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Posts Tagged ‘homeowners’

Insurance for Coastal Homes Q&A with Paul Burke

Now that the weather is finally warming up, there’s no denying that the South Coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island is a great place to live — especially when you consider the beautiful beaches and scenery, fresh seafood, and sense of community found along the coast. Coastal homeowners also enjoy a boost as their home values increase, with many waterfront homes doubling in value over the last 20 years, according to a recent Zillow study.

As home values increase, however, so do the costs of insuring these beautiful properties. Luckily, your HIG insurance agent is here to help. While we can’t control the weather, we can help make sure you’re prepared for whatever it brings. Whether you live in Tiverton, RI or Fall River, MA, your HIG agent can help you put together a home insurance policy to fit your coastal home’s unique needs.

As experienced insurance professionals who have spent a combined 100 years living and working along the coast, we’re proud to be one of the most experienced coastal home insurance advisors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Our goal is to always answer any questions you may have about your insurance policies, which is why we sat down with HIG partner, Paul Burke, to go over some common insurance questions coastal homeowners often have — but remember, if you have a question that you don’t see answered below, you can always give us a call at 508.676.5949 or visit our offices in Fall River and Somerset.

1) Why is it difficult to find insurance companies that will write a policy on a home near the coast?

Insurance companies have to buy insurance, just like individuals do. This ‘reinsurance’ is more expensive for homes along the coast because of the recent increased prevalence of storms like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. These storms cause more costly damages for coastal homes than inland homes. Subsequently, many insurance companies no longer write home insurance policies for homes along the coast.

2) My homeowners policy has a Hurricane Deductible. Do all companies have this for properties near the coast?

Not all companies will have a hurricane deductible for homes along the coast. It’s important to understand that each insurance company will define a coastal home differently — some will say that a home near the ocean is coastal, while some will also call homes by bays or rivers coastal. The type of deductible the homeowners insurance policy for your coastal home will have is dependent on the company writing your policy. Some policies will have a hurricane deductible while some will have a wind deductible. Make sure to ask your agent which your policy has.

3) What is the difference between a hurricane deductible and a wind deductible?

A hurricane deductible will only apply when damage is incurred by a storm that has been named by the National Weather Service. A wind deductible applies to all wind losses, regardless of the type of storm.

4) Do I need flood insurance for my coastal home?

We can’t stress this enough: your homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage! This means it is vitally important for homeowners to discuss their flood insurance options with their independent insurance agent.

5) What separates HIG from other agencies when it comes to insurance for coastal homes?  

HIG has partnered with several top quality insurance providers, which allows us to write home insurance policies that address the specific needs of homeowners along the South Coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This gives us more flexibility to make sure our clients get the policies they need at a price they can afford.

When you work with an HIG agent, you’ll also get the best customer service around. We will walk you through your entire coastal home insurance policy from start to finish to make sure you are comfortable and confident in the policy you are purchasing. We will also continuously monitor the insurance options available for your home to make sure you are getting the best value and the best coverage.

Insuring your coastal home can seem like a daunting task, but your friends at HIG want to help simplify the process so that you can spend more time enjoying your home and less time stressing about your insurance. You can rest assured knowing that you will receive knowledgeable advice and recommendations from a local agent who knows exactly what is necessary to protect homes along the coast. Get in touch with an HIG agent today by visiting our website or giving us a call at 508.676.5949.

 

4 Critical Tips for Any Home Renovation Project

From deciding on a scope of work to figuring out a budget, there are several issues every homeowner has to worry about when contemplating a home renovation project. In the haze of planning, it’s crucial to remember to check in with your homeowners insurance agent first! Here are a few tips to keep in mind before beginning any renovation project:

1) Contact your insurance agent first.

One of the first and most important steps to take when planning a home renovation is talking to your insurance agent. They can review your homeowners policy to help you determine how much additional coverage you’ll need based on the size and scope of your renovation plan. Make sure to ask them what your policy covers during the construction process. Depending on the size of the project, you may need to purchase a builder’s risk policy, which will protect your property from accidental damage during the construction period.

2) Find a licensed and insured contractor.

Homeowners are responsible for ensuring that the contractor they choose to work with has both a license to perform the necessary work as well as insurance to cover any construction related incidents. Be sure to ask to see licenses and certificates of insurance before agreeing to work with anyone.

3) Make sure all subcontractors are licensed and insured.

Often times, your contractor will work with a team to finish your renovation. Just because your contractor has the proper credentials, doesn’t mean their subcontractors all do. From electrical to plumbing, you should make sure that the entire team working on your home has the necessary licenses and insurance.

4) Check on zoning and permit regulations.

Before starting construction, homeowners should check with their local building inspectors to ensure that the proposed project meets zoning regulations. Also make sure to ask about necessary permits for items like electrical or plumbing work. Remember, a city inspection is required after any renovation project, so make sure you and your contractor are clear on specific regulations for your neighborhood.

Don’t forget that if you are adding on to your existing property, you are also adding to the value of your home! All of this can be determined upfront, which is why it is so important to check in with your homeowners insurance agent before beginning work. Review any certificates you receive from your contractor or subcontractors with your home insurance agent and ask make sure to ask them whether your contractor needs to add you to their policy as an additional insured. Don’t forget, you should always check in with your agent during constructions for any issues that may arise!

Have more questions? Give HIG a call at 508-676-5949! Being a local Fall River agency, we have access to several companies in the area that can help insure any particular construction project and would be happy to go over your insurance coverage options!

