Lallis and Higgins Blog

Students Should Protect Their Assets with Renters Insurance

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lallis & Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, Quincy, MAAll college student renters should purchase renter’s insurance. If you have lived away from home and have never gotten yourself insurance before, this article may convince you otherwise.

Protecting your valuables and assets by purchasing renter's insurance could be a worthwhile investment and a way to minimize your risk financially.

Even students living in apartment and dorms who have not amassed a large amount of furniture or expensive belongings should ensure they are protected against theft, accidents or other liabilities.

If the list of your current inventory of valuables is short and mostly limited to electronics such as your laptop, smart phone and TV or clothing, renter's insurance will protect you from any losses.

Purchasing renter's insurance protects your belongings, because your landlord's insurance only covers the structure and liability exposure.

Not purchasing renter's insurance can you leave you exposed to a potential financial loss or setback.

Renter's insurance covers the tenant's personal belongings and provides personal liability protection in case a guest is injured while in the home or property is damaged outside the home.

Some companies offer policies which includes coverage for things such as debris removal, reasonable repairs, fire department surcharge and broken glass. Only 34% of Americans who rent have renter's insurance, according to a March survey released by InsuranceQuotes.com.

Renter's insurance is often overlooked by younger and older people. It's unfortunate, because it's a really inexpensive financial safety net. You need to be prepared for a worse case scenario.

Some policies even provide coverage for when you are traveling and your laptop or other items are stolen. Or it can protect your valuables that are housed in a storage unit.

But What's The Price?

Paying for renter's insurance is fairly inexpensive, and the average monthly cost is under $12 a month.

Making a list of your belongings will help you determine how much it will cost to replace them in case of an emergency, theft or accident. If you have valuable jewelry or family heirlooms, you may need to buy special riders that are separate from the policy.

Renter's insurance will protect you against water damage such as a dishwasher leak from an apartment above yours, vandalism or from power surges or earthquakes, depending on your state and coverage.

When you are comparing quotes, ask the provider about what the policy does not cover, if claims settled on actual cash value or replacement cost and the amount of the deductible.

Some property owners now require their tenants to purchase rental insurance before they can rent an apartment, condo or home. Renters should consider this when they are budgeting for housing expenses.

Sometimes it is unclear who is responsible for damaged personal property such as a leak.

Having renter's insurance is especially important if you have roommates. Making sure all your roommates have their own individual policy is the safest way to make sure everyone is covered correctly.

Renter's insurance will cover alternative housing such as living in a hotel and paying for meals if your apartment is damaged by a fire and you are forced to move out while repairs are being made.

Another benefit to purchasing renter's insurance is that many companies will discount your auto insurance policy if you also purchase renter's coverage. For more information on renters insurance, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

Mainstreet.com


Homeowners’ Insurance: Answers To Common Questions

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 19, 2017

Lallis & Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, Quincy, MABecoming a first-time homebuyer can be both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. There are a lot of expenses you’ve probably heard about that come with closing on your first home, for instance the down payment, closing costs and agent fees. One expense you may be less familiar with is homeowners’ insurance. Don’t get blindsided by the cost insurance might add to your financial responsibilities – take time to understand your options and get estimates before putting down a large sum on your home.

We’ve assembled a number of most commonly asked questions that first-time homebuyers ask to help give you a better sense of what you need to know when shopping for homeowners’ insurance.

How Much Coverage Do I Need? A Home Inventory Will Tell You.

Start by completing a home inventory (a comprehensive list of everything you own and each item’s value). Make a list or your possessions, describing each item, and noting the make and model and where each item was purchased. Include sales receipts, purchase contracts and appraisals if you have them. Organize your clothing into categories so they are easier to reference.

Here are some handy tips to help you organize your inventory:

  • List big-ticket items such as jewelry, artwork and collectibles
  • Take pictures of important individual items and store with descriptions
  • Save your inventory list on your computer and store it on an external hard drive or disk (you can also send it to a trusted family member for safe-keeping as well)
  • Put all the photos, lists and any other documentation (electronic or paper) in a safe deposit box

What Coverages Are Included?

Standard homeowners’ insurance policies include coverage of:

  • The structure of the home – if your home is damaged or destroyed by a covered peril (fire, windstorms, hail, lightning, theft, vandalism, explosion, water damage and riots)
  • Your home’s contents – if your belongings are damaged or destroyed, it’s typically set between 50 and 70% of your home’s structural coverage (each carrier has its own set of amount covered); high-value items have a cap on repair/replacement value so you should go over these details with your agent.
  • Liability – if someone is injured on your property, the liability portion of your insurance policy can help pay for medical, rehab, funeral expenses and legal fees in the event of a lawsuit
  • Other structures – if your detached garage or toolshed is damaged or destroyed by a covered peril (see structure of the home for covered perils), your insurance can help pay to have it repaired or rebuilt
  • Additional living expenses – in the event that you home is destroyed and needs to be rebuilt, this coverage can help pay for living expenses (hotel and food bills) while you’re displaced

Why Won’t Your Insurance Costs Be The Same As The Current Owner’s?

