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Condominium insurance policies are just as important to review as any homeowner’s policy. Additionally, differences exist between the two types of insurance that you’ll want to know.

Most condo association insurance policies have a master policy that protects the grounds, common areas and the structure of your condo unit. The master policy usually has a standard “bare walls” policy, which does not cover your personal property within your condo, and can leave it unprotected from fire, theft or vandalism.

While condo associations do offer “all in” policies, which cover fixtures and other items within your condo, you may still be under insured. We encourage condo owners to purchase additional coverage so that additions, alterations or any added value is covered up to its appropriate value.

When considering your condo insurance, you have the option of purchasing cash value or replacement cost. While purchasing insurance based on replacement cost may be more expensive, it is better than purchasing insurance on cash value, which only covers the depreciated value of the damaged item, not its replacement value.

At Deland, Gibson, we encourage every condo and homeowner to review their policies carefully. Please call us at 781.237.1515 if you would like to learn more about condominium insurance.

Many people understand that their homeowner’s policy covers fire and water damage, but do not realize that they are not covered in the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake. Overlooking this important aspect of insurance can be dangerous, since Massachusetts was recently reminded that we are not immune to earthquakes. The recent earthquake in Virginia was felt all the way up to Boston registering a magnitude of 5.9.

It may be a surprise that earthquake insurance is not included in a standard homeowners policy. A standard policy will, however, cover damage that results from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes. Earthquake insurance must be added as a separate endorsement because it covers damage caused to your home directly resulting from an earthquake’s shaking and cracking.

Like your standard homeowner’s policy, earthquake insurance premiums are based off the replacement value of your home. Options for earthquake insurance will vary according to the following:

• The location of your property
• The age of your property
• The style of your home’s construction
• The company that is currently insuring your standard homeowners policy
• Whether your home is a condominium, mobile home, or if you are a renter

At Deland, Gibson, we encourage you to consider earthquake coverage. Call us for more information and to learn how you can add this important coverage at 781.237.1515

In business, employers should ALWAYS request proof of insurance when hiring a subcontractor, which (at a minimum) should include worker’s compensation as well as liability coverage. This step is typically taken because there are direct financial implications at the end of the year dealing with your workers compensation audit. At Deland, Gibson, we suggest you use the same process at home.

When hiring a contractor to perform work around your house, always ask for proof of insurance. A contractor ought to have insurance that contains both liability coverage and worker’s compensation.

You may feel confident that your contractor’s insurance will cover most everything; however, if your contractor is underinsured, you may have to supplement the cost should his mistake be more than his insurance will cover.

What about this scenario: A landscaper’s lawnmower kicks up a rock into your 6 year old neighbor’s eye badly injuring the young boy – if the landscaper is without large limits you and your personal policy will now pick up the costs. This means time off work, added stress, and possible financial loss. This doesn’t even begin to address some of the new issues the child will have to deal with. (Again, these are things that you ultimately may pick up the tab for)

For more information how to transfer these risks and to make sure you have sufficient limits for you and your family, contact Deland, Gibson at 781.237.1515.

Any given day we get questions regarding the replacement cost of one’s home. This is also known as the dwelling limit on a homeowners policy. Because of this we decided to write up a quick blog to discuss why this happens.

The biggest factor behind the confusion is that real estate values do not translate into insurance replacement costs.

Since the peak in 2007 home values have gone down and inverse to that are the costs of construction. This has been consistent over the last few years – some of the data below shows this relationship:

  • 2008: Home values dropped 11%
    • FHFA reports cost to repair increased 5.8%
  • 2009: Chartis Insurance reported sale values flat to down
    • Building costs up 1%

Another question we field often is: “I know what the builder built it for, why is my insurance company telling me it’s more than that?”

The answer to this is because the insurance company would not be working with the same factors as a new build. For example:

  • If there is a partial or complete loss, the debris will have to be hauled away and there may be demolition needed.
    • This coverage is included in most homeowners dwelling coverage
  • If there is a catastrophic loss caused by a hurricane or tornado the supply and demand of construction companies and contractors will follow the basic economics of the situation
    • = Costs will go up

 

These are just a few snapshots to help with the basic understanding of insurance vs. real estate values.

If anything you read was interesting and may have spurred a question – please ask! Post a message on the board or emailinfo@delandgibson.com

Throughout the years we’ve talked to thousands of people who have lost their homes to natural disasters or fires and the results we’ve found are quite shocking. Over 90% of these people are badly uninsured. Losing your home can be one of the most traumatizing events that will ever happen to you and on top of that to then find out that you will not be getting the full value of your home back will be a total shock to the system.

Losing your home is like losing a part of your life. Imagine losing all your family photos, your clothes, your jewelry, your TV and other electrical equipment. In essence you’re losing all your life’s work and then to find out that you won’t even be getting the full value back. Unbelievable!

By now you must be wondering- “what can I do to protect myself?” Thankfully our team of local insurance experts have collected some tips to help you avoid a terrifying under insurance valuation nightmare.

Ask your Insurance Agent to Help you Calculate the Cost of Rebuilding your Home

Remember they are the experts; this is what they do for a living. Use their expertise!

