Floods and Hurricanes Can Happen Anywhere… Even Here

Protect Yourself with Flood Insurance

Over the past few weeks, we have all witnessed the devastation and destruction that a hurricane can bring. Residents of Houston are still recovering from the deluge resulting from Hurricane Harvey, and property owners in Florida are trying to evaluate their losses after Hurricane Irma.  Unfortunately, many of these individuals and business owners are going to find out the hard way that their insurance simply will not cover all the resulting damage.

According to a report in USA Today, 80% of Hurricane Harvey victims do not have flood insurance. Therefore, any family or business with this type of damage to their building or contents will have to go out of pocket to restore things. In many cases, this will cause financial ruin.  In fact, Robert Hunter, Director of Insurance at the Consumer Federation of America, reports that only two of ten homeowners devastated by Hurricane Harvey have flood insurance coverage.

Obviously evaluating your insurance needs after a loss is not the best time and relying on your lender to tell you whether you need flood insurance coverage is simply not a good way to manage risk.  Flash back to the spring floods of 2010 to remember the local devastation that occurred after several days of heavy rain in Rhode Island.  It has happened before and it will certainly occur again.

Some important facts to understand about flood insurance:

– Flooding does occur outside of ‘high-risk’ areas and insurance is available in these areas at a greatly reduced cost even if your mortgage company does not require it.

– You cannot purchase flood insurance right before the storm is coming.  There is typically a 14 or 30 day waiting period with flood insurance unless you are closing on a loan and it’s required.

– There are many private flood insurance options available for homeowners and business owners that are reducing costs and offering improved coverage.

At OceanPoint Insurance, we strive to design customized, complete insurance packages to protect you against catastrophic loss. With the tremendous damage resulting from the most recent hurricanes, and with more forecasted for the season, now is the time to give us a call to review your options and understand ways we can reduce your risk of loss.

Please contact us at 847-5200 or info@oceanpointins.com to discuss your concerns with one of our agents.

Keep Your College Student Protected

As your child goes off to college, you want to make sure they stay safe and protected while they are away. The best way to ensure their safety is to secure the proper insurance coverage.

When students head off to college, many parents often view this as an opportunity to save money by reducing their levels of insurance protection. Here at OceanPoint, we believe it is our responsibility to educate you on how to best safeguard your family. Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere and we want to help you avoid financial loss. If your child is away at school, keeping them on your auto insurance, even if they do not have access to a car, is a wise decision to avoid any uncovered liability claims.

Our agents can help you prepare for the unexpected. Be sure to schedule an appointment with us to discuss the many ways you can keep your child insured, but also remain within your budget. Many insurers often make accommodations for college students. It is important to make sure that the new laptop or television you purchased for their dorm room are all protected. If any of these items were stolen or damaged, it would be very expensive to replace. We recommend that you review your homeowner’s policy with one of our agents to ensure it extends to coverage on their personal items.

If you have any questions regarding insurance for your college student, please feel free to give OceanPoint Insurance a call at 401-847-5200.

 

10 Things Consumers Don’t Typically Know or Understand About Homeowner’s Insurance

Consumer Reports published an article recently about what consumers should know and understand about protecting their largest asset. We at OceanPoint Insurance want to make sure all our customers are clear on every aspect of their homeowner’s insurance.

You May Be Paying Too Much: When it comes to shopping for homeowner’s insurance, a Trusted Choice independent agent from OceanPoint is the way to go. A Trusted Choice  agent can help you shop around and find the best price for you. Reviewing your policy every few years is also a great way to make sure you are paying the right price.

You May Not Have Enough Coverage: Factors such as rising labor and construction costs, and home remodels or additions can increase the amount of coverage needed. Be sure to talk to your agent to update your policy, because ou can never be too covered.

Don’t Worry Too Much About Filing a Small Claim: Talk to your agent about how much your premium would go up and for how long should you file a small claim. If the claim payout is higher than the annual surcharge multiplied by the number of years it would be in effect, then it might be beneficial to file the claim.

Consider Flood Insurance Even If You Don’t Live on the Water: You can never be too prepared for the unexpected. Talk to your agent to look at prices for flood insurance policies. Regularly inspect your home for any leaks or cracks to be sure your home is watertight.

Animal Damage May Not Be Covered: The more damage an animal can do, the more likely it is covered. Smaller vermin (rats, bats, raccoons) are not usually covered. Talk to your agent about what you can do, and be sure to inspect your home for any entryways that vermin could use.

