Home Insurance Claim Prevention Tips

 

If our Massachusetts pre-Halloween 2011 “trick or treat” snowstorm was any indication of the winter to come, it’s probably a good time to mention some prevention tips:

  • Maintain gutters. Removing leaves, acorns, sticks & debris from gutters so that snow & ice can drain properly can help prevent dreaded ice dams.
  • Trim trees & remove dead branches. Ice, snow & sin can cause weak trees or branches to break damaging your home, car or injuring someone.
  • Check insulation. Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. Water re-freezing causes more snow & ice to build up resulting in collapsed roofs & ice dams. Ideally, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air.
  • Keep your home warm. The temperature in your house should be at least 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is colder than the walls themselves.

MA Inspection Sticker Insurance Surcharge

 

Perhaps the cruelest of all surcharge points on the personal MA Auto Insurance Policy is the ”expired inspection sticker” citation.

A ticket for an expired vehicle inspection sticker is the equivalent, in auto insurance citation points, of a moving violation.

According to the MA Department of Insurance:

Surcharge points are incurred if you:

  • cause an at-fault accident
  • are convicted of or pay a fine for a traffic law violation
  • are assigned to an alcohol education program

An expired inspection sticker is considered “pay(ing) a fine for a traffic law violation.”

A $40 ticket results increased insurance costs for 6 years! About 20% increase the first three years, diminshing the following three .

Remember to:  check your inspection sticker!

What To Do If In An Auto Accident:

  • Stop. Be Courteous. Stay Calm. Your interest will be served best if you are courteous and engage in no controversy at the scene of the accident.
  • If there is significant damage to any of the vehicles or any potential injuries call 911 immediately.
  • Get the names of the owners and drivers involved. Get license numbers, telephone numbers, and registration numbers.
  • Get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of witnesses.
  • Express no opinion as to who was at fault. Give no information except for as required by the authorities. Do not sign any statements unless required by authorities.
  • Report the claim promptly to Johnson & Rohan Insurance.

If during off hours, you can Report a Claim 24 hours per day/ 7 days per week.

Have your policy number ready and call:

Premier/Travelers  1-877-425-2466

Safety Insurance  1-866-906-5016

Vermont Mutual  1-800-435-0397

MPIUA  1-800-392-6108

You can also click on our Report a Claim button on our home page and report to us online.

Return Your Plates Online!

Did you know the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles allows MA consumers to cancel your auto registration (plates) online?

In order to cancel your MA auto insurance, you must first cancel your registration.

You can either bring your plates to your local Registry of Motor Vehicles branch, mail or drop off the plates to your agent, or you can cancel them online at:

https://secure.rmv.state.ma.us/PlateReturn/intro.aspx\

In order to cancel them you will need: an e-mail address, your Plate type & Plate number, your license number, & the last four digits of your social security number.

Once you have cancelled your MA plates, you will want to notify your MA insurance agent & provide a copy of your Plate Return Receipt.

Let’s Review: Property Damage Coverage

Part 4 of the Massachusetts Auto Policy is Property Damage Coverage.

The Policy contract reads:

Part 4. Damage to Someone Else’s Property

Under this Part, we (the insurance company) will pay damages to someone else whose auto or other property is damaged in an accident. The damages we will pay are the amounts that person is legally entitled to collect for property damage through a court judgment or settlement. We will pay only if you (named insured) or a household member is legally responsible for the accident. We will also pay if someone else using your auto with your consent is legally responsible for the accident. Damages include any applicable sales tax and the costs resulting from the loss of use of the damage property.

We (the insurance company) will not pay for property damage which occurs:

1. While your auto is being used as a public or livery conveyance. This does not apply to the use of your auto in a share-the-expense car pool arrangement or in an expense reimbursement program wither as a volunteer or at work.

2. While any auto is being used by anyone in the course of his or her employment in the business of selling, servicing, repairing or parking autos. This exclusion does not apply to the ownership, maintenance or use of your auto by you or a household member.

3. While anyone is using a vehicle in the course of any business other than the business of selling, servicing, repairing or perking autos. This exclusion does not apply to private passenger autos or to pic-up trucks, vans or similar vehicles not used for the delivery or transportation of goods or materials unless such use is incidental to your business of installing, maintaining, or repairing furnishings or equipment.

4. While a household member, other than your spouse, is using an auto which you or any household member owns or uses regularly unless a premium for this Part is shown for that auto on the Coverage Selections Page.

5. While you or your spouse, if a household member, is using an auto which you or your spouse, if a household member, owns or uses regularly unless a premium for this Part is shown for that auto on the Coverage Selections Page.

6. To an auto or other property owned by you or the legally responsible person. Similarly, we will not pay for damage to an auto or other property, except for a private residence or garage, which you or the legally responsible person rents or has in his or her care.

7. When the property damage is caused by anyone using an auto without the consent of the owner.

The most we will pay for damage resulting from any one accident is shown on the Coverage Selections Page. This is the most we will pay as the result of a single accident no matter how many autos or premiums are shown on the Coverage Selections Page.

