Lallis and Higgins Blog

Ways to Protect Your Home When On Summer Vacation

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Lallis & Higgins Insurance -- Quincy, Weymouth, MA

When you’re excited about vacation, it’s easy to forget about what you’re leaving behind. That is, until you get to the airport and wonder: Did I lock the door? Is the iron on? Is the garage door open? Secure your home before you leave so you can travel with maximum confidence and peace of mind. These home security tips for when you’re on vacation will help ensure that you won’t return to any unpleasant surprises.

1. Lock the doors and windows

Locking up might seem too obvious to mention, but an estimated 32% of burglars enter through unlocked doors. Windows are also weak points, so keep them closed and locked, even on the upper floors. A clever burglar can still access them, and an open window anywhere in the house might let in animals, rain or wind.

2. Clear out the mailbox

Mail piling up is a tip-off that no one’s home. Have a trusted neighbor, friend or housesitter collect your mail and keep it safely out of sight. Alternatively, you can request a temporary mail hold or mail forwarding through If you subscribe to any newspapers or subscription boxes, pause your delivery.

3. Use lights to create the illusion that someone’s home

Darkness is another trademark of an empty house — it also allows thieves to sneak in undetected. Nix that vulnerability by leaving a few lights on. Better yet, use motion detector lights to illuminate any intruders, or opt for smart lighting so you can set the lights to a timer and control them remotely.

4. Keep the yard maintained

Unless you have an extremely low-care yard, the lawn or garden will definitely need attention if you’re gone long enough. Make sure your landscaping professional continues working in your absence, and if you don’t have one, ask a neighbor or hire temporary help. If you live in a wintry climate, consider snow removal as well.

5. Leave a car in the driveway

Former burglars have reported that a vehicle in the driveway is a major deterrent in scoping out potential targets, because it almost always means that someone is home. Leave your (locked) car where people can see it, or see if a neighbor wants to park there.

6. Hide or lock up valuables

Easy-to-grab expensive items are extremely alluring to criminals. Conceal and secure the high-value items in both your home and garage. Lock up the most important things in a household safe. Remember that many thieves don’t draw the line at stealing physical goods — they also want to steal your identity. Lock up social security cards, financial information and any personal identification that you’re not bringing with you.

7. Don’t broadcast your plans online

Don’t post about your vacation on social media until after you return (and make sure your kids don’t either). By sharing travel plans, you’re advertising that your house will be empty. You can never be completely sure who sees that information, especially if you have many followers or a public profile.

8. Get your security system ready

If you have a home security system or security cameras, make them obvious to potential intruders. Cameras should be conspicuous so they can see and be seen. Post home security signs and decals prominently. If you don’t have a system, fake signs might be better than nothing. Also, make sure the security system and any automated devices you have are programmed correctly for your absence. If you have a professionally monitored system, inform the company that you’re going away. Make sure cameras, smoke detectors and any other components are on and in good working order, and that your smart home devices are programmed appropriately.

9. Adjust the thermostat

Adjust the thermostat to prevent the HVAC system from needlessly heating or cooling empty rooms. Programmable smart thermostats make this a lot easier, and you can remotely adjust them to comfortable temperatures for when you get back.

10. Prevent water damage

Some experts recommend turning off the house’s main water supply valve to prevent possible water damage from leaky pipes. This is a viable option if you live in a moderate climate and the house will be empty, but if you live in a cold area, or someone will be checking in while you’re gone, you probably want to leave the water on.

For more information on home insurance and protection, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


Motorcycle Insurance to Meet Your Needs, Lifestyle and Riding Habits

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 17, 2019
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Quincy, Weymouth, MA

Motorcyclists are a special breed. The feeling of hopping on and catching the wind appeals to your unique sense of self-reliance and independence. We get it. We share your love of cruising the open road and feeling the kind of freedom only a motorcycle can offer. Of course, not all riders are alike. That’s why we tailor the precise motorcycle policy you need to protect yourself and whatever style of bike you ride. All so you can roll with greater enjoyment and peace of mind.

There are as many kinds of motorcycles as there are riders. And as the popularity of motorcycling continues to grow, especially among women, more styles and sizes of bikes come onto the market each year. Whether you’re into cruisers, choppers, sport cycles, touring bikes, scooters, or dirt bikes Lallis & Higgins Insurance has the motorcycle coverage you need to properly protect it. Enjoy the flexibility of choosing the best policy to fit your life by letting a knowledgeable independent agent work with you to craft coverage to meet your unique needs.

