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Do I Need Homeowners Insurance and When Should I Buy It?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Lallis & Higgins Insurance, Quincy, Weymouth, MA

If you're shopping for your dream home, you may have questions about homeowners insurance. It’s another expense of home ownership, so it’s logical to ask the question: Do you need homeowners insurance, and if so, when in the house buying process do you buy it?

Here's a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help you understand when you need to get homeowners insurance.

Is Homeowners Insurance Required?

There's no law that requires home insurance. But mortgage lenders do require you to get home insurance coverage before they will agree to finance your home purchase. Home insurance protects the mortgage lender’s investment by providing the money to repair or rebuild the home if it is damaged or destroyed by a fire, a lightning storm, a tornado or some other covered event.

What Kind of Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?

There are many things to consider, but for starters, you will probably want a homeowners insurance policy which typically covers:

Your house: Homeowners insurance coverage can help pay to repair or rebuild your house and possibly other structures on your property, such as a detached garage or a storage shed, after damage from a covered loss.

Your stuff: Homeowners insurance can help pay to replace your possessions if they're damaged or destroyed by a covered loss.

A place to stay: Your homeowners insurance policy may include additional living expenses (ALE) coverage to help cover the cost of a hotel or other lodging while your home is being fixed or rebuilt.

Legal bills: If a guest slips on your walkway, you could be held liable. In this case, your homeowners insurance can help cover the related medical bills, your legal costs and potential court awards up to the dollar limit determined in the policy.

Generally, a typical homeowners policy does not include coverage for earthquakes or flood. Depending on the location of your home, your lender may require you to buy insurance that covers loss caused by earthquake or flood . And if you have valuable items that exceed the special dollar limits of your homeowners policy, such as an art collection or fine jewelry, you may want to purchase extra coverage, known as a Personal Articles Floater (PAF), for those items.

Is Hazard Insurance the Same as Homeowners Insurance?

Some mortgage lenders use the term "hazard insurance" to refer to the part of a homeowners insurance policy that covers the structure of the home. Even if the terminology seems a little confusing, simply put, this means the lender requires that you have homeowners insurance. The lender also may require you to have flood insurance or other coverage, depending on the location.

Lallis & Higgins Insurance allows you to customize your coverage to fit your unique needs. We'll help you understand the risks you face and get the coverage to help prepare you for the unexpected. Contact us.

Buying a House? When to Get Homeowners Insurance

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Lallis & Higgins Insurance -- Quincy, Weymouth, MA

Buying a new house is exciting, whether you are a first-time buyer or an experienced homeowner. Going through open houses or viewing homes for sale with a real estate agent offers the chance to see what features you do and do not want in your new home. While finding your perfect new home and starting the buying process is thrilling, it can also be stressful. Worrying about price negotiations, home inspection and mortgage terms can dampen the excitement of buying a house.

Often overlooked in the long list of things to do before buying and moving into your new home is getting home insurance. Getting homeowners insurance before closing is an important step in the homebuying process and should be a priority.

When Do I Need to Get Homeowners Insurance?

In general, you purchase homeowners insurance before closing on the home. By securing the coverage you need before you even move into your new home, you safeguard your purchase from disaster. It is important to research various insurance policy options as they may offer different levels of coverage. Once you have found a policy that is best for you, check that it meets the requirements of your lender. Most financial institutions won’t fund a mortgage, or home equity lines of credit, without the home being insured. In fact, some lenders may require that you purchase extra coverage in addition to a basic homeowners policy.

After determining that your desired policy meets your lender’s requirements, you can purchase the insurance. This should be done sometime before you go to the meeting to officially close on your home. The insurance company will normally pre-approve the policy and then wait for your escrow/title company to send a request for Proof of Insurance when the final closing date is near. The insurance company will then email or fax the confirmation of coverage before the closing date.

Protecting Yourself and the Lender

Purchasing a homeowners insurance policy keeps your new home safe from disasters such as a burst pipe or fire. This safety net offers a clear advantage for the homeowner should an accident occur. Rather than paying out of pocket for expensive repairs, the insurance covers the cost of repairing any damage. Homeowners can relax knowing their home will be repaired and they can continue enjoying their investment.

Your lender enjoys similar protection from your home insurance. Having invested their money to help you buy your new home, your lender wants to know that their investment is safeguarded. Luckily, paying for your home insurance is usually made simple with an escrow account. This account is set up by your lender to hold funds for certain property expenses. Some of your monthly mortgage payment is put into your escrow account by your lender. They can then pay for your insurance costs and/or property taxes using the money in the account. Paying the premium on your behalf protects the lender by allowing them to verify that your home is covered. The escrow account also makes your life as a homeowner less stressful, as you pay one monthly payment to the lender rather than paying several different monthly, yearly or quarterly payments to various outlets.

Smart and Necessary

Purchasing an insurance policy is a smart move in protecting the incredible investment of a new house. In addition to covering repairs to your home, many policies offer some coverage for you and your family’s belongings. Basic homeowners policies usually include liability coverage to protect you against legal action if someone is hurt on your property. These lesser-known benefits of homeowners insurance increase the value of purchasing a policy.

Your lender’s required amount of coverage for your new home may not be clear. Each lender may differ in their insurance requirements, so it is important to understand exactly what coverage is needed. Additionally, there may be extra coverage options that are not required but are included in your homeowners insurance policy or offered optionally. If you have any questions about what is covered in your policy, speak with a trusted Wawanesa homeowners insurance agent by calling 1-877-WAWANESA (929-2637). Your agent can help you determine if you have enough coverage to meet the lender’s requirements.

