Stay Safe and Protect Yourself from Halloween Mishaps

shutterstock_219087598At OceanPoint Insurance, protecting your family is our top priority. As you make final touches to your costumes, stock up on candy, and gear up for some spooktacular fun, we want to remind you of a few safety tips to keep you and your trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween. Additionally, taking steps to prepare your property and protect visitors is also a good idea.

  • For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape.
  • To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights.
  • Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
  • Drive slowly and watch for children darting into the street.

Be Aware of Dangers that Might Not be Visible at Night

  • Walk your property before Halloween to identify and minimize potential dangers, especially those difficult to see after dark. For example, check to make sure temporary extension cords are secured to avoid a tripping hazard.
  • Make sure walking surfaces are even and clear of debris, and that any obstacles are clearly marked, such as stakes, exposed roots or holes.
  • Ensure that your front yard, walkway and entryway are well lit so that those unfamiliar with your home can safely navigate.

Halloween is an exciting time for children, but it can also be very dangerous for them as well. Be sure to review these tips with your little ones and make sure they understand their importance. If you have any concerns about keeping your family safe and protecting your property this week, contact OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200.

Prepare Your Home for the Winter Season

shutterstock_219740656Another New England winter is coming fast, and so is the damaging ice, snow and wind that comes along with it. While we would rather put off thinking about winter as long as possible, the time to winterize your home is when the leaves begin to fall – not the snow.

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.

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.

Life Insurance is About Protecting Your Loved Ones

shutterstock_116494771The concept of life insurance is something that few people like to discuss. Planning for a time when you are no longer available to provide for your family might be difficult, but it is one of the smartest investments you could make. September is Life Insurance Month, and in recognition OceanPoint would like to highlight some fundamental facts about life insurance.

One of the most common misconceptions regarding life insurance is the cost. Many are dissuaded from purchasing life insurance because they feel it is too expensive. However, there are a variety of life insurance options available to fit your specific needs and budget. Some of the basics are:

Term life – This is the most inexpensive form of insurance because 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 – As the name suggests, 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 – A variable policy offers more investment options than a universal life policy, with the policyholder having the ability to select the investment options.

In short, life insurance protects those who depend on you for financial support. If the unexpected should happen, life insurance provides your dependents with income so they may continue to live comfortably. It can also cover medical, legal, and funeral costs as well.

At OceanPoint Insurance, we are committed to the total protection of you and your loved ones. For a complimentary review of your life insurance options, please call us today at 401.847.5200.

Ridesharing – Are you properly insured?

shutterstock_63837973The United States has recently seen an extreme uptick in what is often referred to as the emerging “sharing society.” As younger generations in particular opt for sharing of all kinds – cars, homes, and apartments – it is crucial to be aware of the impact these activities have on your insurance.

In an increasingly connected society, peer-to-peer services are springing up, through the use of mobile apps that allow consumers access to transportation services. As ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft keep growing, the industry is more popular than ever.

In most cases, ride sharing is not protected through a basic auto policy. This policy typically excludes coverage for liability, bodily injury, physical damage or property damage arising out of the ownership, operation or occupation of a vehicle while it is being used for transportation services. If you are considering using your vehicle for these services, you should note the following:

  • Operators/drivers must be licensed by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) and maintain a minimum of $1.5 million commercial liability insurance.
  • You must obtain a special Hackney Operator’s License issued by the DPUC prior to transporting passengers for hire in RI.
  • These services are required to be provided only in vehicles bearing “Public Registration License Plates.”

Most standard personal auto policies contain exclusions for livery — which essentially means driving for hire. Typical exclusions found in policies are described below, but individual policy exclusions can vary. Policyholders are advised to contact their OceanPoint Insurance agent to learn which exclusions apply to them. All the exclusions below do not apply to a share-the-expense car pool.

Liability Coverage (Exclusion): Liability Coverage is not provided for any insured’s liability arising out of the ownership or operation of a vehicle while it is being used for public or livery transportation.

Medical Payments Coverage (Exclusion): Medical Payments Coverage is not provided for any bodily injury to the insured that is sustained while occupying the insured vehicle when it is being used as public or livery transportation.

