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Posts Tagged ‘Rhode Island’

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.

 

Summer Water Safety Tips

It’s time to pull out the bathing suits and sunblock — summer officially starts on June 20th! Living along the South Coast and in Rhode Island, we’re lucky to have so many amazing beaches within driving distance, making it easy to turn any day into a beach day! As your personal insurance experts, HIG’s goal is to help ensure that your summer is safe and full of fun, which is why we’ve put together some important water safety tips to keep in mind before hitting the beach.

Water Safety for Kids

Parents should pay special attention to their children when visiting the beach. Young children, especially inexperienced swimmers, should always wear a life jacket when going out into the water. It’s also important to implement a swim buddy system; never let your child go out for a swim alone, no matter how confident a swimmer they are. And make sure to keep an eye on them even when they’re not in the water! Especially on crowded beach days, it’s easy for a child to wander off and get lost in the crowd.

Sun Protection

Protect yourself from the sun by applying sunscreen about 30 minutes before you go out into the sun. Be liberal with your application; a common mistake people make when applying sunscreen is using too little. Remember to apply sunscreen to all areas that will be exposed to the sun; don’t forget your ears, the back of your neck, your scalp, and even the tops of your hands and feet (no one wants a flip flop tan line). And don’t forget to reapply, especially after going in the water! It’s a good idea to re-apply 15-30 minutes after going into the sun, and then every 2 hours or as directed on the label of your specific product.

Lifeguards

If you’re planning on swimming at the beach, make sure to choose a beach with a lifeguard on duty. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, a person’s chance of drowning while attending a beach protected by a USLA affiliated lifeguard is around 1 in 18 million. Besides being able to save you in case of an emergency, lifeguards are also able to give you important information about beach and water conditions before you head in for a dip.

Warning Flags

Before entering a beach, make sure to take note of any warning flags. In general, the flag color coding works much like a stoplight. A red flag can either indicate that the beach is closed to the public or that there are high hazards, such as high surf or strong currents. Yellow flags can indicate medium hazards, while green flags may indicate calm conditions (stop-slow-go). A blue flag can be used to indicate dangerous marine life like jellyfish or even sharks. Beaches usually have signs explaining the meaning of each flag, but if you are unsure, ask the lifeguard on duty.

Rip Current Safety

Rip currents can happen anywhere, but are especially affected by wind shifts. South-facing beaches, like Horseneck Beach in Westport, Rhode Island, commonly exhibit rip currents due to strong southwestern winds. But there are a few things you can do before you even leave the house to stay safe against rip currents. For example, the National Weather Service has a free online training course to teach you how to spot rip currents. You should also make sure to check the local surf forecast before heading out. The forecast is updated daily and displays information about the risk of rip currents along with data about the swell and water temperature. Remember, just because the weather is nice does not mean that the water is safe — rip currents can form even on days when the water seems calm.

Once you get to the beach, check for any warning flags or talk to the lifeguard on duty about swimming and water conditions, or to learn of any other potential hazards. It is important to also avoid swimming within 100 feet of piers and jetties, where permanent rip currents often exist.

If you find yourself caught in a rip current, here’s what you should do:

  • Stay calm! Don’t try to fight or swim against the current. This will not help you break free and will only tire you out.
  • It may seem counterintuitive, but instead of trying to swim towards the shore, you should swim parallel to it. Once you break free of the rip current, you can change direction and swim back to the shore.
  • If you can’t swim to the shore, try to float or tread water until you are able to break free. Wave to shore and call for help to draw attention to yourself.

If you see someone in trouble in the water, immediately alert a lifeguard or call 9-1-1. Remember, when it comes to water rescues, every second counts!

We hope these tips help you enjoy a fun and safe summer full of lazy beach days! If you’re interested in more ways that HIG can protect you and your family with our excellent personal insurance offers, visit our website or give us a call today at 508-676-5949! At HIG, keeping you safe and protected is our priority! 

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. 

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!