Check your Valuation Independently

Even though your insurance agent has quoted you, it never hurts to have this independently verified. The more work you do, the more security you have.

Search out a Guaranteed Replacement Plan

Although companies that offer this are hard to find and even harder to get their cover, they do exist and if you are one of the lucky ones you will be guaranteed a direct replacement for all your incurred losses.

Ensure Coverage of all your Structures

Don’t forget your garages, sheds, guest houses etc. Unless actually written into your policy you might not have these structures insured. Be thorough. Why risk exposure if you can avoid it?

We hope these tips help you to ensure you get the most out of your insurance agent and guarantee that your home is insured to its full value enabling you to recover from the loss of your home as easily as possible.

We have found that local Globe writer Peter DeMarco has some great insight on rental car coverage. Here are the links to his two related articles:

Who Taught YOU to drive?

Often we are asked how to appeal a surcharge or at-fault accident. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s website does a great job explaining this and many other ticket/surcharge related events. Below details an at-fault accident. Other related links include:

How Do I Appeal an At-Fault Accident?
The Surcharge Appeal Form is printed on the back of the Surcharge Notice. To file an appeal, follow the instructions that are printed on the bottom front of your Surcharge Notice. Your request for an appeal must be filed and received within 30 days of the surcharge notice date shown on the front of your Surcharge Notice. The Board of Appeal (BOA) schedules your hearing and notifies you of the hearing date.

There is a $50 fee to file an at-fault accident appeal.

Important! If a surcharge is applied to your auto insurance premium while your appeal is pending, you must pay the additional premium or your policy will be cancelled. If the appeal is decided in your favor, you will receive a refund or credit from your insurance company for any increased premium you paid as a result of the surcharge.

For specific details about the at-fault accident appeal process, contact the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal at 617-521-7478 or visit the FAQs about Appealing a Surcharge for an At Fault Accident on the Consumer Affairs Website.

This time of year can be very stressful for one particular group of parents. When you’re son or daughter heads off to college for the first time it’s natural to worry.

You can get some peace of mind by making sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage to protect them on their first steps toward adult life. To ensure they’re protected, there are questions about insurance you’ll need to ask.

Does my Property Insurance Coverage Extend to Student Accommodation?

Watching your child load up the car to move away to college can be upsetting for a parent. It can also be surprising watching the amount of high value items they load into that car. Depending on where they’re going to live, on or off campus; you may need to get extra coverage.

The most common questions about insurance are about coverage and it’s important you understand the level of property coverage included in your policy. Check with your provider if your coverage will extend to your child’s student accommodation. With so much risk to a student’s property, it may be the most important question about insurance you ever ask.

Do I have enough Health Insurance?

The most important thing for most parents is their children’s health, so it’s important that you have the right insurance to protect it. As with your property insurance, your own health coverage should still cover them while they’re away. It will depend on the policy though. So it is important to check with your agent or provider

Do they need new Auto Insurance?
People ask questions about insurance for many different reasons, but they always put them off until the last minute. When it comes to cars, the first time people ask questions about insurance is when they need to make a claim. That’s even more common with young drivers. If your child is leaving the state to go to college, it’s important you find out the requirements for insurance in their new location and assess whether you can keep their car on your policy. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find out.

These basic insurance coverages may not be the first thing on your mind while your son or daughter prepares for college. But the answers to these questions about insurance could be vital in ensuring they have a safe and happy college life.

Renters Insurance / Condominium Unit Owner Insurance

May people question if they need to purchase this valuable coverage, or question why they should. Why purchase the insurance? Below are some simple examples of why, subject to policy terms, conditions, and limitations:

Condominium Unit Owners

Many Condominium Associations require unit owners to carry Property & Liability Coverage on their unit.

Condominium Association Master Policies do not cover unit owner “personal belongings” nor provide liability for the unit owner for losses within the unit.

Renters

Some Rental leases require the renter to carry Property & Liability Coverage.

Landlords/Building owners do not cover the renters “personal belongings” nor provide liability for the renter.

Both Condominium Unit Owners AND Renters

Why Purchase? Catastrophic losses occur. As recent as April 2012, a major fire in Marlborough MA displaced thirty families and they unfortunately lost the majority of their belongings.

You have taken precautions to always protect your belongings, however you do not have control of others. Aside from the catastrophic loss within your own unit, a claim could occur as a result of a neighbor or adjoining property. For instance, a neighboring unit or building has a fire causing you to move from your premises. Who is responsible for paying for a hotel or relocation? What if the damage is so extensive that you must move from the premises for months? What about the monthly mortgage payment?

Another example is your upstairs neighbor has leak in their shower. The damage to the ceiling may be covered by the Master Policy or landlords insurance, but if the water was extensive and caused damage to your Television, Computer, there may not be any recourse.

Insurance coverage for Condominium Unit Owners (referred to as HO-6 policies) and Renters (referred to as HO-4 policies) are written to provide various types of insurance coverage and protection for different claim scenarios.

It is important to discuss the coverage with a Deland, Gibson representative to ensure proper coverage. Not all policies are the same, and coverage is subject to the respective insurance policy’s terms, conditions, limitation, and exclusions. Policies limit certain property coverage, such as but no limited to: Jewelry, Fine Arts, Camera, Money/Currency.