Massachusetts Happy Halloween 2020

Halloween 2020 Safety Tips

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. Governor Charlie Baker recently announced that, in spite of the pandemic, he would not be cancelling Massachusetts Halloween 2020 this year.

In a Salem, MA press conference he shared a letter he received from one of his young constituents:

“It was written with a crayon, but it was quite clear. It said, ‘Governor Baker, I want to thank you for not canceling Halloween. And I think the best thing you can do to make sure that people really limit their exposure to each other when they’re out is to tell everybody that they should give out one large candy bar, instead of those baskets of many small candy bars, because then kids won’t put their hands in and fish around for them.’”

In addition to this great safety tip, the Governor’s office released additional safety measures this Halloween:

  • Enjoy Halloween outside rather than attending indoor events.
  • Place candy on a platter instead of a bowl
  • Instead of traditional trick or treating, opt for one-way trick-or-treating, with treats placed outside of the home for trick-or-treaters as a “grab and go” while keeping distance from others.
  • Consider leaving hand sanitizer by any treats left out for trick-or-treaters to use.
  • Wear a face mask or face covering.  For more information on face masks and face coverings, please see the state’s Mask Up MA webpage.
    • A costume mask is not a substitute for a face mask or face covering.  To protect yourself and others, ensure you are wearing a protective face mask or covering instead of or in addition to a costume mask.
  • Observe good hand hygiene, including hand washing and use of alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.  Carry hand sanitizer and use it often, especially after coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces and before eating candy.
  • Refrain from touching your face.
  • Decorate your yard for others to enjoy from their car or while on a socially-distanced walk.
  • Hold virtual costume contests or pumpkin carving events.
  • Celebrate with members of your household with a Halloween-themed meal, Halloween movie night, or by preparing a Halloween scavenger hunt.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet of physical distance from all other participants who are not members of the same household.
  • Avoid:
    • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors, or any gatherings that exceed indoor or outdoor gathering limits;
    • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming; and
    • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
    • Indoor haunted houses and;
    • Stay home and refrain from Halloween activities, including handing out Halloween treats, if:
      • you feel unwell;
      • you have tested positive for COVID-19;
      • you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19; or
      • you have traveled to or from a state that is not classified as lower risk within the last 14 days.  For more information on lower risk states, please see the state’s COVID-19 Travel Order webpage.

On behalf of Johnson & Rohan Insurance: have a fun, safe & healthy 2020 Halloween!

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer

Did you know that the highest rate of deer collisions occurs between October and December? This is the migration and mating season for deer, so they are likely to be moving at a more frequent pace.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are one million car accidents involving deer each year in the United States, resulting in close to 200 deaths and an additional 10,000 injuries. The financial costs are also high, as deer collision damages to vehicles total upward of $1 billion in costs a year. On average, a vehicle collision with a deer will cost an insured more than $3,000 in damages. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) attributes the increase in deer-vehicle collisions to the fact that more roads are being built through wildlife habitats, which causes deer to be displaced from their natural habitat.

How to avoid becoming a statistic

  • Stay alert and look for signs: The easiest way to avoid crashes is to stay awake and aware of your surroundings while driving – a best practice in any season. Drivers should also look for signs regarding deer crossing, as studies have found that crash risk can be reduced by up to 34% when signs are posted.
  • Recognize deer patterns: You’re most likely to see a deer at dawn or at dusk, and if you do see a deer, always slow down. Deer typically travel in groups so if you see a deer crossing alone, you should wait a few minutes – more deer are likely to follow.
  • Don’t swerve to avoid a deer collision: If a crash with a deer becomes inevitable, it is better to apply the brake hard and fast rather than try to swerve in another direction; this could cause a more serious accident with another vehicle, guardrail or tree. Brake firmly, holding onto the steering wheel, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.

If you are involved in a crash, make sure to notify police officials and your insurance agency immediately. It is important to fill out the accident forms completely and accurately.

