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Do I Need Flood Insurance?

- Monday, March 28, 2022
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Flood Insurance

It’s easy to assume that if your home isn’t in a flood-prone area, you don’t need flood insurance. But that can leave you at a greater risk than you think.

In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, 90% of all U.S. natural disasters involve flooding. And the cost to repair flood damage can be more than many families are able to pay.

Get peace of mind knowing your greatest asset is protected with a flood insurance policy tailored to your risk and the value of your home.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Flooding?

Sometimes it can be confusing to know exactly what’s covered in your homeowner’s insurance policy. But it’s important to understand that flooding is never covered. For example: if lightning damages your home in a storm, that damage may be covered, but if that same storm results in flooding, water damage is not covered.

That’s why it’s so important to consider purchasing a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

When Is Flood Insurance Required?

If you’re wondering, “Does my house need flood insurance?” a great place to start is by checking with your mortgage lender.

In some cases, you may be required by your mortgage lender to have flood insurance in place. This typically happens when you live in a high-risk area or are working with a federally regulated lender, like the Federal Housing Authority.

But exactly where is flood insurance required? To find out, check the FEMA Flood Map – an online tool that allows you to see your home’s risk level. Those living in high-risk zones are required to have flood insurance.

But remember that just because you’re in a lower risk zone doesn’t mean your home is protected and won’t ever flood. In fact, flooding is the most frequent and costly natural disaster in the United States, and all 50 states are at risk. Any home can flood so it’s best to always be prepared and talk to an independent insurance agent to see what coverage options are available and best for your home. Your agent knows you, your home and your specific risk better than anyone else and can help advise you on the best path to take.

How Much Does Flood Insurance cost?

Like other insurance policies, the price of flood insurance can vary depending on factors like:

  • Your location
  • Your property’s risk
  • What your policy covers (like structural damage or personal property protection)
  • How much coverage you choose

Because primary flood insurance is offered exclusively through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, it’s hard to say exactly how much coverage you’ll need and how much it’ll cost. There are limits set on coverages for flood-related building damage and property damage. You may also have to wait a certain period of time before the plan kicks in. Check it out for yourself and talk to an insurance agent about your specific situation to get an estimate on the cost for you.

So, is it worth it to have flood insurance? We think so. Regardless of where you live, there’s no better feeling than knowing the things that matter most are fully protected whenever the unexpected happens.

Talk to Lallis & Higgins Insurance, your independent insurance agent, to determine if flood insurance is right for you.

10 Questions to Ask a Landlord Before Renting

- Monday, March 21, 2022
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Renting

Finding the perfect place to live can take a little digging. After a listing has caught your eye, but before you start packing to move, talk with the prospective landlord. With the right questions, you can get useful information that will help you clearly understand the details of the lease and determine if the apartment or house is a good fit for you.

1. How Long is the Lease?

Most leases last for 12 months, then switch to a month-to-month agreement. However, it’s a good idea to ask upfront how long the lease is for, as terms can range from six months to 18 months. If you want to settle in one place for a year or two, then a six-month lease may not be best option for you. It’s also beneficial to ask if and how the lease will renew if you want to stay longer than the initial lease agreement.

2. What Is the Cost of Rent, Utilities and Security Deposits?

An apartment lease is so much more than an agreement to rent a space at a specific price for a specific time period. Leases also cover other financial requirements like the amount of your security deposit, utility deposit and costs, and move-in fees. Compare the information on the apartment listing to the lease agreement. If costs don’t line up, try to negotiate for the lesser amount.

When determining your budget and whether an apartment is the right price for you, it’s easy to overlook utility costs. To avoid problems down the road, ask what utilities you can expect to pay, whether any are included in your rent and their average monthly costs. For example, some rentals will include the cost of water and trash in your rent while others expect you to pay those fees directly to the provider.

You should also ask how much the security deposit is and if there are any non-refundable deposits required. Generally, security deposits legally have to be refunded, unless they need to be used for repairing damages caused by a tenant or if a tenant breaks the lease. Move-in fees, pet fees and other costs baked into the lease may not be refunded, so it’s best to ask up front so you’re not surprised.

3. Is Renters Insurance Required?

Some landlords require tenants to have renters insurance, which can actually benefit you in the long run in case the unexpected happens to your things. It can also help protect you from medical bills if a guest was hurt while in your apartment. Even if your landlord doesn’t require it, you should seriously consider renters insurance.

Renters insurance can help provide coverage for:

  • Your belongings in case of damage or theft.
  • Legal fees if you unintentionally cause property damage.
  • Medical bills if someone is injured on your property.
  • Unexpected costs if the apartment becomes uninhabitable, like from a fire, and you have to find another place to live while repairs are made.

Renters insurance is usually very affordable and can be customized to get exactly what you’ll need for added peace of mind – no matter what your neighbors are into. There are also a lot of discounts to help lower the premiums even more, like a discount just for being a new customer. Discover the full benefits of renters insurance or contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance (- link to contact us page) to learn more about Main Street America’s renters insurance policies.

4. How Much Notice Do I Need to Give Before Moving Out?

Your lease should indicate how much notice you need to give your landlord before moving out. Most landlords require one to three months’ notice before you move out but be sure to ask your landlord directly before signing the lease. Giving proper notice before handing in your keys can help avoid unnecessary stress and fees.

5. Are Pets Allowed?

When it comes to pets, every apartment is different. If you have pets, you’ll want to be sure your apartment allows them and that your pets fit within the pet policies established in your lease. Pet policies vary between landlords and usually spell out limitations on the breed, size, species or number of pets. Ask your landlord about any specific pet restrictions they may have. Ask about fees, too, like a one-time pet deposit or a monthly pet fee, so you can account for them in your budget.

