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What’s the Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage?

Posted on Fri, Sep 28, 2012

It Pays To Know The Difference

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop should be there. With dismay, you discover that your home is filled with damaging water. Will your insurance policy cover this loss? That depends on the type of insurance you chose to purchase and how the water entered your house.

There basically are two insurance policies that deal with a homeowner's damage due to water -- a flood insurance policy and a homeowners insurance policy. Losses not covered by one of these policies may be covered by the other. Knowing the losses to which your home could be exposed will help you decide whether to buy one or both of these insurance coverage.

While insurance policies may differ in the coverage provided from homeowner to homeowner, there often are basic features common to all policies. You should ask your insurance agent or insurance company about the specifics of your insurance policy. In the meantime, the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) offers the following general information based on standard insurance policies.

Flood Insurance

As the name implies, a standard flood insurance policy, which is written by the National Flood Insurance Program, provides coverage up to the policy limit for damage caused by flood. The dictionary defines "flood" as a rising and overflowing of a body of water onto normally dry land. For insurance purposes, the word "rising" in this definition is the key to distinguishing flood damage from water damage. Generally, damage caused by water that has been on the ground at some point before damaging your home is considered to be flood damage. A handful of examples of flood damage include:

  • A nearby river overflows its banks and washes into your home.
  • A heavy rain seeps into your basement because the soil can't absorb the water quickly enough
  • A heavy rain or flash flood causes the hill behind your house to collapse into a mud slide that oozes into your home.

Flood damage to your home can be insured only with a flood insurance policy -- no other insurance will cover flood damage. Flood insurance is available through your insurance agent, insurance company or local Federal Emergency Management Office (FEMA). To determine if your home is located in a flood plain, contact your county planning office. If you are living in a flood plain, flood insurance may be an excellent purchase.

Homeowners Insurance

A homeowners insurance policy doesn't provide coverage for flood damage, but it does provide coverage for many types of water damage to your home. Just the opposite from flood damage, for insurance purposes, water damage is considered to occur when water damages your home before the water comes in contact with the ground. A few examples of water damage include:

  • A hailstorm smashes your window, permitting hail and rain free access into your home.
  • A heavy rain soaks through the roof, allowing water to drip through your attic or ceiling.
  • A broken water pipe spews water into your home.

Even if flood or water damage is not covered by your homeowners insurance policy, losses from theft, fire or explosion resulting from water damage is covered. For example, if a nearby creek overflows and floods your home, and looters steal some of your furnishings after you evacuate, the theft would be covered by your homeowners insurance because it is a direct result of the water damage. However, the flood damage would be covered only if you have flood insurance.

It's important to note that flood insurance and homeowners insurance do not duplicate coverage for water damage. Instead, they complement each other.

It is up to you to talk to your insurance agent or insurance company about flood insurance and homeowners insurance, and then decide which insurance coverage you need to protect your home, its contents and your family.




Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Melted Siding?

Posted on Thu, May 19, 2011

Recently, a client called to say that the siding was literally melting off their house and wanted to know if this was covered.  In the state of Massachusetts, most cases of melted siding are covered by homeowners insurance. 

The damage was apparently caused by sunlight bouncing off double-paned, energy efficient windows next door. And it turns out this same phenomena is happening with increasing frequency across much of the country.

The energy efficient windows -- called "LowE" or "low emittance" windows -- warp or bow inward, creating a concave shape, which focuses the sun's rays like a magnifying glass, reaching temperatures of over 200 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases and melting the siding.

Even though most homeowners insurance policies will cover the loss, what’s a homeowner to do to keep the problem from recurring?

  • Screens.  Placing a screen over the window can help diffuse the reflected light.
  • Trees or shrubs. Planting trees or shrubs between the offending windows can help reduce the heat. 
  • Better windows.  Some double-pane "LowE" windows do not bow inward and thus do not focus the sun's light. Windows used above elevations of 5,000 feet above sea level use small tubes or capillaries to equalize the pressure so the windows do not warp. These windows cost virtually the same as LowE windows, which use a gas to fill the space between the panes. But the no-warp windows are not available in all regions of the country.
  • Better siding.  You could replace your siding with a higher grade of vinyl siding or another exterior cladding.  Some siding contains an additive (one brand is Lubrizol), which raises the melting point to 220 degrees (normal grade vinyl siding begins to distort at 160-165 degrees). The better grade siding is more expensive, but it's also more durable.