How to financially prepare for a hurricane

 

 

 

 

When you’re preparing your home for an approaching hurricane, you might go over your evacuation plan, put together an emergency kit, tightly seal the doors and windows and haul the deck furniture indoors. But what about getting your financial house in order?

As you’re scrambling to protect your home, yourself and your family, you might overlook the financial impact of a hurricane. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimates American households get walloped by $34 billion in annual losses from most types of damage caused by hurricane winds, storm surges and rainfall.

In most cases, none of the financial precautions you take “will really be necessary and the inconvenience will be limited to a few days. But it is always better to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Josh Simpson, a financial adviser at Lake Advisory Group in Lady Lake, Florida.

In light of the monetary catastrophes that a hurricane might cause, experts recommend taking these seven pre-storm steps to batten down your financial hatches.

How to prepare financially for a hurricane
1. Establish an emergency fund

Bob Castaneda, director of the master’s degree program in finance at Minneapolis-based Walden University, suggests putting money in a special savings account to take care of basics—like food and lodging—in case you’re not able to return home for a while following a hurricane. This should be done weeks, if not months, in advance of a hurricane.

The emergency fund should contain enough money to pay $60 to $70 a day in expenses for each family member, Castaneda said. At minimum, the fund should cover a week’s worth of expenses for your entire family. For a family of four, that would be roughly $1,700 to $2,000.

“From a financial perspective, an emergency fund serves as the safety net between an unexpected event and a financial crisis,” said Brian Walsh, certified financial planner and leader of the financial planning team at online lender SoFi.

2. Stash some cash

Store a small amount of cash in a secure place in your home, said April Lewis-Parks, director of education and corporate communications at Consolidated Credit, a consumer credit counseling service. This can help you overcome the inability to use your debit or credit cards at ATMs or stores during a power outage.

Financial coach Kasey Ring, president of Upward Personal Finance in Heber City, Utah, said you should stockpile enough cash to pay for at least two to three days of meals, lodging and transportation.

“Have a reasonable amount of cash on hand,” Ring said. “Storing a boatload of cash in your mattress or on your body is not advised. Your money is better protected in a federally insured banking institution.”

3. Set up electronic deposits

If you regularly receive paper checks for government benefits or other purposes, it’s wise to switch to electronic deposits before a hurricane hits to ensure you’ll have money in the bank when you desperately need it.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security notes that a hurricane can disrupt mail service for days or weeks. In addition, a paper check could be stolen from your mailbox while you’re away from home.

Each month, more than 2.7 million paper checks for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income are sent to people living in hurricane-prone states, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

4. Designate a credit card just for emergencies

Marine Federal Credit Union in Jacksonville, North Carolina, says the credit limit of your emergency-only credit card should enable you to buy enough supplies to last at least 10 days. Having a credit card solely for a hurricane or another disaster also can help track expenses that your homeowners insurance policy might reimburse.

You may want to choose an emergency credit card that delivers rewards at places like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and hotels—places you’re likely to spend money in the wake of a hurricane.

5. Get rid of ‘bad’ debt

If you live in hurricane territory, wiping out “bad” debt can put you in a better position to financially weather a storm. Of course, you’ll need to tackle this debt reduction well ahead of a hurricane that’s bearing down on your town.

SoFi’s Walsh explains that there’s “good” debt and “bad” debt. Good debt, such as a student loan or mortgage, helps boost your earning power or net worth and typically comes with low interest rates.

Meanwhile, bad debt includes balances on higher-interest credit cards and loans. This type of borrowing typically doesn’t help you achieve your long-term financial goals.

“Bad debt not only eats up your budget with costly interest payments, but it also limits your flexibility to leverage debt in the event of a financial emergency,” Walsh said.

If it consumes a big chunk of your available credit, bad debt restricts the amount of credit you can tap into after a hurricane, he said. In addition, bad debt may hinder your ability to take out a lower-interest emergency loan, as that debt might bump up your credit utilization ratio and therefore push down your credit score.