6. Are Guests Allowed?

Some properties have rules regarding guests and visitors, especially if they have to pass through a shared lobby or community space. Ask your landlord what their guest policy is, including what qualifies as a long-term visitor, and if there are restricted hours. Double check that these rules are also outlined in the lease.

7. What Are the Consequences of Breaking the Lease?

Life happens and some circumstances may require you to break your lease. Understanding the consequences before signing will help you know what to expect if you do need to pack up early. Potential consequences include losing your security deposit, paying a few months’ rent or paying a percentage of the rent owed for the rest of the lease term. Request that your landlord clearly outline any of these consequences in the agreement – just in case.

8. Is Subletting Allowed?

In some cases, you can sublet the apartment to avoid breaking the lease if an unexpected situation arises. Ask your landlord if this would be an option and what the subletting process would include. Landlords may want to screen anyone subletting the unit or they may not allow subletting.

9. What Is the Application and Screening Process?

Have your landlord detail the application and screening process before moving forward. This will let you know if there are any associated fees or credit checks involved, which could sway your decision. Application and screening fees may not be refundable and hard credit inquiries may temporarily lower your credit score.

10. How Safe Is the Neighborhood?

Ask your landlord about neighborhood safety, including reports of break-ins, thefts or assaults at or around the property. You can also search public records or check with law enforcement to get an idea of the area’s crime rates. Even if they’re low, find out how to stay safe in your home.


Things to Consider Before Buying a Boat

- Monday, March 14, 2022
Lallis and Higgins Insurance - Boat Insurance

Whether you're buying a fishing boat, cabin cruiser, pontoon or speed boat, different components like cost, horsepower, weight capacity or onboard storage may prove to be more important to you than others.

Answer these questions before going boat shopping:


What are you hoping to use your boat for? All boat styles have a different design tailored to their use. Speed boats may be better for tubing and water skiing, but wouldn't hold as many people or be as fish-accessible as a pontoon or fishing boat. Maybe you're in the market for a sailboat, or leaning towards a houseboat. There are so many different varieties of boats, so make an informed decision on which one is right for you (information provided by Discover Boating).


What's your budget? This may help decide whether to purchase a pre-owned boat. According to Discover Boating, new boats depreciate anywhere between 25%-33% immediately after leaving the dealer's lot. So if you buy a pre-owned boat, someone else has already paid that depreciation cost - more boat for fewer dollars! However, buying a new boat will offer a warranty, the newest technology, and that nice shiny look as you move across the water - the choice is up to you!


How many people are you hoping to go on your boating excursions with? The capacity on personal fishing boats is generally smaller than a pontoon boat, which are made to hold anywhere between 8-15 adults comfortably.


What type of equipment will you want onboard? Here's some suggestions:

  • Trolling Motor
  • Lights
  • Depth finder
  • Live well
  • GPS
  • Canopy/bimini
  • Stereo
  • Tables
  • Emergency survival kit
  • Fire extinguisher


Will your car be able to tow the new boat? According to Auto Bytel, the average 21-foot boat trailer weighs between 500 and 1,000 pounds, while most boats in this size range hover in the 4,000-5,000 pound range. This means that you'll want an SUV or truck that is rated to tow between 4,500-6,000 pounds in total.

Storage Limitations

Will your new boat fit in your garage during the off season? Alongside your garage? In a separate storage space?

And a few other components to consider…

  • Horsepower
  • Engine Type
  • Hull (Deep V, Modified V, Pontoon, etc.)
  • Storage Onboard

No matter what you decide, get out there, matey, and enjoy the open seas!


Taking Your Motorcycle Out of Storage

- Tuesday, March 08, 2022
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Motorcycle Out of Storage

As the weather starts warming up for riders who live in the north, there’s good news! It’s time to take your bike out of storage and get it ready for the open road. If you’re someone who’s been riding all winter long, you can take this opportunity for a small tune up on your bike, since regular maintenance on your bike is always recommended!

If you live in Massachusetts, it’s likely your bike was in storage the last four to six months and it’s not ideal to simply take your bike out and start riding it. There is a set of steps you should take to prepare it for riding, and we’re here to guide you through it.

Below are five maintenance tasks you don’t want to forget to do before you fire up that engine.

Charge or replace the battery.

When a bike is in storage for a long period of time without being on a trickle charge, the battery may die. Simply charge it back up and you should be back in business. However, if your battery is more than two years old, it may be time to replace the battery.

Examine the tires.

Make sure your tires are in the best condition possible. Look closely for any signs of wear or damage such as cracking along the sidewall, cupping, tears or unusual indentations. If they look good, check the tire pressure and fill them with air if necessary.

Drain and replace oil and filter. Check other fluids as a precaution.

Even if you did this before putting your bike in storage, it’s a good idea to start with fresh oil for the season. You can perform the oil change yourself, or get it serviced by a professional if you don’t feel comfortable. Remember to also check your transmission fluid, antifreeze and brake fluid (or you can have a professional do this part as well).

Check the air filter.

The air filter is a popular spot for pests to hide. Inspect it thoroughly. if you see signs that a creature made its way in there, replace the filter. If it looks clean, it’s good to go!

Inspect the brakes, plugs and chain.

Be sure to check your brakes before you hit the road after storing your bike for any period of time. You’ll want to clean and lube your chain, and tighten any nuts and bolts as needed.

Once you have completed these tasks, it’s a good idea to take a test ride around your neighborhood to ensure everything is working properly. Stay safe, and Ride On!


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