    +Custom Parts and Equipment
    +OEM Parts Coverage
    +Gear Replacement at No Extra Cost
    +New Harley-Davidson® Replacement Cost

What Your Motorcycle Policy Covers

Your mandatory motorcycle insurance requirements will depend on where you live. Of course, Safeco policies are written to satisfy all state requirements, so talk with a local independent agent to learn about mandatory insurance levels in your area including:

    +Bodily Injury Liability
    +Guest Passenger Liability
    +Property Damage Liability

Enhanced Coverage Options

    +Medical Payments
    +Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage
    +Roadside Assistance
    +Trip Interruption Coverage

For more information on the best motorcycle insurance for your needs and lifestyle, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

Modern Insurance for Your Classic Car

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 10, 2019

It takes more than age to make it a classic. A collector car isn’t just a way to get around. It’s an investment that will continue to appreciate in coming years. Not all classic or antique cars are used the same, so Lallis & Higgins Insurance will work with you to select the appropriate antique care policy to accommodate coverage needs, miles driven, vehicle age, and vehicle modifications to make sure you have the best policy to meet your needs. Here are some features you should look for when shopping for classic car insurance:

  • Agreed Value: This means the provider will pay you the full (agreed to) amount in the event of a covered total loss, less any applicable deductible. This type of coverage is much better than “actual cash value” or “stated value” that you may get with some companies.
  • Low Rates: Why pay full-time insurance when you driver your collector car only part-time.
  • Coverage Options: Not all collector cars are the same, so Lallis & Higgins Insurancecan work with you to determine the right amount of coverage to meet your specific needs.
  • Generous Mileage: You’re proud of your collector car, so drive it. Not all insurance companies have a mileage limit, but most collector cars should be driven less than 5,000 annual miles to maintain their value.
  • Roadside Assistance: Whether you’re down the street or on a classic rally through the mountains, you’ll want to find coverage that will flatbed your car to the closest qualified repair facility.

Do you need the insurance for your prize Mustang, Camaro, Charger, Corvette, Thunderbird, or other collector car? Talk with Lallis & Higgins Insurance today to identify the best combination of coverage, value, and price for you. We can help make sure your insurance continually meets your needs.

Insuring a Vacation Home

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, June 04, 2019
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Quincy, Weymouth, MA

Vacation homes present special risks.

Like any residence, your vacation home needs to be insured —but because the risks are different, the coverage might cost more than your primary homeowners policy.

Second homes provide a respite from weekday life, and may even be a good investment. They also, however, present more of an insurance risk than your primary residence—the fact that you don’t not physically occupy your second home as frequently puts it in more danger for theft, vandalism and easily undetected damage, like burst water pipes.

Key factors that impact vacation home insurance costs

While the homeowner policy for your second home will provide the same types of coverage as your primary home insurance policy, the following factors will likely impact your insurance costs:

Location is always a factor in homeowners insurance costs—for example, you need additional insurance if your dwelling is in a flood- or earthquake-prone area. With vacation homes the very location that makes a place desirable may also make it more expensive to insure. For instance, a ski house or hunting lodge in a remote or mountainous area could be at greater risk for damage due to wildfire. A beach house may be more exposed to wind damage or storm surge from a hurricane. These location-based risks will impact the price of coverage, and in some cases may even incur higher deductibles.

Type of property. As with any house, the age and type of building materials used in a vacation home will impact the cost of insurance. Is it a single-occupancy house, a condominium or a townhouse. A condo in a ski resort area may have lower insurance costs than a stand-alone chalet, because a homeowners association maintains the property and may provide some security.

Amenities. Though wonderful for relaxation, pools and hot tubs add risk to your second home. If your vacation residence is equipped with these or other special amenities, you may pay a higher insurance premium and you should also consider additional liability protection, which will increase insurance costs, as well.

Ways to save on second home insurance costs

There are steps that you can take to help make the cost of insurance more affordable.

  • Choose a location with less risk — A home further from the beach won't be as susceptible to high winds or storm surges, for instance.
  • Bundle your policies — If you insure your second home with the same insurer that provides coverage for your primary residence, you may be able to save on premiums.
  • Install an alarm system — A centrally monitored alarm system that detects both fire and break-ins can help lower the cost of insurance.

If you plan to rent your vacation home to others, your homeowners insurance costs will likely increase, and you may need to purchase additional coverage.

Because renting your second home entails additional, more complex risks, it’s a good idea to consult with your insurance professional and learn more about coverage for renting out your home to others.

For more information on insuring a vacation rental home, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


Car Insurance for Recent College Grads

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 27, 2019
Lallis & Higgins Insurance, Quincy, Weymouth, MA

On average, drivers younger than 25 pay more for car insurance than do drivers in any other age bracket. While there isn’t a set age for recent grads, many do fall in within 21-to-25 cohort. Let’s review some helpful policy information worth being aware of.

