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.

Is Your Home Prepared for the Winter?

WinterWhile it feels like fall just arrived and we don’t want to rush the cold winter weather, now is the time to start preparing your property for the winter season.

To properly prepare your home for the cold weather, we have outlined some tips to help save you time, money and energy this season:

Examine your roof – Inspect for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow.

Clean out the gutters – Remove leaves, sticks and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can also help prevent ice dams.

Install storm doors and windows, which can increase energy efficiency by 45% by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Making sure these are installed and securely shut can help save you a great deal of energy and money.

On the same track, window insulation kits are available for just a few dollars at your local hardware store, and add a buffer against draft and extra still air space.

Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations. Use caulking to seal around any wall openings, preventing cold air and moisture from entering your home. Caulk and install weather stripping around windows and doors to prevent warm air from leaking out and cold air from blowing in.

Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water, the better chance you have to prevent pipes from bursting.

Prepare your fireplace – Make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good condition. This will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.

For more tips on how to properly winterize your home call OceanPoint Insurance today at 847.5200. Remember that no home is fully prepared without the proper homeowners insurance. Be sure to ask your OceanPoint agent to review your policy and ensure you’re fully covered for whatever winter throws your way.

Safeguard Your Property This Hurricane Season

hurricaneThe Atlantic hurricane season began in June, but with 10 of the costliest hurricanes on record arriving between August and October, now is the time to prepare for the worst by doing your best to protect your property.

Some of the most important actions home and business owners can take are trimming trees surrounding their properties and ensuring that any furniture and lightweight yard structures and decorations are secure.

The Weather Channel reports that the number of hurricanes and tropical storms rises dramatically in August, and peaks in September and October. But there are no concrete assurances when one of these great natural disasters will arrive. Among the biggest hurricanes the United States has experienced, Katrina, Irene and Andrew all arrived in August, Ike was in September and Sandy hit in October.

To prepare for these events, owners can take some straightforward precautionary steps to help protect their investments.

Trim nearby trees of their low-hanging or weak branches to prevent them from being torn off in a storm and thrown into homes and businesses. Try to keep branches from growing longer than five feet. Remove branches that are hanging over the edifice that could fall onto a roof during a storm. Remove leaves, sticks or other debris that can easily be blown around from yards, driveways or parking lots, including gravel or other rocks used in walkways or flowerbeds. Also, arrange with the local municipal authorities or a contractor to have tree limbs trimmed away from nearby power lines.

It may also be wise to consult an arborist or tree doctor about the roots of nearby trees, as the large amounts of rain that accompany hurricanes can loosen roots and possibly cause trees to fall into homes or businesses.

Items kept outside a structure should also be considered. Remove and store lawn furniture and place garbage cans and potted plants in a safe area out of reach of hurricane winds, such as in a garage or basement. Sections of fences or swinging fence doors should be secured.

As a leading provider of personal and commercial insurance coverage in Rhode Island, OceanPoint wants our clients to understand the risks of hurricanes and take the right precautions so that unexpected claims do not become necessary following heavy storms.

OceanPoint Insurance Agency is committed to providing clients with the best possible solutions to obtain protection and peace of mind. To learn more about how to protect your property during hurricane season, call us at 847.5200.

 

Life Insurance Protects The Ones You Leave Behind

Life InsuranceUnderstanding your options is easier than you might think

Reviewing your life insurance coverage can often seem like a daunting task. While advance planning for a time when you are no longer here for your family is challenging, it is also one of the best ways to protect them.

OceanPoint Insurance is committed to helping you safeguard what matters most, and in recognition of Life Insurance Month we offer the following facts regarding life insurance.

Many people are often dissuaded from purchasing life insurance because they believe it is too expensive. This is one of the most common misconceptions. Depending on your personal needs and budget, there are several options available to you:

Term life – As the most inexpensive form of insurance, there are no cash values or dividends. Term policies are purchased for a specific period of time such as 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. If an insured loved one passes away during that time period, a beneficiary is paid the dollar value of the policy.

Whole life – A whole life policy is protection for someone’s entire life. Premiums, which insurance companies invest, stay the same during the life of the policy. There are cash values, and some companies pay policyholders’ dividends. The cost is higher, but it is considered more effective for estate planning.

Universal life – A valuable coverage and living benefit, universal life policy allows for more flexibility and is more of an investment vehicle, however, increased contributions may be necessary if the investment interest assumptions are not met.

Variable life – Offering more investment options than a universal life policy, a variable policy allows the policyholder the ability to select the investment options.

While no one chooses to leave their loved ones unprotected, being unprepared for life’s unexpected events can do just that. If something should happen, life insurance provides your dependents with income so they may continue to live comfortably. Options can also include coverage for medical, legal, and funeral costs as well.

At OceanPoint Insurance, we are dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of you and your family. For a complimentary review of your life insurance options, please call us today at 401.847.5200.