

  • Lock your phone – Put a password or pattern lock on your cell phone
  • Update – Update your operating system and apps. Be sure to check application updates to see if they are asking permission to access other apps on your phone (For example, an app that needs to access the camera to operate).
  • Don’t Save Logins – Especially for apps with personal or financial information

Offline 

  • Shred – Shred anything with personal information.
  • Process Mail – Do not leave mail hanging around your house. You may miss charges that were not made by you and bills have personal information and account numbers.
  • Review credit reports and account statements – verify all charges were made by you and that no new accounts were opened without your knowledge.
  • Be aware when using credit and debit cards – look out for skimmer devices, cover the pin pad when entering your pin number at ATMs, gas pumps, and at stores.

For more tips check out our Pinterest Board, Keep your identity safe!

 

Sources: Federal Trade Commission – How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure   Mobile Payment Apps and Identity Theft: What You Need to Know   How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft Online   How to Avoid Being a Victim of Identity Theft   Department of Justice – Identity Theft   IdentityTheft.gov   The Standard – Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft

 

 

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