6. Collect important documents

Your critical documents should be kept in a weatherproof “grab and go” kit in case you need to evacuate ahead of a hurricane, according to Walden University’s Castaneda. These documents include insurance policies, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, passports, mortgage paperwork, tax records, wills and recent financial statements.

Experts recommend making copies of these documents as backups and saving them through a password-protected cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox.

“Depending on how bad the storm is, the hard drive on your computer—let alone your hard copies—may not survive,” warned Jim Pendergast, senior vice president of altLINE, a division of Gadsden, Alabama-based The Southern Bank Co.

7. Review your insurance coverage

Pendergast recommends scrutinizing your homeowners insurance policy to fully understand what will and will not be covered in case a hurricane damages your property. Make sure both the structure and your belongings are adequately covered. Check with your insurance company or insurance agent—before a hurricane hits—if you think your coverage isn’t sufficient.

Keep in mind that policies in hurricane-prone states typically come with either a hurricane deductible, a windstorm deductible or both.

Also important to note is that standard homeowners policies usually don’t cover flood damage; separate flood insurance is normally required. During a hurricane, flooding causes much of the property damage.

In advance of a hurricane, take photos of your household belongings to support any insurance claims you’ll file, Pendergast said. In addition, the Insurance Information Institute advises creating a complete inventory of all your possessions and their values to help speed up the claim process.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Personal Liability Umbrella Coverage

Personal Liability Umbrella Coverage

If you are at-fault in a bad accident and there’s an injury, you’re going to wish you had personal liability 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.

In an ideal insurance world, you want your liability coverage to, at least, match the amount of your assets.

Regarding retirement plans:

“Most plans that fall under ERISA act (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) cannot be touched by a creditor if you’re sued. Most 401k plans fall under ERISA. IRA’s, on the other hand, are typically not ERISA plans, and can be lost if sued.”

So, most 401K plans cannot be touched. IRA’s can be.

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

Reopening Plan: Phase 3

Phase 3

Much of Massachusetts moved to Phase 3 effective Monday, July 6, 2020. Boston requested more time and will move to Phase 3 effective Monday, July 13th.

Bars, casinos, gyms, museums and others in the entertainment and arts industries can reopen. All other business activities can resume except for nightclubs and large venues.

More recreation is allowed to restart, including youth sorts with games and tournaments, though crowd sizes will be limited.

Massachusetts has warned that not only is Phase 3 considered the riskiest of phases — it is the one we will likely be in for the longest time.

Phase 4

Effective upon the development of vaccines and treatment

Full resumption of activity in the “new normal,” including travel, all outdoor recreation and activities as well as events in large venues and nightclubs.

People will still be urged to wear face coverings, maintain physical distance and proper hygiene.

Rental Property Insurance

The Basics:

Dwelling forms are used primarily for rental property insurance. That is, property’s that are occupied, but not owner occupied. Typically properties that are one to four family dwellings.

Rental property insurance covers you from potential exposure to financial loss from unpredictable events such as: Fire, windstorm damages, vandalism of personal property, and lawsuits from an injured person. Dwelling owners can protect themselves against all of these losses by purchasing Dwelling Fire and Liability insurance.

Dwelling:

Coverage is provided for the residential dwelling, any structures attached to it, and materials and supplies on or adjacent to the location that are used for construction, alteration or repair of any structures at the described location. Coverage does not apply to land, including the land on which the dwelling is located.

Other Structures:

Coverage is provided for other structures on the described location, set apart from the dwelling by clear space. This includes structures connected to the dwelling by only a fence, utility line, or similar connection. This coverage does not apply to land, including land on which the other structures are located.

Personal Property:

A limited range of perils protects personal property usual to the occupancy as a dwelling. This coverage is not automatically provided in the Dwelling policy and must be specifically requested.

Fair Rental Value/Additional Living Expense:

Fair rental value and Additional living expense provide compensation if a covered loss renders the residence premises unusable.

