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Posts Tagged ‘insurance’

Business Insurance: Answers To Frequently Asked Questions Many Business Owners Have

 

Here at HIG, we’ve been helping local businesses in Fall River, Somerset, and along the South Coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island with their business insurance needs for more than 100 years. Over the course of that time, we’ve seen how the business world has changed, and have worked to make sure our insurance offerings evolve with it.

We sat down with HIG partner Chris Hadley to go over some of the biggest risks and questions that business owners today have. Read along to learn more about what your business needs to be fully protected.

Q. What are some business insurance options that can protect a company when it comes to slips and falls?

A. “Slips and falls are a pretty big concern for businesses, especially in the winter time. We see this come up a lot when businesses don’t properly salt an entrance or sidewalk. We also see issues with this when people mop floors during business hours. That can be a big risk, even if you put up ‘Wet Floor’ signs. Luckily, a business owners policy (BOP) includes liability protection, which covers a company’s responsibility for any harm it may cause to others. Your BOP covers medical or legal expenses resulting from an accident, like a slip or fall, which happened on your property.”

Q. What kind of income protection does a business have if it’s shut down from a fire?

A. “Most BOP’s have business interruption coverage. If your business experiences a covered loss, like a fire, water damage or another catastrophic event that requires your business to close for a period of time, the actual loss of income you experience would typically be covered during the period of restoration. Business interruption coverage also picks up any extra expenses incurred from setting up in a new location. For example, if you’re a doctor or dentist and you open a temporary office while yours is being restored, the extra expense of renting the space and buying or renting equipment would be covered in this scenario.”

Q. What can a business do to protect themselves from lawsuits related to things like wrongful termination?

A.“Many business owners policies now have Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to cover this. EPLI provides coverage for wrongful acts related to the employment process. The most typical situations are wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. It’s a security policy that pays for legal defense costs and/or any punitive damages. HIG has definitely seen our fair share of these types of claims coming from clients, so we have a discussion about EPLI coverage with anyone who has employees.”

Q. A topic that has been in the news recently is that of employee embezzlement. What can a business owner do to protect themselves from this?

A. “Many BOP’s have an option to purchase what’s known as employee dishonesty or crime coverage. This insurance coverage can protect a business owner from financial losses resulting from fraudulent acts performed by an employee such as theft, computer fraud, embezzlement, wire transfer fraud, etc. Your independent insurance agent will be able to help you determine how much of this coverage your unique business needs.

Q. Cyber Security has been top of mind for business owners for many reasons in recent months, but most recently with the WannaCry attack — what can business owners do today to protect themselves from a data breach or cyber attack?

A. “This is an enormously important topic these days with all of our business insurance clients. We recently had a client come in who had added an online purchasing option to their website. I suggested adding on data security coverage, which is an additional coverage that can be added onto your BOP, since their website was now taking credit card information. They decided to go with my recommendation and added on the coverage, which was very fortunate, because six months later they were the victim of a data breach. It’s one of those coverages where you don’t realize how important it can be until you experience a loss first hand.

Data Security Coverage protects your business if it becomes the victim of a cyber hack. One of the biggest benefits comes if you have credit card data that is stolen. This coverage will protect individual customers and your business by notifying all affected individuals and setting up credit card reporting and monitoring for each customer who is impacted, which can be a serious cost for a business to take on themselves. Business owners should know that credit card data isn’t the only thing cyber criminals are after, however. If they hack your computer system, they can also steal sensitive, personal information, like social security numbers, which is another way that this coverage can be helpful. Individuals who are impacted by your business’ data breach are eligible for identity restoration case management in addition to credit monitoring.

Data Security Coverage will also cover any damages that were done to your computer or computer systems, and includes a professional forensic IT review to research and determine any vulnerabilities in your computer system. It also covers cases of extortion, which have been happening recently like with the WannaCry ransomware attack. It’s not that expensive to add on, especially when you weigh the cost a business could face without this coverage, so we definitely advise any business that uses computers to purchase this additional coverage.”

When it comes to insuring your business, you never want to leave things to chance. A Business Owners Package is a great option for small to medium sized businesses because it combines your major property and liability risk into one comprehensive package, saving you time and money on your total insurance program. While many of the coverages we’ve discussed today are included in most BOP’s, your independent insurance agent can go over policy specifics and limits to make sure your unique business has the protection it needs.

