Lallis and Higgins Blog

Understanding your Home's "Replacement Cost"

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 20, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAYour home's replacement cost is a major factor in making sure you are correctly insured.

Here's a statistic that may surprise you: more than half of homes in the US are underinsured. This may be because home insurance policies are often believed to provide coverage based on a home's market value, as opposed to its replacement cost. Understanding the difference between these two concepts is a key factor in making sure your coverage is up to the high standards of your home.

Replacement cost versus market value

When you think of what your home is worth, you tend to think of either what you paid for it, or the price you can sell it for on the open market. This may be affected by factors beyond the size and features of your home, such as its neighborhood, school system, market demand and other external considerations.

But insurance carriers are more concerned with the replacement cost of your home. This is essentially the amount it would take to rebuild your home from scratch in the event of a total loss. There are many factors that go into determining this figure, and as a result, a home's replacement cost often (and sometimes greatly) differs from its market value.

Here's an example (for illustration purposes only). Let's say you purchased your home for $225,000, and you opt to insure it for this amount. But then, unfortunately, a fire destroys your home completely, and the cost to rebuild it, factoring parts and labor, comes to $280,000. You would be underinsured for $55,000 – which means you may not have enough funds to rebuild your home the way it was.

Some factors that go into replacement cost

  • Roof and shingle style and quality, which can vary widely from home to home
  • Exterior features like porches, decks, and breezeways
  • The age and quality of your heating and cooling systems
  • The materials used in your kitchen and/or bath
  • The style of your garage, and whether it is attached
  • Present-day costs of building materials and labor
  • The costs of debris removal, which are not included in new home construction

Replacement costs can change during the life of your home. That's why it's important to make sure you have the coverage you truly need should you ever suffer a total loss. Contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance, your independent insurance agent, we have the tools and expertise that can help you determine the right replacement cost for your home.


Better Home Insurance in New Hampshire

Joseph Coupal - Friday, April 13, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAIf you own a home or are in the market to buy a home, you’ll be happy to know that Lallis & Higgins Insurance new services all of New Hampshire. Winner a Reader’s Choice Award in Massachusetts for the last three years we are happy to bring our knowledge, customer service, and menu of insurance providers to the New Hampshire area.

Lallis and Higgins Insurance can help you with all of your home, condo and renter insurance needs. In fact, because of our menu of providers, we can match you up with the best home insurance option for your situation. The insurance companies we represent allow us to help families from the Cape to Quincy shore, from Salem to Sudbury and now, from Nashua to New Hampton and beyond. We have the ability to get the best product at the best price for you and your family.

But, don’t just take our word for it, see what some of clients are saying:

"Couldn't be happier! I shopped around to multiple insurance agencies and by far found the best price. In addition to the best price, Anthony took the time to really look at each of my policies to make sure I was properly covered and suggested adjustments that made sense. I finally feel like I have the proper coverage and have someone who cares. Thanks again!"

"Derek was so easy to work with and really knows his stuff. He allowed me to get things done at my own pace and prepared everything for me and explained all the products and suggested what was best, all while saving us money. Very happy with my home policy and our new awesome agent."

"Derek Higgins is an amazing agent and was able to save me money and also increase my coverages to protect me against any future incidents. If you are using a national insurance company, you need to rethink your insurance and give Derek a call ASAP!"

"Hands down the best customer service! They make you feel as though you are part of the family. Always readily available to assist and accommodate your needs and requests. Very professional team!"

"By far the most helpful, kind, professional people on the planet. Plus I’ve saved more money than imaginable!"

Need home owner's insurance or want a review of your existing coverage? Contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


Insurance Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MANothing is as exciting or overwhelming as buying your first home. Which do you do you first: look for the perfect property or chase the right mortgage?

There’s so much to consider that many first-time buyers don’t think about home insurance — a factor that will be important when it comes to closing on their house.

