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What Flood Insurance Covers

- Tuesday, July 27, 2021

In the event of a flood, your National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy covers direct physical losses to your structure and belongings.

What does my policy cover?

Purchasing flood insurance will help protect the things you value. The NFIP offers two types of coverage – building coverage and contents coverage – to protect your home and belongings. Here are examples of what’s covered with NFIP flood insurance:

Building coverage protects your:

  • Contents coverage protects your:
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • Furnaces and water heaters
  • Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances like dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting
  • Permanently installed cabinets, paneling, and bookcases
  • Window blinds
  • Foundation walls, anchorage systems, and staircases.
  • Detached garages
  • Fuel tanks, well water tanks and pumps, and solar energy equipment

Contents coverage protects your:

  • Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment
  • Curtains
  • Washer and dryer
  • Portable and window air conditioners
  • Microwave oven
  • Carpets not included in building coverage (e.g., carpet installed over wood floors)
  • Valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)

What isn’t covered by flood insurance?

When determining coverage, the cause of flooding matters.

Flood insurance covers losses directly caused by flooding. In simple terms, a flood is an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties.

For example, damage caused by a sewer backup is covered if the backup is a direct result of flooding. If the sewer backup is not caused directly by flooding, the damage is not covered.

Have questions about your coverage? Talk to Lallis & Higgins Insurance about what is and isn’t covered by your policy.


Home Renovation Projects That Impact Your Insurance

- Monday, July 19, 2021
Lallis and Higgins Insurance - Home Renovation Projects

Thinking about a DIY home improvement project? Maybe a new kitchen or bathroom makeover?

If project excites you, you’re not alone. The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) says do-it-yourselfers complete two-thirds of home improvement projects — and spend less than those who depend solely on contractors. While saving money is satisfying, the sense of accomplishment DIYers feel is even better.

But before you pick up a hammer or grab a paintbrush, you’ll need to do some homework. As you draw plans, budget, purchase materials and secure permits, you also need to think about home insurance. Talk to your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent before you start work. Your agent can help you assess the unexpected risks of your project.

Here are five common renovation projects that may require additional insurance:

Kitchen renovation

Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a new kitchen, one with quartz countertops and Wi-Fi-enabled appliances. Kitchen remodels can add convenience and significant value to your home, but there are a few insurance considerations:

  • Depending on your level of experience, you may need the help of a plumber or electrician. Make sure the contractors you hire are bonded and insured. Do they carry liability insurance? Ask to see their certificate of coverage.
  • Check with your agent to see if you should increase your homeowners coverage. If your renovation substantially increases the value of your house, you could be underinsured if you haven’t raised your limits. Generally, you need enough insurance to replace 80% of your home’s value.
  • Will friends be helping you? Ask your agent about adding no-fault coverage or raising your medical expenses coverage.

Bathroom makeover

You have visions of a soaking tub, new vanities and imported marble tile. Sounds delightful, but keep these points in mind:

  • You may need a plumber to help you move a water line or drain. Bear in mind that water damage caused by your faulty workmanship won’t be covered by your homeowners policy. On the other hand, if you use a contractor, their business insurance should cover the damage to your home.
  • Will that expensive marble be sitting in your driveway after it’s delivered? Costly materials have a way of walking away from a job site. Check to see if your policy covers theft or damage to your building materials.

Home office

You’ve decided to convert a spare bedroom into a home office. It’s an easy renovation, but here are some insurance considerations:

  • Most homeowners policies only provide limited coverage (up to about $2,500) for office equipment. If you have items that exceed that amount, you’ll need additional coverage. Your agent can recommend some options.
  • If you’re doing work for your firm at home, make sure you’re covered by the company’s business and workers’ compensation policies. If you’re self-employed, you may need a separate business policy, especially if clients visit your house.


You’ve always wanted a room off the kitchen to take advantage of the morning sun. Sunrooms can provide enjoyment year-round, but you do need to keep a few things in mind:

  • Talk to your agent about adding a new room to your homeowners policy. You may be able to get a discount if you install energy-efficient windows or heavy-duty locks on an exterior door.
  • Is the project insured against severe weather? Theft or vandalism? You may need a builders risk policy.

Finished basement

You’re planning to create extra living space in the basement for your growing family. You’ve contracted to have a French drain and a sump pump installed to prevent water from leaking in. You’ve also decided to live in a friend’s house while you work on the project.


  • If your house is unoccupied during construction, you may need vacant home insurance.
  • Be sure to get a warranty on the French drain. Flooding isn’t covered by homeowners insurance. However, you can add water backup coverage to your policy to pay for damage if your sump pump fails.
  • Game room? Home theater? Extra bathroom? You may need to increase the limits on your homeowners policy. On the other hand, upgrading old wiring or installing a security system could lower your premiums.