Business owners — have more questions? An HIG representative is ready to help! Get in touch today by calling our office at 508.676.5949 or visiting our website at www.hadleyinsurit.com.

 

car insurance rates

HIG’s Guide To: Changing Car Insurance Rates

You’ve probably seen it in the news, but car insurance rates are on the rise, with all signs pointing to technology as the main culprit. In today’s highly connected world, cars are becoming more advanced with new safety features and technology. While these changes were intended to make cars safer, they also make it more expensive to repair a car when it is involved in an accident. Hence, the increase in car insurance rates in Massachusetts, even for drivers who have not been involved in a recent crash.

Here at HIG, we are breaking down why car insurance rates are going up for almost everyone and sharing a few ways to help you save on your car insurance costs to hopefully offset any changes you may see.

Cost of Fixing Cars

The cost of auto repairs have skyrocketed. There is no doubt that there have been vast safety improvements in cars over the last several years, but these changes have also affected repair costs and subsequently, insurance rates. Modern cars are more complex — made out of different materials and more parts than ever before. All of these improvements translate to labor intensive and costly repairs. Below are some of the ‘used-to-be easy’ fixes that have been impacted by newer and safer technology.

  • Bumpers

A fender-bender used to be an easy fix, maybe a few hundred dollars at most. In the past, auto technicians could simply punch out the dent — but that’s no longer the case. Many new bumpers are now a molded piece of vinyl attached to aluminum, which is designed to absorb impact and function with the crumple zone. This means that when there is damage to the bumper, it has to be completely replaced and typically with a hefty price tag, sometimes over $1,000! New bumpers also include sensors for things like backing up, collision avoidance, lane alignment, and even cruise control, further increasing repair costs.

  • Headlights

Headlights have also evolved over the last several years. In the past, many car owners were able to replace a headlight assembly themselves with a little patience and know-how. However, newer cars now use LED or HID bulbs which require different parts and expertise to replace. A typical halogen bulb would cost $15-20 on average, but HID bulbs typically cost $100 or more — and don’t forget about the cost of labor.

  • Windshield Repairs

For most insures the cost to replace a cracked or broken windshield is covered under your auto insurance policy; which is a significant saving for you. However, with new technology, the cost of repairing your windshield has increased drastically. According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, it used to cost around $350 for a simple windshield replacement. Today, those same windshields are made with higher quality glass and often contain connected sensors that can detect things like lane departures, rain, and even changes in lighting. Consequently, these advances have almost doubled the cost of repairs.

Other Factors

Technology isn’t the only thing impacting your car insurance rates — low gas prices, unemployment rates, and the technology in your hand have as well.

  • Gas Prices/Unemployment

With gas prices still relatively low and unemployment rates in Massachusetts still under 4% it may seem like a good thing, however in the insurance world, it can mean something completely different. The National Safety Council (NSC) projected that there were 3% more drivers on the road in 2016. And with more people on the road, there is an increased risk of car accidents. Combine this data with increased rates of distracted driving, and auto insurers are seeing much higher rates of auto insurance claims.

  • Distracted Driving

For the first time in history, we are dealing with a generation that learned to text before they learned how to drive. But teen drivers aren’t the only ones to blame — 36% of all drivers text and drive. With more distracted drivers on the road, we also see an increase in distracted driving accidents and fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities attributed to distracted driving increased 8.8% in 2015, reversing a long-running decline in automobile-related fatality rates. (If you’re concerned about distracted driving and want to learn tips to avoid this dangerous behavior, read our blog on Tips to End Distracted Driving.)

Technology is changing the world we live in, and here at HIG, we want to help you keep up. While we can’t stop auto insurance rates in Massachusetts from climbing, we can work to help you find a policy that fits your needs and your budget. Here are just a few discounts and coverages you should consider when assessing your car insurance options.

  • Bundling Auto & Home With The Same Insurance Carrier
  • Disappearing Deductible
  • Accident Forgiveness Multi Car Individual/Spouse
  • New Customer Discount
  • Automatic Bill Pay/Pay In Full
  • Energy-Saving Hybrids Or Electrics
  • Advanced Driver Training
  • Military Away
  • Motor Club Membership
  • New Auto Replacement Cost
  • Auto Loan/Lease Gap Coverage
  • Pet Coverage
  • A Student Away At School
  • Good Student Discount
  • Low Mileage Discount
  • Group Discounts

Not happy with your current auto insurance policy? Get in touch with us today to let us help you find a policy that fits your needs. You can reach us at (508) 676-5949 or by visiting our website.