Many first-time homebuyers assume that they will be paying the same for insurance as the previous owner. In fact, many ask the previous homeowners how much they paid for electricity, school and property taxes, along with the insurance cost when deciding on whether or not to buy the home.

What a previous owner paid in insurance is not always a good indicator of what you’ll pay. There are some predictable and consistent factors, such as if the home is in a flood area, or in an area with many windstorms, hail or tornado claims. But, insurance companies like lenders, take into account your personal information to establish the cost; your age, credit rating, profession and other personal choices are used to determine what kind of insurance they choose and how much you’ll pay.

What Factors Can Affect How Much I Pay For Homeowners Insurance?

The following variables can impact the cost of your homeowners’ insurance premium:

  • Home features and characteristics – your home’s age, type of structure, wiring, roof, garage and more can affect your homeowners’ insurance premium. Older homes tend to cost more to insure, and those costs can depend on whether your home is brick, frame, stone or has synthetic siding.
  • Location – where your home is located can impact your premium. Proximity to the ocean, exposure to extreme weather (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods) or high-theft neighborhoods can all be factored in.
  • Protective devices – burglar alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and deadbolt locks can lower your insurance premium.
  • Personal factors – believe it or not, being a smoker may cause you to pay more for your home insurance than a nonsmoker; in their eyes there’s a greater chance for an accidental fire. A good credit history can also lower your insurance.
  • Claims history – if you have a history of claims, you’ll pay more and if you made a claim under a previous insurance policy, like a renter’s policy, you’re not eligible for a claims-free discount.
  • Previous insurance history – factors like if you’ve never had previous insurance on a residence, have a gap in your insurance history, or if you’ve been previously cancelled by an insurance company for non-payment can impact coverage and cost.

How Can I Save Money On Insurance?

It is possible to cut the costs by making certain adjustments. Some of these are immediate solutions and some require a longer term modification.

  • Discounts – Most insurers offer a laundry list of discounts for policyholders. One of the most common is bundling; by bundling your home and auto insurance with the same provide or agent, you’ll be entitled to a discount. As mentioned earlier, safety/protective devices can also reduce your premiums.
  • Raise Your Deductible – Raising the amount you agree to pay toward a claim before the insurance kicks will lower your premiums. However, setting it too high can come to bite you in the end if disaster strikes.

How Do I Pay For My Homeowners’ Insurance?

There are two ways to pay your annual homeowners’ insurance premium. You can pay it once annually to your insurer, or elect to pay it as part of your mortgage (escrowing), one month-at-a-time.

How Do I Choose A Provider?

The best advice we can give is to shop around for the rates and programs which best meet your needs. Like mortgage rates, homeowners’ insurance vary between carriers. They also vary in terms of coverage. Don’t be shy about asking friends for recommendations either, referrals are great ways to validate the quality of a provider. However an insurance agent is the best and easiest way to get quotes from several companies in order to choose the best policy for your needs.

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

Prime Lending


Renters Insurance for College Students

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 12, 2017

Lallis & Higgins Insurance, Weymouth, Quincy, MA

Renters Insurance Should Be Considered For College Students Living on Their Own

College students renting an off-campus apartment or house while away at school should consider purchasing renters insurance to protect their personal property, such as a computer, television, stereo, bicycle or furniture, in the event that it is damaged, destroyed or stolen.

Even if a student is a dependent under his or her parent's insurance, the student's personal property, in many cases, is not covered if the student lives off campus. Parents should check their policy or contact their insurance agent to see if renters insurance is right for their son or daughter who is away at school.

What is Renters Insurance?

Renters insurance protects your personal property against damage or loss, and insures you in case someone is injured while on your property.

Why Purchase Renters Insurance?

If you live in a rented apartment, house or condominium, your landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover your personal property in the event that it is stolen or damaged as a result of a fire, theft or other unexpected circumstance.

College students living in off-campus housing are ideal candidates for needing renters insurance, since many students bring thousands of dollars’ worth of personal items, such as electronics, a computer, textbooks, clothes, furniture, and a bicycle, with them to school. It is the renter’s responsibility to provide coverage for these valuable items.