The Larger Your Claim, the More You’ll Need to Document: Documenting your claim well by taking photos or videos and getting written estimates done can help you get the money you need in the time of an unfortunate incident. We at OceanPoint can help you get the right amount to restore your home back to the way it was before the claim.

Your Credit History Will Affect Your Rates: Ask your agent for a copy of your credit-based insurance score and work on trying to improve it if it needs work.  You can also ask your agent to work with you and check in on your score every year.

The Things You Love Most May Not Be Covered: For jewelry, furs, and fine art, you need extra protection called a “floater,” a separate policy with a zero deductible that covers accidental loss. For tech and sports equipment, you may need separate coverage. Talk to you OceanPoint Insurance agent about getting the coverage you need.

Cosmetic Hail Damage May Not Be Covered: Work with your agent to find a policy endorsement to cover cosmetic hail damage. Structural damage should be covered under your current policy.

Renters Still Need Insurance: More and more landlords are requiring renters’ insurance to cover all your valuables within a property. Renters should buy the coverage they need which is usually $12 to $20 per month.

 

Talk to your OceanPoint Insurance Agent for any other questions on Home Insurance at 401-847-5200.

Be Prepared in Advance of a Hurricane

With hurricane season in full swing, your friends at OceanPoint would like to remind you of the importance of being prepared.

According to the Weather Channel, the number of hurricanes and tropical storms begins to increase slowly through July and then rises in August, peaking in September. However, despite these statistics, there is no way of predicting exactly when these natural disasters will strike. Among the biggest hurricanes the Northeast has experienced, Irene and Katrina arrived in August, Earl in September, and Sandy hit in October just 5 years ago.

To safeguard your home from the next big hurricane, please consider the following:
  • Review the limits of your current policy. Remember, the real estate value of a house is not the same as the cost to rebuild.
  • Research what disasters are covered by your existing policy. Be sure you are covered in the event of a hurricane.
  • Examine your current policy to see if you need to add flood insurance. This specialty insurance is a necessity for coastal properties.
  • Complete a home inventory. Keeping a record of your possessions, including receipts and photos when possible, will help make the claims process much easier.
  • Secure your home. Repair loose boards, shingles, shutters, downspouts, etc. If you live near the coast, purchase and store materials you may need to board up windows.
  • Assemble a Basic Disaster Supply Kit. Include water, non-perishable food, crank radio, flashlight, first aid kit, whistle, portable chargers, and a wrench for shutting off utilities.

In several states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, insurance companies offer a special deductible for hurricane damage. A hurricane deductible applies to damage caused solely from a hurricane as categorized by the National Weather Service.

While hurricane deductibles are not mandatory, many insurers require them as a condition for coverage near the coast. As an agency that provides homeowners insurance to many coastal homes, OceanPoint also represents carriers who specialize in coastal coverage that do not require hurricane deductibles.

For more information on hurricane deductibles, or if you have any questions about your homeowners’ policy, please call OceanPoint Insurance at 401.847.5200.

Insure Your Summer Fun with OceanPoint

With summer finally upon us, many families are taking to the outdoors. No matter where your summer adventures take you, OceanPoint Insurance would like to remind you of the importance of reviewing your current insurance policies. To ensure they are providing the levels of protection you need, we encourage you to talk with your OceanPoint agent to make certain you are properly insured.

Summer Toys:

Most people understand the need for RV and motorcycle insurance, but did you know that recreational vehicles also require insurance? Take a look at the different vehicle coverage we at OceanPoint have available:

  • Jet Skis: Jet Ski insurance, though not legally mandatory, is simply a good idea due to the risks of the sport. Factors like hidden rocks or busy motorways put drivers at risk.
  • Motorcycles: Liability insurance is mandatory in RI and pays for damages or injuries you cause in an accident, as well as your legal defense if needed.
  • ATV’s: ATV insurance provides the coverage you need specifically for off-roading. Your policy will cover damage or injuries from an ATV accident, up to the limits of your policy.
  • Boats/Yachts: If you enjoy fishing, sailing, yachting, or cruising around on a powerboat, make sure you have boat insurance that covers your liability risk as well as your watercraft, equipment and passengers.
  • Motorhomes: Motorhome liability insurance is mandatory in RI and will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after an accident. Whether you are heading down the coast or traveling north to the mountains, be sure you are covered.
Summer Parties:

Before you host your next graduation party, cocktail party, or backyard barbeque, be sure to protect yourself and your guests. Listed below are some tips for keeping your summer party safe and avoiding claims on your homeowner’s insurance:

  • Before a party, take the time to make sure your yard (or party area) is free of uneven patches of ground, mounds and holes, and that entryways are clear of tripping hazards.
  • If you have a fire pit, be sure it is at least 10 feet away from any structure or combustible surface.
  • Always have a container of water nearby and a garden hose on standby before starting a fire.
  • Check gas grill hoses to ensure they’re not blocked, cracked or damaged before use.
  • Operate your barbecue on a level surface, away from your house, garage and landscaping. Never move the grill once it is lit.
  • Make sure no one swims alone. Never leave a child unattended in the water or pool area, and see that less experienced swimmers are always accompanied by a swimmer who has water life-saving skills.

To fully enjoy all your summer fun, make sure you have the insurance protection you need. If you have questions about your insurance policy call OceanPoint Insurance at 401.847.5200.

Listing Your Home Through Airbnb? Make Certain You Are Properly Insured

shutterstock_73089742Many people have taken advantage of the global popularity of websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway to list their home as rental property. If you do not reside in the property full-time, offering it as a vacation rental is a quick and easy way to earn some extra cash. Unfortunately, many people find out the hard way that becoming a host can also have complicated and potentially costly repercussions if you don’t adequately prepare. One of the most important ways to protect yourself from financial disaster is by securing the appropriate levels of insurance coverage.

In response to the need for some type of insurance protection for those renting out their home, Airbnb introduced Host Protection Insurance (HPI). Described as “coverage of up to $1,000,000 per accident for Airbnb hosts if a guest is accidentally injured anywhere in the host’s building or property during the stay,” this coverage is often criticized for leaving more questions than answers. According to PropertyCasualty360°, gaps include:

  • Coverage limited to $1 million per occurrence; $2 million per location. The policy aggregate is $10 million for all insured locations in the United States, which leaves you vulnerable to financial ruin.
  • Coverage provided in excess of any other available coverage. The host must submit the claim to his/her homeowners insurance and the claim must be denied by that company before Airbnb’s insurance will pay. Most often, filing such a claim with your homeowners insurance company will result in a policy cancellation since you are utilizing your home for business use.
  • Other “key” exclusions of HPI include: (1) intentional acts (of the host or any other insured party), (2) loss of earnings, (3) personal and advertising injury, (4) fungi or bacteria, (5) Chinese drywall, (6) communicable diseases, (7) acts of terrorism, (8) product liability, (9) pollution, (10) asbestos, or lead or silica, and (11) insured vs. insured (i.e., host sues Airbnb or vice versa).
  • Coverage limited to an actual stay, not a booking. No show – no coverage. It is also important to note if the guest arrives early or stays late – no coverage.

As illustrated above, insurance coverage offered through home listing sites only goes so far. It is critical that you research your options for complete insurance protection. Some home insurance policies cover short-term rentals; however, if there are multiple short-term visits you may have to purchase a business policy that provides coverage similar to that of a bed and breakfast. Additionally, if you are renting your home for a longer period of time to one person or family, you may require a landlord or rental dwelling policy.

At OceanPoint Insurance, safeguarding your financial future is our top priority. Before you list your home online, we ask that you contact us at 847.5200 to discuss your options with one of our experienced agents. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Expensive Valentine’s Gifts Require Special Insurance Coverage

shutterstock_246369352At OceanPoint Insurance, we are committed to helping you protect your personal property. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we would like to remind you of the importance of insuring your valuables. After you purchase that pricey piece of jewelry, remember to call your OceanPoint agent to secure proper insurance protection.

Many people are unaware that jewelry losses are among the most frequent of all home insurance content-related insurance claims. We ask that you review the following simple steps, provided by the Insurance Information Institute, to ensure adequate protection for your investment:

1) Contact your insurance agent immediately.

Find out how much coverage you already have and whether you will need additional insurance. Most standard homeowners and renters insurance policies include coverage for personal items such as jewelry; however, many policies limit the dollar amount for the theft of high-value personal possession, such as jewelry, to $1,000 to $2,000. You would be covered if the item were destroyed by disaster, such as a fire or hurricane. However, if your expensive new present was lost or stolen you would need separate insurance to be covered.