Car insurance for college grads, ways to save

Although shopping around and comparing rates from different insurance providers is the best way to find cheap car insurance, there are other solutions worth keeping in mind.

Look into telematics programs

Telematics are in-car devices which monitor the way you drive in order to more accurately determine your premium. With traditional auto insurance, non-driving related characteristics are used to determine your rates. With telematics, your premium will be determined by driving habits, including:

  • Braking
  • Acceleration speed
  • Time of day driven
  • Overall speeds

Bundle your renters or homeowners policies with your auto insurance

Consider bundling renters or homeowners policy with your auto insurance on the same company. This will simplify the payment process and potentially provide a discount. On average, you can save $56 by bundling your home and auto policies.

Educational discounts

Many insurance companies provide discounts for “good students’. In most cases it requires a driver with under six years driving to have a B or better grade point average.

Be smart with your insurance coverage

If you have an older vehicle, consider whether having collision or comprehensive coverage is worth it. Unlike liability insurance, these coverages are only required if you’re leasing your vehicle or have a loan on the vehicle. If your car is bought and paid for and the value of the vehicle greater than $4,000, you might benefit from reducing coverage. While the cost of coverage options will depend, they can account for half of your monthly payments.

Bear in mind, however, that by doing this you put yourself at risk if you're in an at-fault accident as comprehensive and collision protect your car. So, if you still want full coverage for your vehicle in the event of an accident, keep comprehensive and collision.

Can you stay on your parent’s insurance plan?

Unlike health insurance, you cannot age out of an insurance policy. However, leaving your parent’s address and taking a car with you can make you ineligible. Because car insurance is zip code specific, your policy needs to priced for the garaging address the vehicle is the majority of the time.

If you get a job in another city and move, you will need an insurance plan for your new residence. Bear in mind, your parent’s can still pay for it - an insurance company doesn’t care who pays the bills.

Car insurance and roommates

Once you graduate from college, it’s likely you will have a roommate or two — it's cheaper than living alone, and, depending on the roommate, it can be fun. Your insurance company understands living with other people, but they do have some concerns that can complicate your relationship with your insurance company.

For more information, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

Condo Insurance Covers What the Association Policy Does Not

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 20, 2019
Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MA

Condo Insurance fills your coverage gaps. Condo associations have master policies that cover the property, common areas, and outside/physical structure of your condo. But, you can't simply rely on your association's master policy. Your association's policy only covers the things they're responsible for, and not what you're responsible for.

Condo insurance (or condominium insurance ) covers your belongings, upgrades to your unit (new granite countertops, etc.), injuries at your place, certain lawsuits against you, etc. Without condo insurance, you'd have no coverage for these things.

When you should consider condo insurance

Condo insurance is for you if you own a condominium, townhome, row home, or other unit that has an association. It's similar to homeowners, but often more affordable because it excludes coverages your association is responsible for. If you rent a condo, you'd instead need renters insurance—or homeowners insurance if you own a home. Not sure? Just get a condo insurance quote. We'll ask the right questions.

If you have a mortgage, your lender will likely require condo insurance. We'll help coordinate the details with your lender. Plus, you'll usually be able to combine your insurance payments in your monthly mortgage bill (called escrow).

Condo insurance coverages we offer

We offer coverages for your belongings, any upgrades you make to your condo (granite countertops, custom cabinets, etc.), lawsuits against you, and more. Keep in mind, your association covers the physical structure of your condo.

Your personal possessions

Your clothes, electronics, furniture, appliances, tools, power equipment, etc. are all covered (even if they're not in your condo). If you have expensive jewelry, art, or other items, you'll likely need separate coverage. We offer that too!

Example: Your roof leaks and water damages thousands of dollars worth of clothes, furniture, etc. Typically, your association would be responsible for the damages to your stuff. But if they won't pay up, your condominium insurance would kick in to cover these.

Upgrades and customizations

We'll cover most upgrades you've made, such as hardwood floors, granite countertops, new kitchen cabinets, etc. Some association's policies may cover the original furnishings, but very few will cover your upgrades.

Example: A pipe bursts and water damages your custom kitchen cabinets and appliances. Your association may pay to repair the pipe, but they won't pay for any damage to your upgrades. If you still had the original countertops that were damaged, your association may cover those.

Temporary living expenses

If your condo is damaged, and you can't stay there during repairs, your insurance kicks in. Condo insurance covers hotel stays and meals (above what you'd normally pay).