 

 

What To Do If A Pipe Bursts

You thought you took the necessary steps to protect your home from freezing temperatures, but now you’re dealing with a burst pipe. What should you do? First of all, stay calm. Then, follow these steps.

Shut off your water and potentially your electricity

If a pipe bursts in your home, the first thing you should do is turn off your water to minimize flooding damage. Every homeowner should know where the main water valve is. Find it and shut it off immediately! If necessary, you should also turn off electricity to the areas of your home where the flooding is occurring.

If you are living in an apartment and do not have access to the building’s water supply or electric services, call your landlord or building manager as soon as you notice a problem.

Call a plumber

Next, call a plumber. If your plumber does not offer 24-hour services, do some research. A quick online search should yield services in your area that work round the clock.

Move your belongings

Move anything you can away from leaking pipes to minimize damage. This includes furniture, clothing, art, or any other items that can be damaged by water. Be extremely careful with electronic devices that may have come in contact with water.

Remove as much water as you can

Get together as many buckets, pots, pans or any other containers you have and start collecting the water. You want to get as much water out as quickly as possible to avoid problems with mold and mildew. Towels and mops or even a wet/dry vacuum can also help with this process. If you don’t own a wet-dry vac, try renting one from your local hardware or home improvement store.

Set up fans and a dehumidifier in the affected area to remove moisture from the air and dry things out faster. Make sure to keep an eye on the dehumidifier and empty it before it fills up. Desiccant products like silica gel can also help for more serious damage. You can apply tubs or sachets of the gel near areas most affected by water such as floors or walls.

For more severe damage, such as leaks affecting multiple rooms or floors of your home or cases where leaks have gone unnoticed for more than 8 hours, a water mitigation or restoration professional may be required.

Call you insurance agent

Get in touch with your insurance agent to keep them up to date about what is happening. Photographs and notes recording the extent of the damage will help you and your agent when it comes time to file an insurance claim.

Did you know that burst pipes are covered under most homeowner insurance policies? Give us a call at 508-676-5949 to discuss home insurance rates or head to our website for more information.

How to Reinforce Your Home to Resist Flood Damage

Along the South Coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, there is a high potential for flooding as a result of increasingly violent storms. High winds, downbursts, and fast-moving water are just a few examples of forces that increase the risk of water damage inside your home. Even with our close proximity to the water along the coast, most people don’t realize that flood insurance is not covered in your a homeowners insurance policy.

Here at HIG Insurance, we’ve worked to protect homeowners from flood damage for more than 100 years. The first step to protect your coastal home is to get good flood insurance — then consider these ways to reinforce your home during storms:

Caulking and Weather-Stripping

You may know that weatherizing can keep your home warmer while saving you money on energy bills. But did you know that quality caulking and weather-stripping can also help protect your home from flood related water damage?

Checking for existing leaks and sealing cracks is an effective way to minimize flood damage. Before applying caulk or weather-stripping, assess your home to figure out where water may enter during periods of heavy rain and wind. Look for gaps or holes around window frames, doors, and vents. Pay special attention to cracks in your basement, roof, or in the foundation of your home. Keep in mind that for large cracks, you may need to call a professional.

Affixing weather stripping to all doors that provide outside access is another way to keep water, snow, or sleet out of your house. When installed correctly, weather-stripping should create a watertight seal when doors are closed. Both caulking and weather-stripping wear with time and use, so make sure to inspect both annually.

Gutters and Downspout Inspection

It is important to keep your gutters and downspouts clear all year round. If leaves or other debris are clogging gutters, they can create blockages that prevent water from flowing away from your home. Make sure to also check for leaks in your gutters and downspouts to avoid potentially ruining both the siding and foundation of your home.

Especially during times of heavy rain, it is crucial to ensure that water is moving away from the foundation of your home to avoid flooding. If this is a problem for your house, consider purchasing a downspout extender. Ideally, water should be released away from your home at a distance of at least five feet.

Check Flood Vents

In the event that water does enter your home, flood vents can reduce the likelihood of structural damage by equalizing water pressure inside and outside of your home. If you have structures that are below base flood elevation or if you live in an area prone to flooding, you should consider installing flood vents. It is important to note that while many crawlspaces have air vents in the foundation, these do not function in the same way as a flood vent.

Make sure you have enough flood vents for the size of the area you are trying to vent. Vent opening should be large enough to provide for the force and flow of water. They should also be located low enough on the structure of your home to avoid draining water back to your foundation. Lastly, make sure to check regularly that flood vents are not blocked by debris, especially during periods of heavy rain and flooding.

Dry vs Wet Flood-Proofing

Dry flood-proofing involves several methods for keeping water from entering your home all together, while wet flood-proofing has more to do with minimizing damage once water has gotten into your home. Often times, these approaches are better suited for homes or structures that are not being lived in during times of flooding, such as vacation or seasonal homes.

For dry flood-proofing, you should consider steps such as anchoring your structure, reinforcing walls, raising all utility services above flood walls, and installing a sump pump in your basement. Wet flood-proofing consists of changing the uninhabited areas of your home that are more prone to flooding, such as basements and crawlspaces. This can include installing flood vents (described above) or replacing all construction and finishing materials with flood resistant materials.

Often times, a structural engineer is required for when implementing either of these methods. Make sure to be aware of permitting and coding regulations in your specific area before making large structural changes to your home.

Learn More About Flooding

To read more about how to protect your home and family both before and during severe weather, here are some resources for you to check out:

HIG specializes in helping Fall River, Massachusetts and Rhode Island owners of coastal properties find the best Flood Insurance for protecting their home in case of flood damage. Please give us a call at 508-676-5949 to speak to an expert today.