Fair Rental Value means the fair rental of that part of the dwelling rented to others less any expenses that do not continue while that part of the dwelling rented or held for rental is not fit to live in.

Additional Living Expense means any necessary increase in living expenses incurred by you so that your household can maintain its normal standard of living.

Personal Liability:

This is important coverage if you or your family members are found negligent in causing bodily injury or property damage to another party that arises out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the insured premises. In that event, you have the peace of mind knowing we will pay the legal damages imposed on you and include legal defense cost if necessary.

Medical Payments:

If a visitor is injured in or around your home, we will pay for the medical expenses incurred by that person.

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July

From our family to your family: Happy July 4th!

Our office will be closed on Friday, July 3rd. 

We will re-open on Monday, July 6th.

The 4th is, traditionally, one of our favorite holidays. Family, friends, fireworks, cookouts and pool parties.

This year, of course, everything seems different.

This crazy pandemic, to some degree, has changed everything, maybe forever.

Social distancing and face masks have become the new normal.

But, perhaps, because of COVID-19, or maybe in spite of COVID-19, this 4th of July, 2020 might mean more than other 4th of Julys.

In some ways our communities have grown together in spite of the isolation. We’ve all suffered through the same virus fears, economic hardships and loss of loved ones.

Let this 4th be a reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a great country. Maybe not perfect, we have the ability, through our great democratic process, to perfect.

Maybe the “new normal” includes a greater kindness and empathy for others.

Happy 4th of July from your friends at Johnson & Rohan Insurance.

Massachusetts Reopening Plan: Four Phases

Massachusetts Reopening Plan: Four Phases

Here, as an essential business, our office has remained open throughout the pandemic. Some of us working remotely and some of us here, at our desks, masks at the ready.

When John Lennon sang “Strange days indeed,” on Nobody Told Me, he couldn’t have imagined how strange these days actually are.

Massachusetts is working on the state’s reopening plan.

Entering Phase 2 of the Massachusetts Reopening Plan: Four Phases, let’s recap:

Phase 2

Effective Monday, June 22

Retail businesses, restaurants, hotels and other personal services such as nail salons and day spas can reopen with restrictions.

Hospitals and community health centers are allowed to provide less-urgent preventative care, including teeth cleanings and certain elective procedures.

More recreation is allowed to restart, including campgrounds, playgrounds, public pools, athletic fields and courts and youth sports in a limited fashion.

Baker’s “safer-at-home” advisory is lifted, but business and recreational travel is discouraged. The limit on gatherings of 10 people could be lifted depending on the trends.

Phase 3

Effective at least three weeks after Phase 2

Bars, casinos, gyms, museums and others in the entertainment and arts industries can reopen. All other business activities can resume except for nightclubs and large venues.

More recreation is allowed to restart, including youth sorts with games and tournaments, though crowd sizes will be limited.

Phase 4

Effective upon the development of vaccines and treatment

Full resumption of activity in the “new normal,” including travel, all outdoor recreation and activities as well as events in large venues and nightclubs.

People are still urged to wear face coverings, maintain physical distance and proper hygiene.

Massachusetts Auto Insurers Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

Some auto insurers have announced rebate programs in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Johnson & Rohan Insurance writes directly with 7 auto carriers and through MAIP (Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan) writes with all the others.

In conversation with companies, it seems, they’re all likely to participate in some sort of COVID-19 rebate relief program.

As soon as companies release their plans, we will let you know what to expect from your insurer.

Some of our companies that  have released programs are Travelers, Progressive, Safety Insurance and Vermont Mutual:

Travelers Group – Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program

Personal auto insurance customers will receive a 15% credit on April and May auto premiums, expanding the company’s COVID-19 relief efforts

Insurance News Massachusetts and US Market Share

“Our customers are doing their part to stay at home and help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Alan Schnitzer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Travelers.