Example: A fire damages your condo, and you have to spend $2,000 to stay two weeks at a hotel. That bill would be covered, plus your meal expenses above your usual food costs. Make sure you keep your receipts.

Injuries and lawsuits against you

This coverage is called personal liability. It covers lawsuits against you or your family members if you're responsible for someone else's injuries or damages to their property. You can add extra coverages for libel, slander, or other lawsuits.

Example: A delivery person falls on your steps, breaks their leg, damages their merchandise, and then their company sues you. This will pay for their medical bills, lost wages if they can't work from an injury, and the damaged merchandise.

For more information on Condo Insurance, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


Renting Out Your Home

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 16, 2019
Lallis & Higgins Insurance, Quincy, Weymouth, MA

Renting out your Home? Find out what your mortgage company will need listed on your property’s insurance. - Quincy, Weymouth, MA (pls capitalize)

Mortgages require different insurance coverage for owners who rent their property. A typical homeowner policy (HO3 or HO5) policy is not designed for a home that is rented to others. Mortgage lenders mandate owners of investment property to procure landlord or dwelling and fire policy.

Landlord Coverage

Mortgage lenders want evidence that their borrower has enough coverage and show there is protection to the property owner for any loss of rent that was a result of a covered claim. The lender may want the borrower to have reasonable liability insurance coverage as well.

Personal Property Coverage

We strongly advised to require your tenant to obtain a renter (HO4) policy. This policy offers protection for the lessee's furniture, clothing, appliances, electronics and other personal property. This policy also has loss of use and liability coverage that can help the tenant out.

For more information on homeowners insurance or renter's insurance contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

What is Boat Insurance?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, May 06, 2019
Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MA

Boat insurance is an agreement between you and your insurance company that protects your watercraft and trailer, any damage you cause to others while boating, and other events. As with auto insurance, you’ll select and purchase “coverages,” which are things your insurer agrees to pay for.

How does boat insurance work?

Whether you buy watercraft insurance on your own, from an agent, or through a marine dealer, you’ll be asked some basic questions about you, your boat, and the coverages you’re looking for. All these factors will affect your price for insurance. Then, if you damage your boat or hit someone/something else, you’ll file a “claim” with your insurer. If it’s covered, they’ll pay for the losses or injuries up to your coverage limits.

Do you need boat insurance?

If you’re using your watercraft strictly for pleasure, only a few states mandate that you have boat insurance in certain circumstances. However, if you’re financing your boat, most lienholders will require you to carry insurance with comprehensive and collision coverage. In addition, if you plan to dock your boat, some marinas and harbors will require you to show proof of liability coverage. Regardless of the value of your boat, liability coverage is important and comes standard on watercraft insurance policies.

One of the biggest myths about boat insurance is that you and your boat will be adequately covered under home insurance. While your homeowners policy may offer minimal protection in some instances, it won’t offer the kind of coverage you need on the water—especially if you’ll be operating a large powerboat. Powerboats are typically more expensive and prone to accidents compared to small boats with smaller motors.

How to get boat insurance?

At Lallis & Higgins Insurance, you can buy watercraft insurance anytime and you can usually get coverage immediately. If necessary, we can provide you a verification of insurance form via fax or email. Prices can vary depending on how you buy. Contact us.

Easy to Forget Cleaning Projects

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 02, 2019
Lallis and Higgins Insurance -  Quincy, Weymouth, MA

As a busy homeowner, it is easy to fall into the trap of pushing off tasks that maintain the long-term value of your home in favor of more pressing problems. That’s OK, to a point, as certain house-cleaning projects should be in the “long-term maintenance” category. But putting them on hold for too long can have disastrous results. As with so many things in life, preventive maintenance can save a lot of future effort and cost in your home, too.

We’ve put together the following checklist of cleaning projects that can save you headaches – and money – down the line.