If you’ve got the home renovation bug, maybe it’s time you joined the ranks of millions of satisfied DIYers. Just remember to contact your Trusted Choice insurance agent to get your insurance needs squared away. Then you can hammer to your heart’s content.

Summer Grilling Tips

- Monday, July 12, 2021
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Summer Grilling Tips

America has a longstanding love affair with a classic backyard barbecue. Whether the snow has barely melted or it’s blazing hot outside, people across the country will find almost any excuse to fire up their beloved grill or smoker for a delicious meal with a flame-broiled or smoky flavor.

Whether you’re entertaining a houseful of guests or grilling up a simple meal for you and the family, grill safety is a must for everyone from the first-time-cook to the grill master.

Before you fire up, be sure your backyard barbecue is hazard-free with these grill safety tips.

Before Grilling

  • Never light your grill or smoker inside the garage, workshop or other indoor space.
  • Keep your grill in a well-ventilated area and at least 10 feet from your home, fences and trees or hanging branches or plants. If it’s a windy day, use extra caution and put even more space between your grill and anything that could catch on fire.
  • Be sure your grill is situated on a flat, stable surface.
  • If using a gas grill, check the gas line and connections before lighting the grill.
  • Check burners for rust.
  • Inspect tubes that extend from the burner to the control valves regularly.

While Grilling

  • Always use a light stick or mechanical lighter to light your grill.
  • If using a charcoal grill, use enough charcoal to cover the base about two inches deep.
  • Allow lighter fluid to soak into charcoal for a few minutes before lighting the coals.
  • Stand back when lighting the grill.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing while grilling.
  • Never leave a lit grill unattended.
  • Use long-handled, flame retardant tools and insulated mitts when grilling.
  • Never use water to put out a grease fire. Instead, spread baking soda over the flames.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill and lighter, and store lighter fluid and matches or lighters where they cannot be easily accessed.

After Grilling

  • Allow your grill to cool completely before moving it.
  • Store extra propane cylinders outdoors.
  • Turn off all burners and propane cylinders when you’re done grilling.
  • Allow coals to burn out completely or soak in water before emptying them into a non-combustible container.
  • Wrap cool ashes in foil and place in an empty non-combustible container.
  • Store unused charcoal in a metal container with a lid.
  • Keep your grill clean and remove grease or fat buildup from the grates and the tray below the grill.

Happy Summer!


What to Know About Buying a Vacant Home

- Wednesday, July 07, 2021
Lallis & Higgins Insurance, Quincy, Weymouth, MA

Why buy a vacant home? One of the biggest perks is being able to make the home whatever you want it to be. You can make it your new home, create a vacation home, rent it out, or fix it up and sell it to someone else. In some cases the seller may be willing to sell a vacant home cheaper than an occupied home. This is good news for you because you can save some money, but it could also mean something might be wrong with the house. It may need a little love, attention and renovation. Before you purchase a vacant home, here are a few things to do and watch out for:

Professional Inspection

Ask for an inspection from a professional and take notes on what they discover. You'll want to know what's broken, what needs to be fixed and what could possibly go wrong. (Note: Be prepared to pay for the home's electricity to be on for the duration of the inspection).


Since vacant homes can sit for quite some time, critters may come in and make themselves at home. Although they are usually small animals such as mice or bats, they can cause damage to a vacant house. Those unwanted critters can eat at the floors, carpets, walls and wiring. Be aware that you may need to hire a pest control service, and this could be costly based on the number of animals and the amount of damage.


There may be plumbing issues that have caused dried and cracked seals, slow faucets, leaks and other issues. If the heat hasn't been on and the temperatures dropped, the pipes could be at risk to freeze or burst (if they haven't already).


The previous owner may not have unplugged their indoor appliances, such as refrigerators and freezers, or let them dry out. There may be mold inside from the moisture being trapped. Having appliances plugged in with no one there could result in a fire (if the electric was on). Appliances in the house may become unusable due to long periods of sitting with no use, which means you will need new ones.


Remember, molds can grow on more than just appliances! Check for mold in the walls, floors, pipes…everywhere! Some molds may cause health issues, so if mold is found during your inspection, you may want to rethink purchasing the home. Talk with your inspector about the extremity and presence of mold, and evaluate the safety risks.

Unanticipated Repairs

There are other potential sources of damage. For example, break-ins are more likely when a home appears empty, and windows, doors and other items could be damaged by the intruder. Storms are another danger. Debris could hit the home and cause damage that may have gone undetected. Always thoroughly inspect the home before buying!

There are a lot of things to do and watch out for before purchasing a vacant home, but the possibilities of what the home could be are endless. If you are looking to buy a vacant home but haven't found one yet, there are a few ways to move forward. Look online, talk to neighbors, get a realtor or simply drive around. There are more vacant homes than you think…happy hunting!


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