 

A Quick Guide to Insuring Your College Student

Where did the summer go? Somehow it’s September again, which means you’re dealing with getting your kids back to school. If you have a child headed to college this year, there are so many things to think about. From course loads to housing to making sure they know how to do their own laundry, back to school season can be overwhelming for anyone. At HIG, our goal is to help you worry less, which is why we’ve laid out a few insurance tips specifically for your college kids.

Auto Insurance

Parents, did you know that your MA auto insurance policy will follow your child when they go away to school, even if they are out of state? This means they’ll be covered under your policy when riding in a friend’s car or even if they decide to drive someone else’s car. To learn more about the coverage your MA auto policy provides while your kid is away at school, get in touch with your insurance agent today.

And don’t forget to look into available insurance discounts when your student does head off to college. For example, you may qualify for a good student discount based on your child’s grades. You could also be eligible for a student away discount depending on how far away your kid’s school is. If your child will be taking a car that you own with them, make sure to call your insurance agent to inform them of this change to the garaging address.

Renters Insurance

Renters insurance is definitely something to consider for your college-bound kid. While your homeowners insurance policy will most likely cover their possessions if they are living in a campus residence like a dorm, there may be higher homeowners insurance deductibles, which can make a supplemental renters insurance policy worthwhile.

If your child decides to move off campus, they should know that they will no longer be covered under your homeowners insurance policy and should definitely invest in their own renters insurance policy, which on average costs less than a cup of coffee per week. Even if your child is living with friends, they should still consider getting their own renters insurance policy to cover their personal belongings. Check in with your insurance agent to see what makes the most sense for your child’s unique situation.

Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella insurance policies can also come in handy when you have a child in college. This additional protection will provide personal injury coverage in case they hurt someone while they are at school. It can also help cover legal expenses if you or your child is sued. Call your insurance agent to learn more about how an umbrella insurance policy can help your family.

Want to make sure your child is protected no matter where they are? HIG can help. Our insurance experts can talk you through your options to make sure your policy fits your unique needs. Give us a call at (508) 676-5949 or visit our website today to learn more.

What to Know Before Buying or Leasing a New Car

Somehow, summer always seems to fly by! Labor Day is right around the corner, and with it comes some of the best car sales of the year. Before you go to buy or lease a new car though, take a minute to brush up on our car buying insurance tips to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the seasonal sales.

What your insurance agent needs to know when you buy a new car

One of the most important steps in the car buying process is informing your insurance agent about your new purchase. In Massachusetts, approved dealerships are able to process your vehicle transaction and title application through the Electronic Vehicle Registration (EVR). With this process, your information is directly sent from an approved dealership to your insurance agent to speed up the registration and title application process for everyone. Here is some of the information that your insurance agent will need to help you when you buy a new car:

  • Is the vehicle new or pre-owned?
  • Are you buying or leasing the vehicle?
  • What make, model and year is the car?
  • Will you be transferring over an existing plate or will you need a new one?
  • What is the contact information for the dealership where you are purchasing or leasing the vehicle?

Additional auto insurance coverages for your new car

There are some new coverages available that may not have been around the last time you purchased a car. Make sure to familiarize yourself with them before heading to the dealership. In addition to the auto insurance coverages required by Massachusetts law, drivers should consider purchasing the following insurance options to ensure they have the coverage they need while they are on the road. For a full list, visit the auto insurance page on our website.

  • Lease Gap/Auto Loan Coverage: Unfortunately, from the moment you drive your new car off the lot, its value decreases. Luckily, Gap Coverage helps cover the difference between what you owe on your vehicle and its actual cash value in case you get into an accident.
  • New Auto Replacement Cost Coverage: This coverage will help you if your car is totaled in an accident; your insurance will pay to replace your car with a new vehicle of the same make and model.
  • Accident Forgiveness: Accidents are a part of life. If you qualify for this coverage, though, you can avoid rate increases related to an at-fault accident.
  • Substitute Transportation: This coverage will come in handy if your car is in the shop due to an accident. It will help cover rental car fees during this period of time, as specified by your policy.
  • Optional Bodily Injury to Others: Extend the standard liability protection on a standard MA Auto Insurance Policy, which only provides a basic limit of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident, with this additional coverage. In many cases, this basic limit is not adequate to cover expenses related to an accident.

