Lallis and Higgins Blog

Buying a Vacation Home? Homeowners Insurance Does Not Cover Flooding

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 30, 2018
Lallis and Higgins - Insurance

In the wake of summer storms, many homeowners are surprised to learn that their homeowners insurance policies does not cover damage caused by flooding. It should be one of the big lessons: Know what your insurance policy covers – and what it does not.

Looking forward, do you need flood insurance? According to FloodSmart.gov, nearly 25% of flood insurance claims come from moderate-to-low risk areas. It doesn’t take a major body of water or a significant storm to cause flooding. A flood can occur as a result of a slow-moving rainstorm, snow melt, land development runoff, and more.

A common argument against flood insurance is that federal disaster assistance will be available when flooding occurs. This is not always the case, and when it is, federal disaster assistance may still cost more than flood insurance. Federal disaster assistance is only offered when a disaster is federally declared, and it usually comes in the form of a loan with interest.

If you’re interested in protecting your home with flood insurance, call you local agent at Lallis & Higgins Insurance who can help you purchase a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. We can help you fully understand your coverage options and can continue to advise you as your needs change.

The best time to buy flood insurance is now. Policies do not take effect until 30 days after purchase. 

 Source: Plymouth Rock


Vacation Home Insurance Questions to Ask

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 23, 2018
Lallis and Higgins - Vacation Home Insurance, Weymouth, Quincy, MA

Summer is the season people travel to second homes by the lake or seaside. If you've purchased such a getaway, make sure it's properly insured.

The cost of vacation home insurance should be factored into the second home-buying equation.

These attractive properties are also attracting risks.

Such risks include natural disasters and dangers posed by vandals and thieves. Those types of risk drive up the cost of insurance.

Here are six questions to ask when insuring your vacation home:

Question 1: Does my insurer offer a secondary home endorsement?

Most people automatically assume they need to buy a stand-alone home insurance policy to cover their vacation home.

But some insurers will let you add an endorsement to your primary home's policy that covers the vacation home.

This is often the most cost-effective way to go.

Although you likely will save money with an endorsement, the coverage level might not be as extensive as with a separate insurance policy. That is particularly true if the home is at greater risk of falling prey to natural disasters such as hurricanes, brush fires or flooding.

Because the cost and coverage levels of endorsements vary from company to company, it is important to talk to your agent and discuss your options.

Question 2: Do I need to increase liability coverage?

People with vacation homes frequently invite guests for weekends of fun.

Unfortunately, such activities raise the risk someone will be injured on the property, leaving you liable for the loss.

In addition, vacation homes often are vacant for longer periods of time than primary homes. That also increases your liability risk.

If someone breaks in or doesn't have permission to be on your property, that limits your personal liability. But you could always be sued anyway.

Purchasing an umbrella liability policy can boost the liability coverage on your vacation home. These policies typically cost just a few hundred dollars a year, and they can boost your liability protection by $1 million or more.

Question 3: Should I buy coverage for sewer and drain backups?

Many home insurance policies don't automatically cover damage caused by drain and sewer backups.

This type of damage can be a major problem in any type of home, but the risks may be greater in a vacation home.

The amount of damage that can occur when it goes unchecked will likely be much more extensive.

It's easy to insure against this risk. An insurance rider with this type of protection typically costs around $50 a year.

This coverage is just the first step. Have someone look after the vacation home while you are away, and to perform maintenance such as removing snow and checking the thermostat.

Question 4: Are my 'out buildings' protected?

Summer homes often have additional features -- including boat houses and sheds -- that aren't attached to the home. In most cases, these structures will be covered under the policy that protects the main building.

However, in most cases there is a limit to the coverage amount for these buildings.

Coverage would be limited to 10 percent of the vacation home policy. So, if your home was insured for $100,000, you would have $10,000 in coverage for such buildings.

Of course, the exact percentage can vary from insurer to insurer. If you need more coverage, talk to your agent about purchasing a rider that will provide higher levels of protection for the individual buildings.

Question 5: Is my boat covered?

Home insurance may offer some coverage for small boats, but only for a limited amount.

Coverage varies, with some insurers covering boats for about $1,000, while others offer coverage of around 10 percent of your home's property value. Liability coverage usually isn't included, but can be added through an endorsement to your homeowners policy.

However, don't count on a homeowners policy to cover losses to your yacht.

With bigger and more expensive boats, it's recommended that people consider a separate boat policy to ensure adequate coverage for both damage and liability.

You also will likely need a separate policy to cover Jet Skis and wave runners.

Policies that specifically cover boats and other watercraft come in two types:

  • Actual cash value. This pays your replacement costs after subtracting any depreciation. 
  • Agreed amount value. With this policy, you and the insurer agree upon an amount that represents the boat's true worth. If the boat is totaled, you will be paid in this amount. If a partial loss occurs, you will receive new parts to replace the damaged parts. 

Actual cash value coverage tends to be cheaper that agreed amount value coverage because the former only pays you the depreciated rate of your loss. So, while you may pay less in premiums, you could end up paying more out of pocket to cover a loss.

Question 6: Do the insurance requirements differ at the location of the vacation home?