As more builders and homeowners are trying to become more energy efficient, LowE windows are becoming more common. Some building codes call for them. The problem of melting siding will most likely increase so taking precautions to prevent recurrence is a wise course of action.



FMLA and Workers’ Compensation – Common Questions Answered

Posted on Fri, Mar 21, 2014

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and state workers’ compensation laws may both cover an employee who suffers a serious health condition while on the job. The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued revised regulations that implement the FMLA. Though the interplay between the FMLA and workers’ compensation leaves was addressed within those regulations, a number of DOL letter rulings have also clarified the interaction of these laws. 

Below are answers to common questions regarding employee leaves that qualify for protection under both the FMLA and workers’ compensation laws.

Does FMLA leave run concurrently with a workers’ compensation absence?

The employee’s FMLA leave entitlement may run concurrently with a workers’ compensation absence when the injury is one that meets the criteria for a “serious health condition.” Thus, an employee could receive workers’ compensation benefits to replace lost wages, while at the same time having health benefits maintained under the FMLA. However, if appropriate, the employer must be sure to designate this leave as FMLA-qualifying leave and must give notice of the same to the employee. If the employer fails to designate this leave as FMLA leave, the employee may still be entitled to FMLA leave once the workers’ compensation absence has ended.

Can an employer require an employee to substitute accrued paid leave if the employee is on workers’ compensation and FMLA leave?

Since the workers’ compensation absence is already considered paid leave, the FMLA provision for substitution of the employee’s accrued paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave does not apply. More specifically, if the employee has elected to receive workers’ compensation benefits, the employer cannot require the employee to substitute any accrued paid leave for any part of the absence that is covered by the payments under a workers’ compensation plan. However, an employee is also precluded from relying upon the FMLA’s substitution provision to insist upon receiving both workers’ compensation and accrued paid leave benefits during such an absence. However, employers and employees may agree, where state law permits, to have paid leave supplement the disability plan or workers' compensation benefits, such as in the case where a plan only provides replacement income for two-thirds of an employee's salary.

What benefits is an employee entitled to while on concurrent workers’ compensation and FMLA leave?

If the employer designates the workers’ compensation absence as FMLA leave, then the employee is entitled to all employment benefits accrued prior to the date on which the leave commenced. The FMLA does not entitle the employee to the accrual of any seniority or employment benefits during any period of FMLA leave, nor to any right, benefit or position of employment other than that to which he or she would have been entitled had the employee not taken the leave. Thus, an employee on FMLA leave does not accrue seniority or employment benefits during the absence by operation of the FMLA. Nevertheless, in addition to the group health benefits guaranteed under the FMLA, an employee on FMLA leave, whether paid or unpaid, may be entitled to additional benefits while absent, depending on the employer’s established policy for providing such benefits when employees are absent on other forms of leave.

How may an employee on concurrent workers’ compensation and FMLA leave pay for group health coverage?  For other non-health benefit premiums?

An employee who is receiving payment as a result of a workers’ compensation injury must make arrangements with the employer for payment of group health plan benefits when simultaneously taking unpaid FMLA leave. It is important that the employer make such arrangements with the employee in advance of the leave or shortly after the leave begins since the FMLA provision for recovery of the employer’s share of health insurance premiums does not apply. That is, the FMLA statute only authorizes the recovery of the employer’s share of insurance premiums that are paid to maintain coverage for the employee under a group health plan during any period of unpaid leave.   Leave taken pursuant to a workers’ compensation plan is not unpaid leave within the meaning of the FMLA.

Likewise, an employer will also want to make prior arrangements for employee payment of other non-health benefit premiums when an employee is receiving payment as a result of a workers’ compensation injury and is simultaneously taking unpaid FMLA leave. Again, neither the FMLA statute nor its regulations provide for the employer’s recovery of any such premiums paid during a paid leave as opposed to during an unpaid leave.

What may an employer do if it questions the adequacy of a medical certification?

If an employee is on FMLA leave running concurrently with a workers’ compensation absence, and the provisions of the workers’ compensation statute permit the employer or the employer’s representative to have direct contact with the employee’s workers’ compensation health care provider, the employer may follow the workers’ compensation provisions. That is, the employer may have direct contact with the employee’s health care provider in the manner in which the workers’ compensation statute provides. Further, the revised FMLA regulations also provide that an employer can contact an employee’s health care provide to authenticate or obtain clarification of the medical certification, so long as the employer has first given the employee a chance to cure any deficiencies.