Auto insurance discounts you should be aware of

We understand that purchasing a new vehicle, along with upkeep and maintenance, can be expensive. Which is why we always recommend looking into available discounts to help lower your insurance costs. While you may know about some of the discounts available, such as bundle insurance discounts for auto and homeowners or renters insurance policies, there are many newer discount options to take advantage of. Here are some that you should consider when purchasing your new car.

  • Multi Car Discounts
  • Good Student/Student Away at School Discounts
  • Disappearing Deductible Discounts
  • Energy Saving Hybrids or Electric Car Discounts
  • Advanced Driver Training Discounts
  • Military Away Discounts

Remember that insurance coverages may vary from company to company, so always make sure to do your research before committing to an agent.

Here at HIG, our goal is to make your life easier while letting you rest easy knowing that you’re always protected. Give us a call today at (508) 676-5949 or visit our website at hadleyinsurit.com to learn more about how we can help with your auto insurance needs.

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!

 

 

7 Types of Insurance Every Small Business Needs

When you’re a small business owner, there are a million and one things you have to worry about everyday. Having the right kind of insurance can ease some of those worries while protecting you from mishaps ranging from employee injury to fire. Here are seven types of insurance that every business owner should have.

General Liability Insurance

Regardless of what kind of business you are, you should definitely have General Liability Insurance. It will protect you, your employees, and your business against expenses related to bodily injury or property damage and covers things like legal costs and medical bills.

Worker’s Compensation

All states will require you to have Workers Compensation for all W2 employees. Worker’s Comp provides medical benefits and wage replacement for employees who are injured on the job. Employees covered by Workers Compensation give up their right to sue their employer for the accident resulting in their injury.

Data Breach Insurance

Cyber security has become one of the biggest threats companies face, and a common misconception is that hackers only target big businesses. Any type of business that handles private information, like data about clients or employees, should look into insurance to protect them against a cyber breach. A single data breach can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars — so you will definitely get your bang for your buck with this insurance.

Professional Liability Insurance

Also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance provides more specific coverage than General Liability Insurance. It protects your business in the case that you provide a client with faulty professional services and is applicable for a range of businesses.

Business Property Insurance

Business Property Insurance protects you from a variety of damages like smoke, fire, vandalism, or theft. It covers your building along with any equipment like computers, tools, or inventory you may have. Certain types of property insurance can also protect against loss of income.

Commercial Auto Insurance

If anyone in your business uses a company car, it’s important to obtain Commercial Auto Insurance. A comprehensive Commercial Auto Insurance plan will protect your business from an unexpected accident, theft or act of vandalism.

Business Owner’s Policy

A Business Owner Policy package is a great idea for small to medium sized businesses. They combine major property and liability insurance into a comprehensive policy that is tailored to your business’ specific needs.

This is a basic rundown of the types of insurance you should look into as a small business owner. You worked hard to create your business; we work hard to protect it. To get an instant quote for small business insurance, you can visit our website

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. 

 

5 Tips for a Safe and Happy Holiday

The holiday season in New England is a beautiful and festive time of year. From Christmas trees to holiday lights to family gatherings, you’ll always notice more smiles around the holidays! But there are also some safety hazards that come with food, travel, and trimmings. Decorate safely and keep your holidays merry and bright with these five holiday safety tips.

Avoid The Gift of Food Poisoning

Few things can mar a festive family dinner more than a bout of food poisoning! Keep your cooking top notch with these guidelines from U.S. Department of Health and Food Services:

  • Do not wash the turkey. The only way to kill that bacteria is to fully cook the Turkey.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on food.
  • Cook the Turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165° F.

Be Prepared For Holiday Travel

The holiday travel season carries the highest automobile fatality rate of the year. With so many cars on the road it’s important to check a few things before you leave:

  • Make sure your vehicle’s maintenance is up-to-date.
  • Keep your cell phone away. Let the passenger control the tunes.
  • Map your schedule and consider leaving earlier or later to avoid peak traffic times.