You should factor the ongoing cost of home insurance into your home-buying budget, because it will probably show up in your monthly mortgage payment along with payments on your loan principal and interest and your property taxes. That means you should go into your search knowing the basics about insuring your house and what can drive up the cost of coverage.

Once you choose the house and make an offer, it will be time to find an insurer. There are a few things to take into consideration before settling on a provider — all policies are not the same. Using these tips can help you save money and ensure that you have quality coverage to protect your largest investment.

Credit

You know credit matters when it comes to getting a favorable interest rate on your mortgage. But did you know it also matters for home insurance? That’s because home insurance providers use your credit report as part of the formula for assessing the risk you pose as a policyholder. Their models show that consumers with good credit are much less likely to file claims.

Before you get too far into the buying process, assess your credit and take steps to improve your score. At the very least, make sure to correct any errors. Improving your credit score can result in big savings on your mortgage and your home insurance premiums.

Work with an Agent that has options

The price of home insurance varies widely from carrier to carrier. That’s because each provider has a different algorithm for determining customer premiums. This is one reason why it’s a good idea to use an insurance broker to comparison shop. You could end up saving yourself hundreds of dollars simply by getting a few different quotes.

Don’t skimp on coverage

While you want to save money on home insurance, it’s important not to skimp on coverage. Standard home insurance policies typically offer protection from a variety of potential risks, ranging from liability to damage from weather-related perils. However, you may want to adjust or add coverage depending on your needs.

In particular, pay close attention to is your amount of dwelling coverage — the part of your policy that protects the structure of your home. You should have enough dwelling coverage to rebuild completely in case the house is destroyed by a covered peril. That amount, however, is often different from the purchase price. An online dwelling coverage calculator can help you estimate the amount of dwelling coverage that’s right for you.

Bundle your policies

Buying home and auto insurance from the same provider can save you as much as 20% on your annual premium. Do you have multiple vehicles? Or even a boat? Talk to an insurance agent about bundling all of these items with one carrier.

Evaluate risks as you look

When you’re evaluating potential homes, consider the risk each proposes. Is the house in a high-risk flood plain? Standard home insurance doesn’t cover flooding. For this protection, homeowners must purchase a separate policy. Just a few inches of flood water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Does one of the homes you’re considering have a swimming pool or trampoline on the property? Either factor can increase the amount you’ll pay for home insurance.

Remember, take your time, ask plenty of questions and keep your eyes open for potential problems, and you’ll be well on the way to finding the perfect first home.

For more information contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

Zillow


Spring Home Maintenance Tips That Also Protect Your Home

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAThe milder days of spring are a perfect time to do a thorough spring cleaning and perform home maintenance. After a long winter, it is a good idea to spend time on preventive measures to help maintain your home and property throughout the year. Tasks such as cleaning out your gutters, checking for dead trees and branches and cleaning and inspecting home mechanical systems, such as heating and air conditioning equipment, can make spring a season of safety.

Cleaning and maintenance of your home should be done inside and out. Although the tasks are different, ensuring all the elements of your home are in good working order can help keep your family safe and your maintenance expenses lower over the long run.

Inside Your Home

Here are a few things inside your home that should be inspected to ensure they are in good condition:

Electrical Outlets and Cords: Check electrical outlets and cords throughout your home for any potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Outlets, fuse boxes and extension cords also should be checked to make sure they are not overloaded.

Fire Extinguishers: Check your fire extinguisher at least once yearly, including the hose, nozzle and other parts, to make sure they are in good condition and that the pressure gauge is in the “green” range. If necessary, move your fire extinguisher to an accessible place.

Air Conditioning: Before turning it on for the season, have your air-conditioning system inspected and tuned up by a professional.

Water Heater: Check for leaks and corrosion.

Furnace: Clean or replace your furnace filter.

Dryers: Dryer lint can build up inside the vent pipe and collect around the duct. Clean both the clothes dryer exhaust duct and the space under the dryer. Use a specialized brush to clean out the vent pipe. Lint can also build up inside the dryer enclosure and should be cleaned and serviced by a professional.