Many people own vacation homes located far from their primary residence, often in another state. Because insurance is regulated at the state level, it's important to know which rules apply in your vacation home's community.

If you have a primary home in Massachusetts and buy a second home in New Hampshire, you should know that the vacation home insurance policy has a separate water damagae deductible.

In some cases, the insurer of your primary home may refuse to insure the vacation home if it is located in an area at a higher risk for loss due to flooding or other circumstances.

Talk to Lallis & Higgins Insurance before you buy a prospective vacation home to find out if coverage will be available.


Do You Need A Homeowners Insurance Checkup?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 16, 2018
Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MA

Summer is in full-swing. This is a great time of year for a homeowners insurance checkup based on recent changes in your life and home. Here are some questions to consider asking yourself or discussing with your agent to determine if it’s time to update your home insurance.

  • Have you made any home improvements? Is a hot tub or swimming pool in your near future? How about expanding your deck or maybe enclosing the porch? These improvements increase the value of your home, so make sure they are protected by your coverage.
  • Have you installed a fire or burglar alarm system? If so, you may qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance.
  • Did you purchase a riding mower or tiller? Do you plan to build or buy a shed to store your garden tools? Your policy should cover these structures but reach out to your insurer to make sure.
  • Did you make any big purchases for the holidays or the New Year? Think about your furniture, appliances, electronics, jewelry, and art work. It’s important to have a list of your possessions so you know the level of coverage you need. Keep receipts and other important items that verify the cost of possessions, and store the list in a secure place like a safe deposit box. You may need to separate schedule this items if their value exceeds your current coverage.
  • Did you make any major changes to your life? Marriage, divorce, or adult children who move back into the family home may mean your coverage needs to be modified.
  • Have you started a home-based business? This could also necessitate changes to your insurance policy. You may need additional coverage for business liability and equipment.

Asking yourself these questions is a great start to making sure your homeowners coverage matches both your home and the folks that live in it. Have any more questions or need advice? Don’t hesitate to ask, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

Source: Plymouth Rock


Fool Beach Thieves with these Hiding Techniques

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 09, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAYou’re at the beach and it’s a scorcher. That water is looking pretty tempting cool down. But, how do you hide your stuff at the beach so it doesn’t get stolen?

You’re almost always going to have some kind of valuable with you: keys, credit card, cash, smartphone, e-reader, tablet, etc.

You could nominate someone to stay out of the water to stand guard. But that isn’t always an option, especially if you’re out alone or in a small group.

Buy a house with a private beach? That’s not really affordable or practical.

The first thing you need to do is decide if you really need all or any of that stuff with you. You may be able to pare it down to the essentials and leave super important stuff in your car or hotel room.

If you do leave any valuables in your car, make sure your stuff is hidden out of sight and your car is locked! And don’t try to hide a key on top of your tire.

That said, here are some ways to hide your stuff at the beach to help prevent it from being stolen.

Know that none of these ideas are 100% foolproof. Nothing is ever 100% safe, not even if you stay at home. These ideas could help prevent a theft, but cannot guarantee security.

The More Common Methods

  • Make friends with the people sitting near you – it will make it that much more likely they’ll speak up if some random person is rummaging through your stuff.
  • Put your things in a sealable plastic bag and bury the bag in the sand, underneath your towel. Lots of folks also say it’s a good idea to safety pin a string to the bag and your towel so you don’t forget it’s down there.
  • Get a beach safe. It doesn’t take too much effort to find beach safes for sale. They lock right to your chair, cooler or other heavy/immovable objects.
  • Use a waterproof container. There are lots of these for sale, too. The idea is you wear your stuff into the water. Watch out for leaks, though.

The More Clever Ways to Hide Your Stuff at the Beach

  • Book work. Bring a hollowed out book with you. It’s unsuspecting and easily concealed.
  • Make it look gross. Wrap your belongings in a disposal diaper ( … an unused one). You would ideally crumple it up to make it look like it has been used, though.
  • Attract LOTS of attention. Decorate your beach bag with loud, bright, gaudy colors and designs. The idea is that it attracts so much attention, thieves will move on to a more subtle target.
  • Hide it in a ball. You may have heard the tip about cutting a tennis ball open. That’s great, but that’s not nearly big enough for a couple of credit cards, keys, cash, earbuds and a smartphone. A soccer ball? Now we’re talking. Make sure the sliced side is down and leave it in a beach bag or on your chair under a towel.
  • Fly it. Securely attach a small rip-stop zipper bag to a kite and fly it up in the air. Then secure the string spool to a picnic table or other heavy object. It will most definitely be out of reach of thieves. But … use this one at your own risk as your stuff could just fly away.
  • Get a container that looks like something else. You can easily find containers for sale that look like sunscreen bottles or soda cans. You could also just clean out an old sunscreen bottle yourself. Also, don’t forget to bring an actual bottle of sunscreen to help prevent sunburn.

Again, none of these ideas guarantee 100% security. If your stuff does get stolen at the beach, or even stolen from your car parked in the beach lot, your home insurance policy (not your car insurance) may be able to help with the loss. Check with Lallis & Higgins Insurance about the specifics of your policy.