Is an employee required to return to a “light duty” job when it is not the same job or is not equivalent to the job the employee left?   

If the health care provider treating the employee for the workers’ compensation injury certifies the employee is able to return to a light duty job, the employee may decline the employer’s offer of a light duty job if it is not the same or is not an equivalent job to the job the employee left. However, as a result of turning down such light duty job, the employee may lose workers’ compensation payments, but is entitled to remain on unpaid FMLA leave until the FMLA entitlement is exhausted. Additionally, when the workers’ compensation benefits cease, the employee may elect or the employer may require the use of accrued paid leave.

If the employee accepts the light duty position in lieu of FMLA leave or returns to work before the FMLA leave entitlement ends, the employee retains the right to the original or to an equivalent position. However, the period of time employed in a light duty assignment cannot count against FMLA leave entitlement. The right to restoration is held in abeyance during the period of time the employee performs a light-duty assignment. That right is not unlimited and ceases at the end of the applicable 12-month FLMA leave year. Restoration is dependent on the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the same or equivalent position at the end of FMLA leave.

What happens to an employee on concurrent workers’ compensation and FMLA leave once the FMLA leave entitlement has run out?

If the employee is unable to return to work or is still in a light duty job after the FMLA leave entitlement has run out, the employee no longer has the protections of the FMLA and must look to the workers’ compensation statute or to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (if the employee is a “qualified individual with a disability”) for any further relief or protections.

Please contact us with any questions.



Does My Business Need Massachusetts Workers Compensation?

Posted on Mon, Jun 14, 2010

The Massachusetts workers compensation system is in place to make sure that workers are protected by insurance if they are injured on the job or contract a work-related illness. Below are answers to some common employer questions about workers compensation.

I am the owner of a very small business, with only a few employees. Do I need workers' compensation insurance?

All employers in Massachusetts are required by state law to carry workers' compensation insurance covering their employees, including themselves if they are an employee of their company. This requirement applies regardless of the number of hours worked in any given week, except that domestic service employees must work a minimum of 16 hours per week in order to require coverage.

I own a small business. The only person working with me is my wife (or son, or brother). Do I need workers compensation insurance?

Yes, family members must be covered by workers' compensation insurance, even if they are they only employees of the company.

I am a corporate officer, the sole owner of the corporation. I have two employees working for me; I know I need workers' compensation insurance for my employees, but do I have to cover myself?

No; on July 25, 2002, a change in the workers' compensation law went into effect which allowed corporate officers who own at least 25 % of the corporation to exempt themselves from WC coverage. Such corporate officers can file the Affidavit of Exemption for Certain Corporate Officers - Form 153 with the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) to exempt themselves. This change does not affect the requirement that all employers cover their employees with Workers Compensation insurance.

I'm self-employed, the sole proprietor of my company which is not incorporated; do I need to get workers' compensation insurance for myself?

As the sole proprietor of an unincorporated business the law does not require you to insure yourself. However, under a recent change to the law, sole proprietors and partnerships (that have no employees) can now obtain insurance if they so choose. If you do work for a general contractor they may want you purchase a policy in order to work on a particular job they are overseeing.

I am the owner of a business outside of Massachusetts and have been hired to do some work in Mass., do I need to get a Massachusetts workers comp policy?

Out of state employers are required to cover all their employees, who are working in Massachusetts, with workers' compensation benefits under Massachusetts law. You do not need to buy a policy strictly for Massachusetts if in your existing workers' comp policy Massachusetts coverage is listed in Section 3.A of the policy's Information Page.

If Massachusetts is specifically listed in Section 3.C of the Information Page, the policy is acceptable only if the Insurer (insurance carrier) verifies the coverage in Massachusetts.  The Insurer must forward a statement verifying workers' compensation coverage in Massachusetts to the Office of Investigations.  If the Insurer fails to meet this requirement, a Stop Work Order is immediately issued.

Furthermore, any notation in Section 3.C of the policy's information page that "all states are covered" or "all states are covered except those listed in Item 3.A and the States of: North Dakota, Ohio, Washington and Wyoming" or something similar is acceptable only upon verification of workers' compensation coverage in Massachusetts by the insurer.  The insurer must forward a statement verifying workers' compensation coverage in Massachusetts to the Office of Investigations.   If the insurer fails to meet this requirement, a Stop Work Order shall be issued immediately.




Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

Posted on Thu, Dec 06, 2012

Freezing weather may bring discomforts but frozen water pipes can be avoided with a little planning and a few simple steps.  Pipes freeze for a combination of three central reasons: sudden drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low. Both plastic and copper pipes can burst when they freeze.  Recovering from frozen pipes is not as simple as calling a plumber. A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the immediate potential for mold.

Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, such as outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

Before the cold weather strikes

  • Drain water from sprinkler and swimming pool supply lines.  Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife and landscaping.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Insulate both hot and cold water pipes in unheated areas such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. A hot water supply line can freeze just as a cold water supply line can freeze.
  • Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes, and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
  • Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap exposed water pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers' installation and operation instructions.

Take preventive action when the mercury drops

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around un-insulated pipes.
  • A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip (at a minimal amount) from the faucet served by exposed pipes.
  • During extreme cold, keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.  You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature – more common overnight – could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

If Your Pipes Do Freeze

Just because your pipes do freeze, doesn’t mean they’ve already burst. Here’s what you can do:

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Try to locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Make sure a heating pad, hair dryer or other electrical devices do not come into contact with water.
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored.
  • If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may also freeze.
  • If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.

Future Protection

Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing. For example, if the home is being remodeled, a professional can relocate pipes.

To maintain higher temperatures, add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces.



Is Your Auto Insurance At Risk When You Carpool?

Posted on Fri, Sep 07, 2012

For many parents, carpooling the neighborhood kids to and from school or sporting events is just another part of their every day routine. Carpooling helps to reduce vehicle expenses, not to mention stress, and as an added bonus, it’s better for the environment.

If you do carpool, it's important to know if your current car insurance policy will protect you, and your precious cargo, should you get into an accident.

Having regular passengers in your vehicle, can increase the potential for injuries and liability, put plainly - lawsuits. And the financial losses could exceed your insurance coverage.  Consider the following with regards to your auto insurance if you’re the driver of a carpool.

  • Increase your liability coverage:  Increasing your liability insurance coverage and adding an umbrella policy can help protect you from the personal financial liabilities that injured carpoolers or damaged property could bring.  As an example, moving your liability coverage from 1 million dollars to 2 million often costs very little in additional premiums, but can protect you financially in case of an accident. 
  • Reconsider medical payment coverage: Medical payments coverage makes additional medical payments for your passengers if they are in an accident while you are driving. You may wish to increase this coverage in order to reflect the number of passengers you carpool.

It’s okay to take gas money but if you’re paid to “taxi” people around, your personal auto insurance will not cover you.  This exclusion does not apply to the use of your auto in a share-the-expense car pool arrangement or in an expense reimbursement program either as a volunteer or at work.

Maybe there are some days when you are not the driver but your child is a carpool rider in someone else’s vehicle. If you or your child is seriously injured as a carpool rider, you’re going to first look to the at-fault driver’s insurance for coverage. Assuming the at-fault driver has car insurance, her bodily injury liability coverage will pay for the injuries to your child, up to the coverage limits.

What if the injuries exceed those limits, which need only be the minimum required by law? You’ll next look to your own automobile insurance coverage. Since your vehicle wasn’t involved, and you weren’t driving, you’ll fall back on what’s called uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). Many people think little, if at all, about this coverage, because they’re mostly worried about their exposure to others if they’re at fault. But this coverage can be crucial to getting a full recovery for your child’s injuries. You should check your auto insurance policy to make sure that you have more than the legal minimum coverage the law requires.

When you carpool, the safety of others is your responsibility on the days you drive. Ensure that safety by taking your time, driving responsibly, and having sufficient auto insurance coverage. To increase your coverage or find out all the different factors that can affect your car insurance rates, give us a call at 800-922-8381.



Should I File A Pothole Damage Claim?

Posted on Thu, Feb 27, 2014

You’re cruising down the road and you hit the Grand Canyon of potholes.  What happens if it causes damage to your vehicle? Does auto insurance come into play? Filing a pothole damage claim is one thing, but whether or not you should is something you should consider. 