Smoke Detectors: Daylight savings time is the perfect time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Inspect each smoke detector to ensure all are in working order, and make sure to test them monthly. Ideally, there should be at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home, including the hallway or area outside of each set of bedrooms, and one within each bedroom itself. If necessary, install additional smoke detectors as needed.

Light Bulbs: Check each light bulb in every fixture for the correct recommended wattage and replace any burned out bulbs. Also, consider replacing all high-intensity bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs to reduce energy and the amount of heat produced.

Outside Your Home

The cold winter months can do damage to your house as well. Here are a few things outside your home that should be inspected to ensure they are in good condition:

Roof: Check for any damage from snow or ice, including damage from ice dams, and make any necessary repairs to reduce the possibility of leaks.

Gutters: Clean leaves and other debris from gutters and downspouts to keep water flowing and reduce the possibility of water damage.

Trees: Visually inspect trees for damage or rot, and remove (either yourself or through a contractor) any dead trees that might blow over in heavy winds or during a storm. Keep healthy trees and bushes trimmed and away from utility wires.

Lawn Equipment: Make sure lawn mowers, tractors and other equipment are tuned up before using. Store oil and gas for lawn equipment and tools in a vented, locked area.

Walkways and Driveways: Repair any cracks and broken or uneven surfaces to provide a safe, level walking area.

A little home maintenance in the spring can go a long way to keeping your home safe and secure throughout the rest of the year.

For more information or tips on protecting your home, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance in Weymouth, MA.

Travelers


Two Important Service Announcements from the Mass RMV

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 19, 2018

New Massachusetts Requirements for driver's license, ID card, or learner's permit

On March 26, 2018, to get or renew any driver's license, ID card, or learner's permit, you need documentation showing U.S. citizenship or lawful presence as required by federal and state law.

Lawful presence

Lawful presence means that a person is legally living in the United States according to federal immigration laws. All U.S. citizens and lawfully permanent residents have permanent lawful presence in the U.S. Non-U.S. citizens who are studying, working, or living temporarily in the U.S. may have temporary lawful presence that may vary in length.

For U.S. citizens, a valid, unexpired U.S. passport is sufficient proof of lawful presence. U.S. citizens may also provide a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate.

For permanent residents, a valid permanent resident card (green card) is sufficient proof of lawful presence.

For customers who are not U.S. citizens, you need to provide valid, verifiable immigration documents as well as proof that you have been granted a legal stay in the U.S. for at least 12 months. Your license or ID will expire when your legal stay is over.

Required documents

Review the document checklist below for the types of documents you will need when getting or renewing your driver’s license, learner's permit, or ID card.

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MA

Additional Resources: https://www.mass.gov/guides/new-massachusetts-requirements

ALERT: No RMV Services

No RMV services from Thurs. 3/22 @ 7 p.m. - Mon. 3/26 @ 8 a.m., non-public safety services are unavailable and the RMV will NOT process transactions.

The RMV is transforming its business processes and replacing its technology to deliver exceptional customer service for residents and businesses across the Commonwealth.

ATLAS, the RMV’s new computer system, will provide customers with an easier, quicker, and more convenient customer experience whether they engage with the RMV in person, on the web, by mail, or by phone.

The following will be affected by this shutdown:

  • All RMV Service Centers
    • Will be CLOSED on Friday, March 23
    • Resumes on Monday, March 26
  • All AAA offices that offer RMV services
    • Will NOT OFFER SERVICES on Friday, March 23 or Saturday, March 24
    • Resumes on Monday, March 26
  • ONLINE Services
    • There will be NO ONLINE TRANSACTIONS beginning at 7:00pm on Thursday, March 22
    • Resumes on Monday, March 26 at 8:00 am
  • All inspections stations that conduct vehicle inspections
    • There will be NO INSPECTIONS conducted on Friday, March 23, Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25
    • Resumes on Monday, March 26 at 8:00 am
  • All dealerships that register and inspect vehicles on behalf of the RMV
    • There will be NO REGISTRATIONS processed and NO INSPECTIONS conducted at dealerships across Massachusetts on Friday, March 23, Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25
    • Resumes on Monday, March 26 at 8:00 am

We are working around the clock to make sure that the transition to our new operating system; ATLAS, is as smooth and seamless as possible for all RMV customers and partners and appreciate your patience as we upgrade our technology.