  1. Keep up with general cleaning: Giving the entire house a light cleaning every couple of weeks goes a long way toward preventing unwanted build-up. Dust and grime accumulate gradually and can permanently impact the sheen of hardwood and the sparkle of bathroom fixtures. Clutter and smaller messes also often disguise spills, leaks, and stains. Over time, these can set and become more difficult to remove.
  2. Replace air filters: If your heating or air-conditioning system relies on vents or an intake with an air filter, make sure you know the proper replacement schedule. Extending an air filter past its useful life not only lowers your air quality, it also can force your air conditioner or furnace to work harder, leading to more frequent breakdowns.
  3. Clean the dishwasher: The appliance we rely on so heavily to clean up after us needs to be cleaned itself every now and then! Its ability to operate effectively decreases between cleanings, and the longer you wait, the more likely it is to malfunction. A number of moving parts in dishwashers can easily get stuck when they are covered in food or soap residue, which can result in a less-than-appetizing smell that might even transfer to your dishes. For optimal results, periodically remove the filter system from the floor of your dishwasher and clean it off. Then run the dishwasher with white vinegar to remove build-up, stains, and odors.
  4. Make sure drains are clear: A visit from the plumber is guaranteed to be expensive, so we recommend doing everything you can to limit build-up in your drains and toilets. Avoid putting coffee grounds or grease down your sink drains, purchase a drain cover to catch hair in the shower and use a slightly less-luxurious toilet paper to avoid clogs. At the first sign of a clog, use baking soda, dish soap, or store-bought drain cleaner on trouble spots.
  5. Have your carpets cleaned: Heavily-trafficked areas should be professionally cleaned at least once or twice per year, depending on where you live and how conscientious you are about removing your shoes at the door. This will revitalize your carpets, and can prolong their lifespan, too. And whenever a spill occurs, react quickly! Just one noticeable stain can ruin a beautiful carpet. If you’re stumped, search online for a solution – there are an endless number of step-by-step guides to address every conceivable spill.
  6. Check for leaks: Water damage can be one of the most significant (and expensive) repairs a homeowner can face – and it’s tough to spot before it’s too late. Proactively checking areas around bathtubs and sinks will help along with keeping an eye on walls and ceilings for discolorations as well. If a ceiling becomes discolored, investigate what could be causing the stain before giving it a fresh coat of paint.

Think back to when you purchased your home. You probably visited an open house where the fixtures sparkled, the floors gleamed, and the paint looked fresh. Following the checklist above can help you get that new-home feel again, while maintaining your home’s value as well.

For more information, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Homeowners Insurance for Rental Properties

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 22, 2019

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAAlthough homeowner's insurance covers many of the basic problems that can arise through homeownership, it does not offer the extra liability coverage that is necessary to cover tenants and protect landlords in rental properties. Landlord insurance is designed to offer coverage that more closely fits the needs of a renting landlord. Because of the differences in coverage, the cost of landlord and homeowners insurance differs. You may be able to lower these through certain discounts or tax deductions.


Homeowners insurance for rental properties is actually known as landlord insurance. This type of coverage tends to be more expensive due to the increased risk non owner-occupied homes carry.

Rental Properties are Higher Risk

Generally, insurance providers see the insurance of a landlord’s property which he intends to rent as a higher risk because the policy holder does not intend to reside at the property. The fact that the owner will not be at the property daily presents a greater chance that the dwelling can be damaged or abused in some way – renters have less motivation to take good care of the property. Landlord insurance will cost more for both this higher risk and the increased liability protection that a landlord will need to purchase.

Covers Basic Damage

Most landlord insurance policies cover basic elemental damages, although flood policies and other natural disaster coverage, such as earthquake, must be purchased separately. If the landlord plans to furnish the apartment for tenants by providing appliances and dishes, this is also covered under the insurance but will add to the premium. You can purchased emergency assistance coverage, which helps pay for immediate maintenance needs, and theft, vandalism and liability coverage at an additional cost. These additions are specific to the location and fixtures of your rental property.

Landlord Policy Costs More

A landlord can expect to pay up to 20 percent more to purchase a basic landlord insurance policy versus a standard . However, if you can prove that your rental property will be occupied for a majority of the year, you may be able to negotiate a lower premium. Vacant rentals tend to add to the cost of insurance as there is more chance of damage when a home is unoccupied. Some insurance providers may see the constant habitation as a risk reduction on emergencies, such as a fire which could destroy the property if unnoticed.

Property Tax Deduction

As a landlord, you may be able to use the costs paid for your landlord insurance on a property as a deduction on your overall property taxes. If your insurance costs have been combined with your monthly mortgage payment, the bank should provide you with a Form 1098 which reports insurance costs, along with interest paid, which can be deducted. Owners of a condo property pay their structural insurance costs as part of their membership in the condo association, although the landlord is still responsible for insuring their personal fixtures and liabilities.

Rates Depend on Geography

The location of the rental property can also be leveraged to secure better terms on your landlord insurance. Some policies offer a 25 percent discount on landlord insurance premiums if a landlord can prove that the local fire department is located near a major water source, which could include smaller streams. A further 10 percent discount can be earned if your rental property resides in a gated community. Ask your policy provider about possible discount options that can be applied to your policy. Likewise, the state and neighborhood a home is located can also add to the cost of coverage. Rental property in areas with high theft or crime rates can also cost more.

For more information, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


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