O Christmas Tree

If you’re celebrating the season with a Christmas tree, be sure to follow these basic safety tips to make sure your tree is decorative and not a fire hazard:

  • If you’re using a fake tree, be sure the label reads Fire Resistant.
  • When setting up your tree, be sure to place it away from any radiators, fireplaces, portable heaters, heat vents and televisions.
  • Cut a couple of inches off of the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This will allow the water to better absorb into the tree and keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

Light Safety

Whether you’re looking to add a decorative accent to your home or create a beacon in the neighborhood, the basics of holiday light safety are the same:

  • Only adorn your tree or home with lights that have been tested for safety by UL (Underwriters Laboratory) and marked as such.
  • Use no more than three standard-sized sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Check all of your lights before hanging them to make sure all of the bulbs are working and no wiring is exposed.
  • Check any extension cords for frayed wires and be sure they are UL approved.
  • Do not run extension cords under the carpet.
  • Do not overload outlets or multi-outlet power strips.
  • Use LED candles for ambiance rather than wax or liquid oil votive candles.
  • Be sure to turn off all Christmas lights before going to bed.

Take Time For You

It’s also important to take the time to care for your mental health during the holiday season. Relationships, family gatherings and seasonal stresses can take their toll on anyone. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a few helpful tips to keep your holiday season stress free:

  • Don’t feel pressured to “overspend” on gifts.
  • Make a plan to focus on one thing at a time.
  • Most importantly, remember the holiday season is about spending quality time with your loved ones.

The holiday season in New England is a magical time of year. Take these few basic precautions, you can make sure it’s a safe one, too.  You can find more seasonal tips and insurance news on our website or give us a call at 508-676-5949! We’d love to hear from you.

Happy holidays from HIG!

Everything You Need To Know About Ice Dams

Ice dams are a very real problem that you will most likely face if you own a home in Massachusetts. While ice can be lovely for skating, it can quickly ruin your home if you don’t take the proper precautions. Luckily, we know all about ice dams! Follow our suggestions and you can rest easy knowing that even if we see a repeat of last year’s winter, you won’t have to worry about ice dams ruining your home.

What’s An Ice Dam?
Great question! An ice dam occurs when water from melting snow runs down your roof then refreezes, causing the ice to accumulate, or “dam” in one spot. If any water gets under a shingle it will lift it up, which can often cause water to drip into your home, ruining gutters and shingles along the way. Ice dams are not your friend.

Oh No! How Do I Prevent Them?
The trick to preventing ice dams is to completely seal and insulate your attic space. Unfortunately, this usually means calling a contractor! Call a contractor now and schedule a visit ASAP before they’re booked for months. If your contractor isn’t available, or if you prefer to just do-it-yourself, it’s not that difficult! This guide from Energy Star lays out all the materials you would need and walks you through the process step by step. The sooner you can prep your home, the more quickly you can stop worrying about an ice dam!

Take Care Of Leaves
Autumn in New England is what makes winter worth it for all of us. However, all those beautiful leaves will often clog up your gutter, which can lead to more ice dams. Keep your gutters free of leaves and snow so they can actually do what they were designed for. Now is the time to buy a roof-rake to help keep your roof clear of snow. Remember, the crux of ice dam prevention is a clean roof!

It’s also important to note the importance of basic ladder safety when doing any work on the roof, particularly in the winter. Always keep your ladder away from an electrical wiring, have a spotter stabilizing the base of the ladder and always face the ladder when descending or climbing!

Dam It!
Alright, so despite your best efforts, you still got an ice dam. Don’t panic. We can fix this. Simply run down to the hardware store and grab a chemical melting agent! Avoid using rock salt. While rock salt will melt the dam, it will also likely damage your shingles and gutters. Stick with a basic melting agent like calcium chloride. All you have to do is apply the agent to the dam and you’ll be all set!

Don’t Use Fire
Always use a chemical melting agent rather than fire. While it may intuitively make sense to use some sort of fire, such as a blow torch, to remove ice dams we beg you to listen to us and simply don’t do it. Seriously, don’t do it. You are far more likely to cause a problem than to fix one when using fire in this situation.

If you own a home in New England you need to prepare for ice dams! A little money upfront to purchase the necessary preventative tools will save you a lot of money down the line. Finish winterizing your home by making sure your all of your insurance needs are up to date. Give us a call at 508-676-5949 or visit our website!