How a Pothole Damage Claim Works

A pothole damage claim is considered a single car accident, which is filed as an at-fault accident by your insurance carrier. The damage is covered under the collision portion of your auto insurance policy, and your deductible will apply. However, most collision policies exclude tire damage, one of the main results of a collision with a pothole.

Sometimes colliding with a pothole damages more than just a tire, especially when you’re traveling at a higher rate of speed. Unexpectedly hitting a deeper pothole at 40 or 50 miles per hour can cause costly repairs to wheels, suspension and even the car’s undercarriage. Again, collision coverage will cover the cost of the repairs -- minus the deductible -- up to the limits of your policy.

Whatever the damage, if the cost of repairs doesn't reach your deductible amount or is barely above it, then it wouldn’t be worth filing a claim with your auto insurance provider. Additionally, your rates could go up at your next renewal due to filing an at-fault claim and you could receive a surcharge on your premium.

An Alternative to Filing a Claim

Hitting a pothole might not be your fault. If it’s a road that is maintained by a city or a town you can file a claim with that community since it’s their responsibility to maintain the road but don't hold your breath waiting for compensation. If the agency didn't know about the pothole, or didn't have time to respond to a previously reported pothole, it won't pay for your repairs. Local residents, please note that the town of Northbridge will not pay for pothole damage. For other towns, check with your Town Manager to see if the damage could be covered.

If you hit a pothole on a Massachusetts state road you’re out of luck, because state law gives the state a pass on that.  The state has no liability if a car is damaged.  The only liability comes if a person is injured.



What to Know About Insuring a Snowmobile

Posted on Tue, Jan 07, 2014

Although a blast, snowmobiling is a risky winter sport for several reasons. The speed these machines can travel, the fact that trails can be multi-use, and the high likelihood of compromised visibility can make snowmobiling tricky. Every year, snowmobilers are involved in accidents resulting in personal injury, damage to their sleds, and harm to other snowmobilers and other people’s property.

Snowmobile insurance may help protect you from expenses associated with bodily injury and property damage, whether yours or someone else’s. 

Is snowmobile insurance required?

Depending on where you live, you may or may not be required to carry snowmobile insurance. Check with your state government to find out whether you need insurance before you ride. Additionally, make sure you contact your state’s park service for other specific requirements. Some states require trail permits, for example. And some states require your snowmobile to be registered with the state. 

Do I need snowmobile insurance?

Even if snowmobile insurance isn't mandatory where you live, having a policy in place is a good idea.  This insurance coverage is relatively inexpensive and there are many benefits to getting snowmobile insurance coverage. Here are a few reasons this protection makes sense:

  • Snowmobiles are pricey - A used snowmobile might go for around $2,000, but a top-of-the-line new one could cost upwards of $15,000. Insuring your investment can help you recoup major dough if it's damaged or stolen, and it can protect you from liability in case of a mishap.
  • Snowmobiles can be perilous – Snowmobile riding can be exhilarating and great fun, but it also poses some dangers. Since you're riding in the snow, it can be hard to see objects like tree stumps, rocks, and fences. And today’s snowmobiles can weigh as much as 600 pounds and can reach speeds as high as 90 miles per hour, which naturally tends to increase the risk of accidents and injury.
  • Snowmobile insurance can protect your passengers - If you're involved in an accident and your passenger is injured, your snowmobile insurance can kick in to help pay those expensive medical bills.
  • Roadside assistance can come in handy - Roadside assistance, an add-on to your snowmobile insurance policy, can save the day if you find yourself stranded after an accident or breakdown — or even if you just lose your key.

What types and amounts of snowmobile insurance coverage do I need?

A lot depends on your personal financial situation. A good way to measure is to look at your automobile insurance coverage. Let’s assume here that you have very carefully analyzed your assets and finances, and feel certain that you are fully protected when it comes to auto insurance. It is probably wise, then, to insure your snowmobile following the same analysis and criteria. The types of coverage you should consider purchasing are:

  • Liability - There are two categories of liability coverage: personal injury and property. Personal injury liability coverage applies to injuries you cause to someone else. Property liability applies to damage you cause to another person’s belongings.  Because most snowmobiles are large fast moving vehicles, the chance of an accident is fairly high.
  • Personal Injury Protection - Personal injury protection coverage pays for injuries to you and your passengers.
  • Comprehensive - Like car insurance, snowmobiles need to be insured against storm damage, fire, theft, and a few other possibilities. Since snowmobiles are expensive and desirable pieces of equipment that can be damaged or sought out by thieves, it just makes good sense to cover this possibility of a loss.
  • Collision - A collision policy may be necessary if your snowmobile still has a loan outstanding. Collision coverage pays for damage to your snowmobile caused by a collision with another sled, automobile or other object.