Plymouth Rock


Where to Celebrate Independence Day Around Boston and the South Shore

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 02, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAIt's almost Fourth of July and that means fireworks. But where can you go watch and when are they, anyway?

Quincy:

Bay Pointe Waterfront Restaurant is celebrating their 20th year of operation by shooting fireworks from a barge in Town River Bay beginning at 9:15 p.m. on July 4.

Weymouth:

Technically, you can see 4th of July fireworks and not leave Quincy. The Weymouth fireworks on July 3 can be seen over the Fore River and starts at 9:30 p.m. You can also go to George Lane Beach in North Weymouth for music, events for the kids, and concessions.

Braintree:

Braintree Day on June 30 ends with fireworks at Braintree High School. The sky lights up at dusk.

Hingham:

The night of July 1 at Hingham Harbor includes family activities, music, food and of course, a fireworks display.

Boston:

The annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular along the Charles River is the main event, drawing in outstanding crowds for a night of patriotism, pyrotechnics, and musical performances. To get ready for the celebrations, we’ve rounded up the top ways to catch this monumental fireworks display. If the thought of going up against an expected crowd of 300,000 spectators for your spot on the grass doesn’t excite you, we’ve included a few backup plans with stellar views.

THE ESPLANADE DOWNTOWN

At the center of all of the action, the Charles River Esplanade hosts the extravagant Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which also happens to be one of the city’s biggest outdoor gatherings of the year. The free event kicks off at 8pm with performances at The Hatch Shell by headliner and “Fight Song” singer Rachel Platten and, of course, the Boston Pops Orchestra. From 10:30pm-11pm, over 10,000 fireworks are set to go off. Just make sure you take precautions so you and your family or friends won’t have an awkward train ride back because someone didn’t take the lead on planning accordingly; glass, cans, alcohol (gasp!), and even backpacks are not allowed.

PROSPECT HILL PARK SOMERVILLE

For Somerville residents looking to stay close by, look no further! Your best bet is to head over to Prospect Hill Park to catch a glimpse of the Boston Pops starting at 10:30pm while amongst your cool neighbors. Who said you had to venture into the city to be part of the excitement? And again, this view is free.

THE ROSE KENNEDY GREENWAY DOWNTOWN

Skeptical of rogue fireworks and potentially bad memories? Feel free to head to The Greenway at 8pm to view the action from afar. The Greenway will stream the Boston Pops concert at The Hatch Shell followed by the much anticipated pyro show. If you feel like staying in, you can watch the fireworks from the comfort of your apartment by tuning into Bloomberg TV or Boston’s WHDH-TV beginning at 8pm.

WOLLASTON BEACH QUINCY

Trying to scope out the best views on the water to watch the show? Wollaston Beach in Quincy is a few miles away from the Boston Pops display at 8pm, but it's still a spot worth checking out for a far-off view of the action. And it's hard to beat the feeling of sand between your toes and the ocean breeze.

TOP OF THE HUB BACK BAY

If you’re looking to upgrade your viewing experience, you can fork over some dollars for the Sky High Fourth of July Celebration at Top of the Hub. At $250 per ticket, the night begins with a five-course gourmet dinner starting at 6pm, continues with a one-hour open bar, and concludes with a prime view of the Boston Pops fireworks display. If the ticket price is a tad too aggressive, the Skywalk Observatory will be offering limited seating for views of the fireworks featuring a dessert buffet. Doors open at 8:15pm with tickets priced at $80 per person.

LARZ ANDERSON PARK BROOKLINE

If you’re looking for a popular but less congested setting, Larz Anderson Park in Brookline provides beautiful scenery and space to sprawl out before the Boston Pops show goes off at 10:30pm. The park has charcoal grills and picnic areas perfect for bigger groups looking to spend a full day outdoors. It's also totally free, of course.

CASTLE ISLAND SOUTH BOSTON

With Castle Island overlooking the Boston Harbor, you’ll catch sights not only from the Boston Pops fireworks, but also from nearby town Winthrop. Didn’t gauge the arrival time quite right? No worries. Winthrop’s fireworks display begins at 9:15pm so you won’t be waiting with crippling anticipation for long.

ALBEMARLE FIELD/HALLORAN SPORTS COMPLEX NEWTON

For the early birds in the group or for your friends that vowed to take it easy for the night, Albemarle Field/Halloran Sports Complex in Newton is the go-to. Fireworks start at 9pm with activities leading up to the display including amusement rides, face painting (for friends with kids or the young at heart), craft and food vendors, and more. Admission is free, so if you want the carnival-esque treats with the show, head here

FROM THE CHARLES RIVER ALLSTON/BRIGHTON & CAMBRIDGE

Instead of sitting idly as you watch, how about paddling down the river surrounded by reflections of the fireworks? Plus, there’s no need to bring blankets or compete for a space to sit -- even better. Paddle Boston offers rental options the night of the Fourth with options to canoe or kayak. The deposit comes at a pretty penny, but depending on where you dock, rentals range between $89-$114 for a standard canoe (which fits two to three adults).

source: thrillist.com/patch.com



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