The Big Freeze

 

Old Man Winter is right around the corner and so are the dreaded: Frozen Pipe Claims!

According to The Insurance Journal:  “weather incidents account for more than half of all homeowners insurance claims, with wind, pipes freezing and bursting, roof and flashing leaks and ice dams among the major causes of home damage during weather events.”

On extremely cold days, take the following precautions to help prevent freezing pipes and resulting water damage:

To Help Prevent The Big Freeze:
  • Maintain higher than normal temperatures (65 degrees +).
  • Turn on your faucets and let the water trickle constantly.
  • Open cabinet doors under the sinks. This will allow the heat to warm the pipes.
  • Insulate pipes. Insulation goes a long way toward preventing freeze ups.
  • Your exterior faucets used for your garden hoses should be shut off from inside your basement and left open (even if you have freeze-proof sill cocks).

Contact Johnson & Rohan Insurance with any questions or if you would like to discuss.

Thank you for insuring with us.

Home Insurance and Dogs

Home insurance and dogs

What’s the deal with home insurance and dogs? There are over 4.5 million dog bites each year. These dog bites account for almost 25% of annual homeowner insurance liability claims. If you are a dog owner who’s in the market for a homeowner insurance policy, you should know what you might be up against.

What’s the deal with home insurance and dogs?

Certain breeds may exclude you from coverage in the voluntary market. These breeds include (but are not limited to): Akita, Cane Corso, Chow, Doberman, German Sheperd, Mastiff, Pit Bull, Ridgeback, Rottweiler, and Wolf Hybrid.

Any dog with a past history of biting will exclude the owner from voluntary market coverage.

What’s the deal with home insurance and dogs? No dog owner wants their dog biting friends or family, so here are some suggestions from professional dog trainers.

*Consider dog breeds carefully prior to selecting your new pet.  Some breeds are more aggressive than others.  You can even ask your insurance agent about a list of breeds that are problems for insurance companies.

*Spay or neuter the animal, as this often decreases the aggressiveness of dogs.

*Seek a veterinarian’s advice quickly if your dog starts to become aggressive.

*Socialize your dog from an early age to encourage appropriate behavior.

*Never leave dogs alone with small children.

*Avoid aggressive games with puppies and dogs- tug of war, wrestling.

*Don’t put dogs in situations where they can feel threatened or teased.

*Train your dog to obey commands.

Ice Dam Prevention

Claims are no fun.

One of the most common and repetitive causes of property damage to building interiors is water damage resulting from the formation of ice dams on roofs.

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents the water produced by melting snow from draining off the roof.

The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home causing damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation.

While ice dams can develop as a result of multiple factors, the most fundamental causes are:

  • Heat leakage from the interior of the building into attic or loft areas that warms the middle and upper areas of roof decks (see causes of heat leakage below).
  • Snow accumulation on the roof surface which provides the potential for snow melt and re-freezing in the form of an ice dam. This problem can be amplified by lower pitched roofs.
  • Sustained exterior temperatures below 32 degrees which creates conditions under which snow melt water will re-freeze at the eave level of the roof.

Heat leakage can result from any number of factors common to residential properties:

  • An insufficient layer of insulation in the ceiling assembly below the attic or loft area as well as un-insulated or poorly insulated exterior walls.
  • Improperly insulated recessed ceiling lighting fixtures.
  • Improperly sealed and insulated ventilation fans, heating and air conditioning ducts and plumbing vent stacks.

Strategies for avoiding water damage from ice dams take two forms; those that are intended to prevent the formation of ice dams and those that are designed to provide a reliable means for roof surface snow melt water to drain off the roof to prevent water accumulation behind the ice dam.

Prevent the Formation of Ice Dams
  • Provide soffit and ridge ventilation to create and sustain a flow of cold air along the bottom surface of the roof deck.
  • Increase the thickness of insulation in the ceiling assembly below the attic or loft area.