“Our new program recognizes their contribution to the effort we all need to make to protect our health and safety and the resulting decrease in miles driven and auto claims. We are committed to standing with our customers, agents and brokers, and this is one more step we’re taking to help ease some of the financial burden many are experiencing.”


How Travelers’ Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program works:

  • Personal auto insurance customers will receive a 15% credit on April and May auto premiums, expanding the company’s COVID-19 relief efforts;
  • Also provides billing relief for all U.S. customers, including suspending cancellation and nonrenewal of coverage due to nonpayment through May 15, 2020 (no interest, late fees or penalties will be charged);
  • Adjusting the claim inspection process to rely more heavily on state-of-the-art digital and virtual tools.
  • Conducting virtual premium audits for an extra measure of safety.
  • Providing telemedicine options for injured employees through workers’ compensation, including a temporary telerehabilitation program for those who are concerned about or unable to attend physical therapy visits in person.

Progressive’s Apron Relief Program

Extra support during the COVID-19 crisis

We hope you and your family are healthy and holding up well through the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). While COVID-19 is causing disruption in our lives and communities, we’re committed to making sure that you have the protection and support you need.

Introducing the Apron Relief Program

To us, the apron is a symbol of protection. That’s why we’re assisting our customers, employees, communities, and agents by committing over $1 Billion to them in this time of need.

To our customers

Assistance with coverage and payments

During this unprecedented time, we know you may be experiencing stress and financial hardship. While you’re doing your part to fight the pandemic, we’re committed to being there in your time of need. With that in mind, here are some steps we’re taking to make things a little easier:

Personal auto premium credit

  • If you have an active personal auto policy at the end of April, you’ll receive a credit for 20% of your April premium. We’ll offer the same 20% credit to active personal auto customers at the end of May, and we may offer additional credits in the upcoming months.
  • There’s nothing you need to do. We’ll automatically calculate your credit at the end of each month, and then you’ll see it reflected in your account within a few weeks. If you have a balance on your policy, we’ll apply the credit directly to your remaining balance. And if you’re already paid in full, we’ll return the money to the payment account we have on file—so please make sure your payment details are up to date.
  • This credit is subject to approval by state regulators.

Coverage assistance

  • We don’t want you to worry about losing your insurance if you can’t pay right now. Starting April 1, 2020, we’ll waive late fees, pause collections, and hold off on canceling or non-renewing any active policies due to non-payment through May 15, 2020. Some states have already issued leniency guidelines, so we will adjust this timeline to either meet or exceed any state-specific requirements.
  • In the meantime, automatic payments will continue to go through unless you tell us to stop them. And after May 15th, any remaining balance on your policy will become due. If you need more support, please don’t hesitate to call us—we’re happy to work with you to manage payments moving forward.

Billing leniency

  • We encourage you to make a payment right now if you’re able to. But if you need extra time, please give us a call—we’re ready to help.
  • If you’ve already requested billing leniency, please be patient with us. Our systems haven’t caught up quite yet, so you’ll continue to receive bills and your Payment Schedule may not reflect your request.

In addition to helping with payments and coverage, we are:

Supporting first responders, health care workers, and delivery personnel

First responders, health care workers, and delivery drivers are at the front lines of the crisis, and we’re doing everything we can to help by:

  • Providing expedited roadside assistance
  • Expanding coverage for personal auto customers who are temporarily delivering food or medicine
  • Offering meal delivery for our for-hire truckers
  • Providing a full-service claims experience for first responders and health care workers who experience a car accident. We’re providing transportation to work and expediting tow and vehicle repairs. And if needed, we’re deferring deductibles and providing a rental vehicle.

Helping customers get back on the road

We know finances might be tight. To help, we’re deferring deductibles for those who need a personal vehicle repaired and can’t pay out of pocket.