To properly insure jewelry, consider purchasing additional coverage through a floater or an endorsement. These coverages carry no deductibles, which means no out-of-pocket expense to replace the item.

2) Obtain a copy of the store receipt.

Forward a copy of the receipt so we know the current retail value of the item. Keep a copy for your records and include it with your home inventory. If the item was purchased on sale, also get a copy of the appraised value of the item.

3) If you received an heirloom piece, have the item appraised.

Heirlooms and antique jewelry will need to be appraised for their dollar value.

4) Add the item to your home inventory.

An up-to-date inventory of your personal possessions can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and speed up the claims process if you have a loss. Remember to add your new jewelry to your inventory.

If you would like to schedule a review of your current policies, please call OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200.

Safeguard Your Home Before You Travel

shutterstock_168999266Whether you’re hitting the slopes or heading south for the winter, it is imperative that you protect your home before you begin your vacation. Taking a few precautions in advance can provide you with added peace of mind and ensure your property is secure while you travel.

  1. Request that a neighbor check on your home. This will reduce the likelihood of your home being burglarized. Ask them to retrieve mail or newspapers and check the property for anything out of the ordinary.
  2. Never post about an upcoming vacation on social media. Announcing your intentions to leave town is asking for trouble. Wait until your return home to post pictures and details of your travels.
  3. Set your thermostat to no lower than 55° F. This will prevent frozen or burst pipes, which can lead to extensive and costly water damage.
  4. Unplug all unnecessary appliances.  Protect your home from an electrical fire or power surge by unplugging anything that will not be in use during your vacation. This includes your toaster, coffee maker and other small appliances
  5. Make it appear as if you’re home. This can be accomplished by simply keeping your blinds in the same position you normally do and leaving a few lights on inside your home. It is also a good idea to consider installing motion sensor lights around the exterior of your home.

Your friends at OceanPoint Insurance wish you safe and happy travels.

Employees Share Gift of Warmth and Reading for Local Youth

Employees of  OceanPoint Insurance Agency and BankNewport (OPIA) recently created 60 youth literacy kits and 60 no sew fleece blankets in partnership with the United Way of Rhode Island.  The service projects were part of the Bank and OPIA’s annual workplace giving campaign in support of the United Way.

The youth literacy kits included a Clifford book by Norman Bridwell and an assortment of “add on projects” for each child, including a Clifford sock puppet, a bookmark, crayons and coloring worksheets, and a backpack tag.  The kit was designed to deepen children’s reading experience by bringing books to life.  The “‘no sew” blankets were made by cutting and knotting the fringe of colorful fleece fabrics, to provide a child with sense of security and a cozy reminder that someone cares.

Three local agencies were the beneficiaries of the literacy kits and blankets:  Comprehensive Community Action Program’s Head Start Program in Cranston, Westbay Community Action Program’s Children’s Center in Warwick, and the Women’s Resource Center of Newport and Bristol Counties. BankNewport and OPIA employees delivered 20 blankets and 20 literacy kits to each organization for their youth clients and families to enjoy.

 

 

Exercise Caution to Ensure a Safe Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is a time for great food, and spending quality time with family and friends. We all know the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the festive weeks to come. While the holidays are a wonderful time of year, they can also pose many dangers.

Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking fires, with three times as many cooking fires taking place than on an average day. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2013, Thanksgiving Day was the leading date for home cooking fires with 1,550, 230% above the average number of fires per day.

Keeping fire and cooking safety top of mind during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there is a lot of activity and people at home. Below are some safety tips you can follow to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday:

  • Remain in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen, remember to turn off the stove.
    • According to the NFPA, unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and associated civilian injuries and was the third leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • Make sure kids stay away from the stove, hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables or gravy could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you do not trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
  • If you experience an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Although a popular cooking method, turkey fryers are very dangerous if used incorrectly.

  • Only use a turkey fryer outdoors, away from trees and wooden structures.
  • Never place a frozen turkey into the fryer, because the mixture of ice and oil can cause flare-ups, or hot-oil explosions.
  • If using propane, leave at least two feet between the tank and the burner.
  • Turkeys weighing more than 12 pounds are unsafe to fry, which is why we recommend turkeys between 8 and 10 pounds if you consider frying a turkey.
  • Do not stuff or marinade the turkey if you are planning to fry it.
  • When finished, remove the pot from the burner and cover it for at least 24-hours before emptying the oil.

For more information on how to keep your home safe, call OceanPoint Insurance at 401-847-5200.