Winter Driving Tips

 

 

Winter Driving Tips by Johnson & Rohan Insurance

As much as we hate to admit it, if it isn’t here already, winter driving is right around the corner.

Tips to keep in mind when driving in winter conditions:

Be prepared.  Have your mechanic check your car’s battery, brakes, fluid levels and tire wear.  Keep your gas tank more than half full- it lowers the chance of freezing and you’ll also avoid running out of gas if your stuck in a traffic jam on 128.

Take care in pulling out.  Your car reacts differently to accelerating on snow, make sure there is plenty of time/space to get your car up to speed.  Remember other vehicles may have trouble braking because of the conditions.

Back your car into the driveway when possible.  You’ll have better vision when pulling out.

Be aware of walkers or joggers on the street. When sidewalks are impassable, die hard joggers and dog walkers are forced to venture onto the street for a clearer path.   Keep an eye out for them!

When waiting to make a left hand turn, keep the wheels of your car pointed forward.  If your wheels are turned to the left and you are rear-ended, your car will be pushed into the path of on-coming traffic.

Braking.  If your car does not have anti-lock brakes and you start to skid, pump the brakes to gain control of the skidding.  If your car has anti-lock brakes, slam and hold down the brakes to allow the anti-lock system to take over.

When you must travel during a storm, notify others of your estimated time of arrival and your intended route.

If stuck, stay in the car and wait for help.  Run the engine and heater sparingly.  Also make your exhaust pipe is clear from snow and ventilate your car to prevent carbon monoxide build up.

If stuck in a storm, preserve your energy.  Have food (energy bars, trail mix, beef jerky) in your car.   They will provide your body with energy to produce its own heat.  Have water available to prevent dehydration.  Don’t eat snow, it lowers your body temperature- if necessary, melt it first.

Prepare a Winter Driving Kit and leave it in your trunk.  Your kit should include an extra pair of gloves, blankets, an ice scraper, food basics (energy bars, trail mix or beef jerky work well), water or energy drink.  An affordable car battery- air compressor can provide a battery charge or refill a flat tire.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

This year, it seems Thanksgiving has arrived even earlier than in years past. With that we would like to offer a special greeting of Thanksgiving to express to you, our clients, our appreciation for your confidence and loyalty.

We are thankful for all our clients and wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day!

Thank you for insuring with us.

Our office will be closed on Thursday & Friday, November 22 & 23rd but opening on Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 9:00 am.

If, in the meantime, you need to report a claim during off hours you can do so directly, have your policy number ready and call:

Premier/Travelers: 1-877-425-2466
Safety Insurance: 866-906-5016
Vermont Mutual: 1-800-435-0397
Commerce/MAPFRE Insurance: 800-221-1605
Arbella Insurance: 1-800-272-3552
MPIUA: 1-800-392-6108

Swyfft Insurance: 1-855-479-9338
Progressive: 1-800-776-4737

Personal Liability Umbrella

If you are at-fault in a bad accident and there’s an injury, you’re going to wish you have umbrella coverage.

A Personal Liability Umbrella Policy “sits-over” your home and auto liability limits. Coverage limits start at $1,000,000 and provides you protection from lawsuits.

Coverage is relatively inexpensive to purchase. $1,000,000 of coverage sitting over two autos and a home would cost about $200 annually.

Umbrella Policies require underlying motor vehicle liability limits of $250,000 per person/ $500,000 per accident.

In addition to coverage limits, insurance companies provide legal defense.

So, in essence, when you purchase higher limits you are also purchasing improved legal defense.

Umbrella Insurance protects your assets. If you don’t have an umbrella policy, you should. It’s an important part of one’s financial portfolio.

Please call or click if you would like to discuss Personal Liability Umbrella Coverage.

Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report

Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report(1)

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has updated their website (again) which is probably, mostly a good thing but can make finding certain documents more difficult to find than in the past. The result being broken links.