If someone covered under this Part is using an auto he or she does not own at the time of the accident, the owner’s auto insurance must pay its limit before we pay. Then, we will pay for any damages not paid by that insurance, up to the policy limit shown on the Coverage Selections page. However, if the claim is covered by us and another auto policy, we will pay only our proportionate share of those damages not paid by the owner’s auto insurance.

Under this Part, we may have ot pay for property damage even if youor the legally responsible person fails to give us prompt notice of the accident. In that case we may be entitled to reimbursement from that person.

This Part is Compulsory. You must have limits of at least $5,000. However, you may want to buy more protection. Higher limits may be purchased if agreed upon by you and by us. However, $5,000 is the most we will pay for property damage caused by an auto covered under this Part which is being operated in any prearranged or organized racing, speed, stunting or demolition contest or activity or in practice or preparation for any such contest or activity.

Most of our clients at Johnson & Rohan Insurance carry Part 4 limits of $100,000 per accident. More and more are electing to buy, $200,000.

Driving next to a BMW car transport truck on Route 128 the other day, I was reminded that $100,000 may not be adequate coverage.

The annual cost to increase Part 4, Property Damage, coverage from $100,000 to $200,000 is about $7.

Conversely, the annual savings, going from $100,000 down to $50,000 of coverage is about -$5.

Call Johnson & Rohan Insurance to review your coverage today!

MA Motorcycle Insurance Settlements

The MA Attorney General’s office has settled with 15 MA auto insurance companies regarding insurance companies overcharging consumers by using undepreciated motorcycle values to calculate insurance premiums.  The settlements require companies to collectively return nearly $40 million to thousands of MA motorcycle insurance policy owners. 

If you were insured with any of the following companies:

  • American Automobile Insurance (aka Fireman’s Fund)
  • Arbella
  • Electric Insurance 
  • Hanover 
  • Liberty Mutual 
  • Metropolitan 
  • NGM Insurance
  • Norfolk & Dedham
  • OneBeacon (aka Mass. Homeland)
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Pilgrim Insurance
  • Premier (aka Travelers)
  • Quincy Mutual
  • Safety Insurance
  • USAA

To look up your refund please visit:  Attorney General’s Motorcycle Insurance Refund Lookup Website.

http://www.motorcycle.ago.state.ma.us

Please note: you will need your motorcycle insurance policy number(s) in order to use this website.

Excise Tax

In an attempt to de-mystify the annual, pesky excise tax we offer the following excise tax information:

Excise bills are prepared by the RMV according to information on the registration. They are sent to city/town assessors who commit them to local tax collectors for distribution.

The excise tax rate is $25 per $1,000 of valuation (NADA) subject to the following percentage formula:

In the model year: 90%; second year: 60%; third year: 40%; fourth year: 25%; fifth year & beyond: 10%.

If you have turned in your plates on the vehicle you are getting excise taxed on, or if you have transferred plates and got rid of the vehicle, you may be eligible for abatement . Abatement instructions are located on your excise tax bill.

“Let’s not get the insurance companies involved …”

At small fender bender times, it’s a common request: “Let’s not get the insurance companies involved.”

But is it a good idea?

Our general rule of thumb is: No. Report the claim to the insurance companies and let them handle it. That’s why you have the insurance.

Many times, the person suggesting he pay out of pocket, in an attempt to avoid a MA state insurance surcharge, doesn’t realize the amount of actual damage. Often times people will go the body shop, get the estimate, and rather than there being $300 the damage is $1,000. The person that did the hitting, aghast, will then ask to go through insurance.

Another thing to keep in mind with Massachusetts insurance surcharges: if the insurance company (-ies) pay out less than $500, then there is no surcharge.

If you have any questions, either before or after an accident happens … call Johnson & Rohan Insurance at 781-224-0909. We’re here to help.

Fall Newsletter Preview

Hard to believe this Friday, September 23rd is the first day of autumn.

Here at the office, we’re putting the finishing touches on our Fall 2011 newsletter.

So, hold onto your hats, or check your mailbox, or let us know if you would like us to advance e-mail you a copy.

Some pre-edited topics include:

The Value of Your Independent Agent

Discount Program Review

Accident Forgiveness & Disappearing Deductible

Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Protection

Did you know?

We’re on facebook!

Accident Forgiveness & Disappearing Deductible endorsement-

Two of the new, widely asked-about products offered by some auto insurance companies in Massachusetts are:

Accident Forgiveness – For a fee, some auto insurance companies in MA will include an ”Accident Forgiveness” endorsement. So, if you get in a future at-fault auto accident, your auto insurance company will not apply a surcharge to your policy renewal. Some companies require you to be a “99” driver in order to qualify.

Disappearing Deductible – For a fee, some MA auto insurance companies offer a “Disappearing Deductible” program. This endorsement usually credits your Collision deductible – $100 for each year you go at-fault accident free; up to a maximum -$500 credit. Some companies require you to be a “99” or “98” driver to qualify.

Both auto insurance endorsements can save MA drivers money if in a future, at-fault accident.

Please call (or e-mail) us with any questions or to discuss.