For more information click Mass RMV.


Two Insurance Takeaways from the Recent Nor’Easters in Massachusetts:

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAMarch in 2018 has brought many obstacles to our Massachusetts clients and neighbors. Two of the biggest questions clients have had is if their homeowner policy provides damages from a flood, and how will my claim impact the price of my homeowner insurance going forward.

Unfortunately flood damage is not covered by your Homeowner Insurance policy. Flood damage is offered through a separate policy called a Flood Insurance Policy. If your home is not in a high-to-moderate flood zone called a X-Zone. The premium for a X-Zone flood policy will be on average between $400 and $600 a year (depending on the size of your home, and contents you would like to cover on the policy).

Many of our carriers do offer an additional coverage called water backup/sub-pump overflow that would help with costs to damages caused by a sub-pump overflowing, or failing due to loss of electricity. There is a cap to this coverage which varies per carriers that offer this additional coverage.

Lallis & Higgins Insurance had many clients call to see if their claims from the Nor’Easters will affect their homeowner insurance price at renewal. Damages caused by major storms that cause wide spread damage to a community tend to be classified as Catastrophic (Cat) claims, and are looked at by insurance carriers differently than if you filed a claim that was not caused a Catastrophic storm; often times there will be little to no penalty to your homeowner policy due to Cat claims.

Contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance for more information on your homeowner policy, or if you would like one of our representatives to review your current policy that is insured with another agency or insurance company.


Is Your Home in a Flood Zone?

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 05, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAAre you buying a house? Do you already own a home? Do you know if it is in a flood zone?

Click this link to see for more information on where you home sits, how high the water table is in your area, or if the home your are buying is in a flood zone. Your home may be above the water table, but the water table is rising. If your home is right outside the flood zone, you can buy inexpensive flood insurance now. If the water table rises putting your home into a flood zone you can still keep that low premium forever. Even better, when you sell your home, you can sign that flood insurance policy over to the new homeowner when you sell, making your home even more desirable and attractive to prospects in this tough housing market.

For more information on flood insurance or for a review of your flood insurance policy, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


Business Insurance Brokers Can Benefit Your Business

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAThere are many benefits for companies who are working with commercial insurance brokers. This has made insurance brokers increasingly more important today.

Depending on your business, your budget and your potential exposure, there are different types of insurance packages, policies and solutions. It is important to customize your business insurance policy to suit your specific business and industry.

In addition to protecting your investment, the right insurance will help to manage expenses for an injured employee, property damage or any other issue that may involve insurance coverage.

Insurance brokers will provide the service, knowledge, quality products, claims help and advice that large insurance companies or online insurance companies cannot. Insurance brokers will also compare insurance quotes and policies in order to provide your company with the best coverage for the price.

Business insurance brokers compare coverage and tailor policies to suit individual business needs. They can offer industry specific products and they have an advantage in pricing and product lines over a price comparison online site or a large insurance policy.

Next time you need to buy or renew your business insurance policy, consider a commercial insurance broker and contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.


What Type of Insurance Do I Need to Protect My Home?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MAAlthough your insurer or agent can provide some assistance, it is ultimately your responsibility to choose the right level of coverage. You may need to periodically have your policy reviewed your coverage limits to see if they are adequate.

You should consider a “dwelling” limit that is high enough to help you rebuild your home at today’s labor and material costs in the event of a total loss. This cost may be very different from the market value of your home. When considering your home or real property, you should consider not only your house, but also unattached garages, sheds or other structures that may be on your property.