Following is a link to our Commonwealth of Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crash Report.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles requires a State Crash Operator Form needs to be filled out when:

  • any person was killed
  • any person was injured
  • there was damage in excess of $1,000 to any one vehicle or other property

Stipulations: Report with the Registrar within 5 days after such crash (unless the person is physically incapable of doing so due to incapacity). The person completing the report must also send a copy of the report to the police department having jurisdiction on the way where the crash occurred. If the operator is incapacitated but is not the vehicle’s owner, the owner is required to file the crash report within the 5 days based on his/her knowledge and information obtained about the crash. The Registrar may require the owner or operator to supplement the report and he/she can revoke or suspend the license of any person violating any provision of this legal requirement. A police department is required to accept a report filed by an owner or operator whose vehicle has been damaged in a crash in which another person unlawfully left the scene even if damage to the vehicle does not exceed $1,000.

Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report(1)

Have You Ever Bought a Lemon?

The Lemon Law

Massachusetts Lemon Law:

The Massachusetts Lemon Aid Law (Massachusetts Lemon Law) allows you to void or cancel a motor vehicle contract or sale if your vehicle fails to pass inspection within seven days from the date of sale AND if the estimated costs of repairs of emissions or safety related defects exceed 10% of the purchase price. ( M.G.L. c. 90 §7N) This law applies to both dealer and private party sales of cars and motorcycles purchased for personal or family use. Dealers must display your Lemon Aid rights by putting a sticker on the left front window of each used car at the time of delivery.

Vehicle Inspection And Registration Requirements

By law, sellers of used vehicles must remove inspection stickers prior to transferring the vehicle to the new owner. Motor vehicle inspection stickers are not transferable to a new owner. When you buy a used car, you must bring the car to a licensed Massachusetts Inspection Station within seven days of registering it. In order to be protected by the Lemon Aid Law, however, you will need to have it inspected within seven days of purchase. For your own protection, do not allow the dealer to do the inspection for you.

If Your Car Will Not Run

Cars that do not run automatically fail inspection. To be eligible for a refund under the Massachusetts Lemon Law, you must demonstrate that the estimated cost of repairs for safety or emissions related defects (and not the problem that is keeping the car from being inspected) is more than 10% of purchase price. Proving this may be difficult because it requires that a mechanic locate the problems and estimate the cost of repairs for these defects.

How To Receive Your Refund

In order to obtain a refund, the vehicle must be inspected and rejected by a licensed Massachusetts Inspection Station within 7 days of purchasing it. The rejection cannot be caused by your negligence, abuse or an accident occurring after the date of sale. In addition, you must complete all of the following steps within 14 days from the date of sale:

  1. Get a written statement, signed by an authorized agent of the inspection station, stating the reasons why the vehicle failed to pass the safety or combined safety and emissions inspection test.
  2. Obtain a written estimate of the costs of the necessary emissions or safety repairs showing that those costs exceed 10% of the purchase price.
  3. Notify the seller of your intention to void the contract under this statute ( M.G.L. c. 90, §7N). Do this by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail. Enclose a copy of the documents listed in Steps 1 and 2. Be sure to save copies for your files.
  4. Deliver the car to the seller, even if delivery requires towing services. It is advisable to take a witness with you and copies of the documents listed in Steps 1, 2, and 3. If the seller refuses to accept the car, prepare a statement indicating that you and a witness delivered the car to the seller on that date, but that the seller refused to accept the car. Be sure the statement is signed by both you and your witness in the presence of a notary public.

If you comply with these provisions, you are entitled to a full refund of the purchase price. You and the seller may agree in writing to have the seller do the necessary emissions or safety-related repairs at the seller’s expense. You may, however, refuse the seller’s offer and accept a full refund.

If You Paid For a Title

Contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles Title Division at (617) 351-9550. Explain that you are returning the vehicle to the seller under the Lemon Aid Law, and that you are requesting that a certificate of title be issued to you as soon as possible. When you receive the title, you should assign and transfer it back to the seller. If the seller refuses to accept the title, then send it by certified mail and retain a copy for your records.