However, if a college student is under 26 years old, enrolled in classes and living in on-campus housing, the student may be covered under his or her parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policy.

The premiums for renters insurance average between $15 and $30 per month depending on the location and size of the rental unit and the policyholder’s possessions.

Basic Options

Most renters insurance policies provide two basic types of coverage: personal property and liability. Personal property coverage pays to repair or replace personal belongings if they are damaged, destroyed, or stolen. This is the most commonly purchased renters policy.

Liability insurance provides coverage against a claim or lawsuit resulting from bodily injury or property damage to others caused by an accident while on the policyholder’s property.

Unusually expensive items, such as fine jewelry or an art collection, may require the renter to purchase additional coverage, called a “rider” or “floater”. Your insurance agent can help you determine if additional coverage is necessary.

Shop for the Right Coverage

Another important factor to look for when shopping for renters insurance is “actual cash value” vs. “replacement cost” coverage.

Actual cash-value coverage will reimburse the renter for the cost of the personal property at the time of the claim, minus the deductible. It’s important to account for depreciation when considering this coverage option. For example, if a stereo system were stolen from an apartment, five years after the stereo was purchased, the policyholder would be reimbursed for the current value of the system.

Replacement cost coverage, on the other hand, will reimburse the full value of the new stereo system, after you purchase the new system and submit your receipts. While the up-front cost is greater, you are more likely to receive accurate compensation for your possessions.

Parents' Homeowners Insurance

As a parent with your own homeowners policy, you may want to contact your homeowners insurance company and ask if your child will be covered while they are away at school. Some companies might still cover your child's belongings under your policy depending on their age and student status. However, you will still be responsible for your deductible under your policy.

Other Points of Interest Regarding Renters Insurance

When a claim is reported, the insurance company will ask the policyholder for proof of purchase for all items reported on the claim. A comprehensive list of possessions, including purchase prices, model numbers and serial numbers, will suffice. It also is a good idea to take photos or video footage of any personal possessions for documentation, making sure it is stored in a secure, off-site location.

When determining how much, if any, renters insurance you should purchase, estimate the value of your personal possessions. This is the amount of insurance you will need to replace the contents of your home if everything were destroyed.

If a college student is living in an off-campus house or apartment with one or several roommates, they may be able to purchase a renters insurance policy together. Some policies automatically extend coverage to any resident of a policyholder’s household who fits the definition of a “domestic partner.” Otherwise, consider carrying separate coverage for each of the adult tenants.

One of the smartest things you can do as a renter is reduce the chances of needing to file a claim altogether by requesting that the property owner install an anti-theft or safety device inside the rental property.

In all cases, it is recommended to reference your current insurance policy or contact your agent when deciding whether or not to purchase renters insurance for a student away at college.

For more information on renter’s insurance for college students, contact Lallis& Higgins Insurance.

naic.org


Let's Keep Our Lawns - and Ourselves - Safe in Quincy and Weymouth, MA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 05, 2017

Lallis & Higgins Insurance, Quincy, Weymouth, MAFor many of our neighbors in Quincy and Weymouth, MA, summer means more than sunshine and vacations. It also means working in the yard - often with tools that can be dangerous if not used properly.

Each year about 400,000 people are treated for injuries from lawn and garden tools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Don't let your landscaping efforts land you in the hospital! Follow these handy safety tips.

Tool safety tips from the U.S. CPSC

  • Dress appropriately. To protect yourself from debris when using lawn tools, wear eye protection, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-fitting clothes and no jewelry. Sturdy shoes are recommended, and ear plugs may be appropriate depending on how loud the device is.
  • Before starting, remove objects from your work area that could cause injury or damage, such as sticks, glass or stones.
  • Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used. Never let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or riding mower, even if the child is supervised. And never assume children will remain where you last saw them. Use extreme caution when backing up or approaching corners, shrubs and trees.
  • Teenagers using power equipment should always be supervised by an adult.
  • Handle gasoline carefully. Never fill tanks while machinery is on or when equipment is still hot. Of course, you should never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline or any gasoline-powered equipment.
  • Do not work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
  • Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.

Lawn Chemical Safety Tips from Texas A&M University

  • If you use chemicals to control weeds or pests in your lawn, read the product label carefully so you understand the potential effects on humans, animals and the environment. Follow all instructions.
  • Keep children and animals away from the application area, and protect your skin, eyes and nose during and after application.
  • Remember, use only the recommended amount. Using more of the chemical will not do a better job.
  • Ask yourself if you truly need to use a general pesticide. Is there a product that will specifically treat only the problem you need to solve?

From all of us at Lallis & Higgins Insurance, here's to keeping both you and your lawn healthy this summer!



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