You should also consider (1) the level of coverage needed to replace your “personal property” or the “contents” of your home, such as furniture, clothing, electronics, jewelry or other personal items that may be damaged in the event of loss to your home and (2) sufficient liability coverage to protect you and your assets from lawsuits if others claim damages due to your negligence either on or off your property.

In addition to choosing the type and overall limits to your coverage, you will also choose the deductible level up to which you will be responsible for paying the costs of each claim. The higher the deductible chosen – and greater proportion of low-dollar claims that are your and not the insurer’s responsibility – the lower the premium that you will have to pay. Almost all policies are issued with fixed dollar deductibles, but some have percentage deductibles that are based on overall policy limits.

Basic Coverages Available

There are differing packages of insurance that may be offered to protect your home and belongings. Most single-family homes are covered under what is called homeowners insurance; other policies are more appropriate for renters or those owning condominiums. You should consult your insurance producer for the type of policy that is right for your home.

It is important to know which risks a policy covers and which risks are excluded. Each policy protects against a specific number of perils (events that cause damage to property), including, for example, fire, windstorm, and theft. Policies may specifically exclude coverage for certain events, including for example floods, earthquakes, or damages related to poorly maintained properties.

In addition to knowing the risks or perils covered, it is important to consider the expenses that are covered in the event of a covered peril. Each policy usually contains coverage for the following:

  1. damage to your real property, including your home and other structures on your property,
  2. damage to your personal property,
  3. the additional cost of alternate living arrangements,
  4. personal liability lawsuits, and
  5. medical payments, limited for non-residents, for certain accidents occurring on your property.

For more information on home insurance coverage, or for a review of your policy, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

mass.gov


Getting Homeowners Insurance When Buying a Home

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 16, 2018

Lallis and Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, MABefore your lender will agree to let you borrow money to buy your home, you must agree to insure the home. And you must have this insurance lined up before you can close the deal.

Having homeowners insurance (also known as hazard insurance) is a requirement before a bank or mortgage company will allow you to obtain a mortgage or complete a home sale. This insurance is also designed to protect the homeowner from being forced to go into debt when an emergency occurs. The coverage puts a homeowner in the financial position to repair or rebuild the house.

Types of Homeowners Insurance

There are two types of homeowners insurance: cash-value coverage and replacement-cost coverage.

Cash-Value Coverage

Cash-value coverage will pay you back for the depreciated value of your home and your personal property should they be destroyed. While is it usually cheaper than replacement-cost coverage, it will likely not allow you to rebuild your home if disaster strikes. Mortgage companies also tend to require a replacement cost policy.

Replacement-Cost Coverage

Experts recommend a replacement-cost policy that insures your home for the total cost to rebuild it, regardless of its market value — which includes other factors such as your neighborhood, local school district, the land, the type of construction, current condition and home features.

By using your appraisal and comparing it to your insurance agent’s worksheet, you can estimate the replacement cost of your home and buy a policy that will guarantee that amount.

Policies differ in coverage and costs. It is imperative that you work with an independent agent like Lallis and Higgins Insurance to find the policy that fits your needs. In addition, you need to understand any exclusions or limitations within the policy you choose.

You may need to purchase extra coverage depending upon several factors:

  • What perils are more likely in your area that you want to be protected against (flood and earthquake insurance, for instance, may need to be bought separately).
  • The replacement value of your possessions (fine art or expensive jewelry might require higher premiums).
  • Special insurance needs.

All homeowners insurance policies come with a deductible. This is the amount you will pay every time you file a claim with the insurance company. A higher deductible comes with a lower premium, and vice versa.

Other tips about insuring your house:

  • Check out a prospective insurance company’s financial strength.
  • Compare rates and coverage.
  • Choose a higher deductible in order to lower your premiums.
  • Decrease your risk to insurers by installing things like a security system, deadbolt locks and smoke detectors in your home. Keeping your credit score high also makes you a better risk with many insurance carriers.

For more information on homeowners insurance when buying or selling a home, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

debt.org



Get an insurance quote &
see how much you can save.