Since the costs associated with a snowmobile accident could be equivalent to those from an automobile accident, it would be prudent to insure your snowmobile in similar types and amounts as with your car.

Won’t homeowners insurance cover my snowmobile?

Don’t assume that your homeowner’s insurance will cover your snowmobile. It most likely will not.  If you have any doubt, make sure that you check your policy or call your agent. Additionally, accidents caused by snowmobiles may be excluded from your health insurance policy. Before you buy snowmobile insurance, always check to see what you may or may not have on other policies. Sometimes, snowmobiles can be added as a rider to other policies.

Should I keep my snowmobile insurance all year?

Probably. Here's why: canceling your snowmobile insurance during the warmer months might end up costing you more in the long run. It could be more expensive to cancel and reactivate your policy than to just maintain coverage year-round. And weather damage or theft can happen anytime.

Random notes

As with your auto insurance, you may be eligible for discounts on your snowmobile policy. Talk to your insurance agent. Also, if you take your snowmobile to another state, on vacation for example, check the insurance requirements in that state and make sure you are fully covered.



Is Earthquake Insurance Really Necessary In Massachusetts?

Posted on Thu, Nov 01, 2012

Two weeks ago a moderate earthquake, registered at a magnitude of 4.0, rattled New England and frightened some residents.  Even though the quake took place about 3 miles under the earth's surface it was felt throughout most of New England.

Many Massachusetts residents felt the effects of the earthquake but fortunately there were no reports of injury or damage in the Bay State.

Believe it or not, the Northeast is earthquake country! No, it does not have the high frequency of earthquakes of California. However, the Northeast has experienced damaging earthquakes in the past and they will occur again in the future.

Northeast Earthquake Facts*

  • The cities in the Northeast are among the most densely populated areas in the United States, which places more people at risk in the event of an earthquake.
  • The area impacted by an earthquake in the Northeast can be up to 40 times greater than the same magnitude event occurring on the West coast due to our regional geology.
  • Approximately 40-50 earthquakes are detected annually in the Northeast.
  • The Northeast is home to many older and historic structures that are not designed to withstand the impacts of an earthquake.
  • Many older structures in the Northeast, such as schools, hospitals and fire stations, are built of un-reinforced masonry (i.e., "red brick") and are particularly vulnerable to damage or collapse in the event of an earthquake.
  • Most states in the Northeast have adopted some seismic provisions into their state building codes for certain types of new construction. However, the coverage, scope and enforcement of these codes vary by state and community.
  • Unlike other areas of the country where earthquakes occur along known fault lines (e.g., California), Northeast earthquakes do not correlate with the many known faults that exist in the region.
  • While there are many uncertainties about what causes earthquakes in the Northeast, one thing is certain: earthquakes will continue to occur in this region.

Earthquake Insurance Misconceptions

There are two primary misconceptions about earthquake insurance. First, many property owners assume their homeowners insurance policy will cover the damages resulting from earthquakes. No standard homeowners policy covers direct damage from earth movement, which includes earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes.  Homeowners interested in getting earthquake coverage will either need to see if their current insurer offers a rider on their homeowners policy or search for a separate policy altogether.

Second, is the belief that earthquake insurance is expensive. Based on the coverage options you decide on, earthquake insurance is very affordable.  The cost depends on a variety of factors such as the cost of your home, the construction materials (brick costs more to ensure than frame construction), the age of the house and the location.

Know What's Covered

Generally speaking, earthquake insurance covers damages to the home or its contents that are caused by earthquake. This might include collapsed walls or valuables that were destroyed inside the house.

Some other earthquake-related damages might not be covered. For example, flood that results from an earthquake, whether caused by tidal wave, tsunami, or otherwise, may not be covered by earthquake insurance. Every policy will cover some damages but not others, so it's essential to read the policy thoroughly.

When you decide to purchase earthquake insurance, remember you should buy enough to cover the cost to rebuild your home as well as replace personal possessions.   An independent insurance agent can help determine the replacement value of your home.

*Northeast States Emergency Consortium


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