 

 

Safety Insurance has announced:

As a result of the financial impact that the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic is having on policyholders, we are announcing the Safety Personal Auto Relief Credit. Any Safety Insurance personal auto policyholder that has a policy in effect as of April 1st will receive a 15% credit off their premium for the months of April and May. Details of the program include:

  • Insureds must have made at least one payment on their policy and maintain continuous coverage to be eligible
  • The credits will be applied automatically, and insureds do not need to take any action
  • Policyholders that have paid in full will receive a refund
  • New business policies are eligible
  • This credit is pending regulatory approval

In addition to this credit, Safety’s previously announced initiatives remain ongoing:

Cancellation notices issued on or after March 23, 2020 have been rescinded and we have placed a hold on all non -payment policy cancellations until further notice. We have also waived all late and NSF fees.

Safety continues to provide auto coverage for customers who are now using their personal vehicles to make food deliveries as a result of changes to their business operations. As always, our staff is available to provide help and work through flexible solutions to the challenges our policyholders face.

We are making relief efforts through our Charitable Foundation to help support the communities in which we do business. We are providing financial support to the following local charities.

Massachusetts COVID -19 Relief Fund
Boston Resiliency Fund
Project Bread
Healthcare Heroes to benefit the Massachusetts General Emergency Response Fund

Safety’s thoughts remain with everyone during these difficult times and we will continue to make decisions that have the best interest of our agents, policyholders, and employees in mind. Thank you for your continued partnership and please stay safe.

Vermont Mutual:

 

With our staff safe and fully functioning in remote locations now for several weeks, our focus has shifted to an analysis of the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, along with how we can help others who have been personally impacted by the pandemic.

Like some carriers, we’ve begun to see a decrease in loss frequency in our personal lines auto book, resulting from the stay at home orders in place across our marketing territory. While it’s difficult to predict where this will settle and how quickly it will rebound, we have enough data to support an immediate refund for our customers.

On May 1st we will begin sending letters to our customers advising them that they qualify for a payback equivalent to 20% of their auto premium for 3 months. While this amount may be more than some carriers have announced, we would prefer to issue this payment once, rather than in multiple waves, but are prepared to revisit this if the frequency decrease persists longer than we anticipate.

Another area where we are approaching this differently than most is that we will provide our customers with the opportunity to donate their refund to one of several charities we have identified that have strong regional operations in New England who are assisting with local COVID-19 relief efforts. The process will work as follows:

May 1st – Mail letters to each customer explaining the payback process and identifying the amount they can expect to receive.

May 15th – Customer will have until this date to decide if they would like to have their refund paid to one of the four charities we have selected. They can do this by visiting the web address in the letter or by scanning the QR code in the letter with their smartphone, which will take them directly to our payback donation portal. The charities from which they can choose are:

  • Feeding America
  • Meals on Wheels
  • The United Way
  • The Salvation Army

May 16th – If a customer has taken no action to donate their refund, a check, or direct deposit transaction for EFT customers, will be issued to them for the amount shown in their May 1st letter.

May 20th – Donations will be made to the charities above, as directed by our customers.

In the spirit of helping others, we’ve also directed donations to local charities most in need of immediate support and will continue to explore ways to further support them and the small businesses we count on in our communities. To provide our employees with the opportunity to participate in our charitable efforts, effective immediately we are also increasing the company match of employee charitable contributions from 100% to 200%.

Please don’t hesitate to contact either of us or any member of the Vermont Mutual Team if you have any questions about our premium payback program and thanks for your continued support of Vermont Mutual.

Together we can make a difference and get through these challenging times.

Be well!

Johnson & Rohan Insurance

Governor Baker mandated that all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts shut down. Insurance agencies are considered essential services, so we are staying open.

During this unprecedented crisis, our Agency is working remotely, responding to e-mails and faxes and answering our phones.

Our Agency office however, is closed to walk-in service.

This is to protect our clients, as well as ourselves from the spread of this hideous virus.

If you need us: we’re here for you. Give us a call or send us an e-mail.

Most of all however, let’s take care of one another and stay healthy.

Sincerely,

Your Friends at Johnson & Rohan Insurance.

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