Your HOA and Homeowners Insurance

If your new home is in a subdivision or planned community, you are likely required to pay a homeowners association fee. Also known as HOA fees, this money helps cover the upkeep and maintenance costs of the community where your home is located. Often included in HOA fees are your home’s portion of an insurance policy for the community and/or complex.

As a community member, this HOA policy is partly your responsibility, but it does not cover the structure of your home or the belongings inside of it. To protect your new house from disaster, the HOA insurance is insufficient. It is important to protect your home with a personal homeowners insurance policy. A personal policy covers the physical structure of your home. Coverage may also be available for your family’s belongings inside the home and outbuildings such as garden sheds.

Your HOA and Condominium Insurance

The insurance policy purchased by the Condominium Association offers coverage for the common areas and, in most cases, the basic structure of a condominium or townhouse complex. Swimming pools, tennis courts and playgrounds for neighborhood families to enjoy are usually covered in this policy. As a part-owner of these amenities, it is partly your responsibility to pay for accidents or liabilities that may occur in community areas.

Should a child sustain an injury on the community playground and the parents decide to sue the Association, you may be liable for a portion of the costs. Any loss costs in excess of the Association’s coverage limits are passed on to you as a part-owner of the community. You may be able to add extra coverage to your personal insurance policy to help protect you in the event the Association’s insurance is insufficient to cover the community expenses related to a covered loss.

Flood Coverage

There are some limitations to basic homeowners insurance policies. Depending on your home’s geographical area, you may need to purchase additional coverage for disasters such as floods.

Most homeowners insurance policies cover flooding from a burst pipe or other water leak in your home, but they usually do not cover flooding as a result of natural disaster. Homes that are built on a floodplain, or are in commonly-flooded areas, often benefit from flood insurance. Your lender may even require additional coverage for flooding if you live in a floodplain. Adding flood insurance to your basic insurance helps cover repairs to your home if it suffers damage from flooding.

Homeowners insurance policies offer both you and your mortgage lender protection in the investment of your new house. Shopping for a new home is an exciting and stressful time and purchasing insurance may become an afterthought. Take the time to understand how to get homeowners insurance when buying a house by researching what coverage your new home needs.

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

Hands-Free – It’s the Law as of Feb. 23

Joseph Coupal - Monday, February 10, 2020

Are your clients aware that holding their cellphone while driving will soon become a surchargeable offense? Effective 2/23/2020, the new “hands-free” law in MA makes it illegal for motor vehicle and bicycle operators to hold any electronic device or phone, including when stopped at red lights or stop signs! All devices must be properly mounted and can only be used in hands-free mode. Penalties start at $100 and go up to $500 PLUS mandatory distracted driving education AND an insurance surcharge. The state has created a downloadable pamphlet you can use to help notify your clients.

DOWNLOAD PAMPHLET: Hands-Free While Driving from

This pamphlet provides an excellent overview of what the new law means for drivers under and over age 18, and the consequences they’ll face for breaking the law.

To summarize the key points…

Drivers 18 and over:

Can ONLY use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode

CANNOT touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode or enable GPS, and then ONLY if the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.

CANNOT touch the device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use

Can use voice-to-text communication to electronic devices ONLY when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.

Handheld use is allowed ONLY if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane.

Handheld use is NOT allowed at red lights or stop signs

Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

In an Emergency

Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, safely pull over and stop before calling 911.

Contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance for more information.

Safety Tips for Electric Car Charging

Joseph Coupal - Monday, February 03, 2020
Lallis & Higgins, Weymouth, Quincy, MA

The number of electric cars in the U.S. continues to increase, and many homeowners are choosing to purchase these vehicles to reduce fuel costs and help the environment. Like any device that requires electricity to charge it, homeowners need to be mindful of the limitations of their electrical system when charging their vehicles at home.

To reduce the risk of damage to both a home's electrical system and to the vehicle's battery, homeowners should follow some basic safety guidelines:

Be aware of the type of charging station needed to charge the vehicle. Many electric vehicles can charge using a standard three-prong, 110-volt wall outlet, but certain types of vehicles, including Tesla models, may require installation of specific wall connectors in order to charge. Consult the owner's manual or the manufacturer's website for more information about the connection type needed for each vehicle.

Consider the time needed to fully charge the battery. For many electric vehicles, charging using a standard 110-volt outlet can take 18 hours or more. Many homeowners who wish to charge their vehicles more quickly opt to install a 240-volt charger (also known as a Level 2 charger). A Level 2 charger can charge at an average rate seven to eight times faster than a Level 1. Individuals who regularly drive longer distances on a daily basis frequently opt for a Level 2 charger.

Keep in mind what other appliances might be on the same circuit as the charger. If high power drain appliances like heaters, air conditioners or dryers are on the same circuit, it could cause the circuit breaker to trip, and increases the risk of electrical fire. Whenever possible, always plug a vehicle's charging cord directly into the wall outlet. Extension cords increase the risk of electrical fires significantly, especially if they are not used properly. If you do have to use an extension cord to charge a vehicle, make sure the cord is a high enough gauge to handle the current, and use the shortest length of cord possible. When in doubt, consult a qualified electrician to ensure that the home has proper outlets and electrical service installed. Old or loose wiring and improperly installed breaker panels can lead to severe damage, and can even cause fires.

Even the most diligent homeowner can't prepare for every scenario. For more information, contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance.

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