If You Paid Sales Tax and Registration Fees

Take the following steps immediately to ensure you receive a rebate:

Sales Tax: Fill out an abatement form available from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Taxpayer Service Division, P.O. Box 7010, Boston, MA 02204, (617) 887-6367.

Registration Fee: If you return your license plates within 10 days from the date you registered your car, you will receive a refund less a charge of $5. If you return your plates after this 10-day period, but within a “reasonable time,” you will receive a partial rebate.

Asserting Your Rights

If you followed all of the above steps and the seller does not refund your money, you should explore the following options:

Mediation:
Mediation is an inexpensive and informal way to resolve your dispute without hiring an attorney and going to court. Contact the Attorney General’s Office for mediation services.

Court Action:
You may also pursue your claim through the court system. For claims under $7,000, small claims court may be the least costly alternative. Consumer Affairs publishes a Consumer’s Guide to Small Claims Court available upon request. Larger claims may be more suitable to District or Superior Court. You should seek legal advice for all claims.

Other Rights and Remedies

If you do not qualify for a refund under the Lemon Aid Law, other laws and regulations may protect you. Unless otherwise noted, these laws do not apply to private party sales.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability:
In addition to any express written warranties given by the dealer, you are also protected by an Implied Warranty of Merchantability. This implied warranty is automatic with every car sold by a dealer. The dealer warranties that the car is safe and in running condition for at least a reasonable period of time. Consider such factors as the price paid, the car’s age, make, model and mileage to help you determine what problems the dealer should be required to fix.

You cannot waive the implied warranty of merchantability. This means that a dealer cannot sell cars “as is,” “with all faults,” or with a “50/50” warranty.

Odometer Law:
The law prohibits both dealers and private party sellers from turning back or readjusting the odometer or mileage indicator on any automobile offered for sale.

Title Requirements:
All vehicles must have a certificate of title issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles and must be properly endorsed at the time of sale. The dealer must inform you, on request, of the name and address of the prior owner of a car.

Used Vehicle Warranty Law:
Dealers must provide a written warranty to buyers who purchase a used vehicle with fewer than 125,000 miles at a purchase price of $700 or more. The law requires dealers to repair use or safety defects for either 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the mileage of the vehicle. It also allows consumers to obtain a refund if during the warranty period they attempted to have the vehicle repaired three times for the same defect, or if the car has been out of service for repairs for at least 11 business days, and the defects still exist.

Private Party Sales:
In addition to the Lemon Aid Law requirements, a private party who sells a consumer a used vehicle must tell the buyer about any known use or safety defects. If the buyer discovers a defect which impairs the safety or substantially impairs the use of the vehicle, and can prove the seller knew about it, then the buyer can return the vehicle within 30 days of purchase. Private parties are bound by this law, regardless of the age or selling price of the vehicle.

Sources of Help

For General Information:
Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
(617) 973-8787 or Toll Free: (888) 283-3757

Title Information:
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Title Division
(617) 351-9550

To file a complaint against a dealer:
The Office of the Attorney General
(617) 727-8400

Automobile consumers are protected by laws covering those who purchase vehicles in Massachusetts that are found to have significant defects. These free programs offer an additional level of protection for consumers who purchase cars that fail to function as required by law. If you have recently purchased a defective vehicle, follow this simple tool to determine if your vehicle is eligible for Massachusetts’ Lemon Law, Lemon Aid Law, or Used Vehicle Warranty Law.

You must be able to demonstrate that the defects must substantially impair the use, market-value or safety of the vehicle. For example, to prove market value impairment, you must show you vehicle is worth at least 10% less than is would be without the defect.

If the vehicle fails inspection and you’re within seven days

If the vehicle fails inspection, it may be eligible for Lemon Aid, however you must act quickly. Please contact our Office at 888-283-3757 for more information.

Over seven days: The vehicle is not eligible for Massachusetts Lemon Aid Law, but it may be eligible for the Used Vehicle Warranty Law.

Johnson & Rohan