Coverage for Damage to your Auto (Exclusion): Loss to your insured vehicle or any non-owned vehicle, that occurs while it is being used for public or livery transportation will not be paid for.

To learn more about insurance coverage for ridesharing, contact your OceanPoint Insurance agent at 401.847.5200.

The Danger of Distracted Driving

shutterstock_137772059The increased proliferation of technology in all of our lives has created a new danger for those who take to the roads every day: distracted driving.

Talking on cell phones, operating navigation or audio devices and, especially, texting while driving create situations for drivers, passengers and those operating nearby or oncoming automobiles that can be extremely hazardous.

Numerous sources cite texting while driving as more dangerous than even driving while intoxicated.

According to Distraction.gov, the official distracted driving information website of the United States government, distracted driving is defined as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” These activities can include talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking, watching a video, adjusting a sound system, checking a navigation system, or even simply talking to passengers.

But by far the greatest distraction, because it involves visual, manual as well as mental attention, is texting.

During the daylight hours, at any time there are up to 660,000 drivers who are texting while behind the wheel, while a full quarter of teenagers respond to a text message at least once each time they drive.

A 2009 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that while texting a driver’s eyes typically leave the road for a full five seconds, or enough time at 55 mph to drive the length of a football field.

Distraction.gov notes that in 2013, 3,154 people were killed and 421,000 people injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. Drivers under the age of 20 make up 10 percent of all distracted driving fatalities, while drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of distracted driving deaths.

OceanPoint Insurance wants to make our clients and others – especially those who are the parents of teenagers or young adults – aware of the very real danger of distracted driving, especially the distraction of texting while driving.

For more information on the dangers of distracted driving and how to stay safe behind the wheel, call OceanPoint at 847.5200

 

More information is available from Distraction.gov (www.distraction.gov) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which hosts a texting and driving prevention website, “Stop The Texts. Stop The Wrecks” (www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org).

The Importance of Protecting Your Home In Hurricane Season

shutterstock_135278885-2June marked the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, 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 begins to rise slowly through June and July but then shoots up in August, peaking in September, slowing in October, and then returning to normal levels through October and November. 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 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.

Keep child safe at college – Secure the proper insurance protection today

shutterstock_218158654One of the proudest moments in a parent’s life is watching their child go off to college. At OceanPoint Insurance, our job is to make sure you are prepared for all of life’s important events.

When students leave for college all of their expensive items go with them – cell phones, laptops, TV’s, etc. It is important to be aware of the factors that determine if these items will be covered by insurance. If your child will be living in a dorm on campus, his or her personal property will typically be covered under your homeowners insurance policy. However, you may want to check your policy for coverage limitations on certain high-priced items.

If your child will be living off campus, his or her personal property is usually not covered under your homeowners insurance policy. In that case, you should consider adding a renter’s insurance policy to protect his or her possessions.

Parents should also review their auto insurance options while their child is away. If he or she is not taking a car, there are other options available before dropping them entirely from your auto policy to save money.

Some insurance companies offer a Distant Student Discount for college students with no access to a car except over breaks and vacations. Requirements vary by insurance provider, but in order to be eligible students typically must be at least 100 miles away from home, be attending school full time, and under the age of 23.

As a full time student, your child may also qualify for a Good Student Discount if he or she maintains a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

OceanPoint reminds you if your child is going away to school and taking a car, it is crucial you inform us immediately. Insurance coverage and laws vary from state to state, so if your child is attending school out of state we will need to update your policy. In addition, your child may need to be listed as the primary operator if he or she is taking a family vehicle.

Call your OceanPoint Insurance agent at 401.847.5200 to review your savings options. We’ll help you keep your child safe, even when you can’t be there to protect them.

Benefits of combining polices with OceanPoint

At OceanPoint Insurance, our agents are always looking for new innovative ways to save you money and enhance your coverage. Did you know that by simply combining two or more policies could save you hundreds annually?

As an independent insurance agency, we represent over 25 insurance companies. We have the ability to shop around for multi-policy discounts, giving you more options for bundled plans. As an added benefit, OceanPoint also has the ability to switch your policies to another carrier, if your current carrier changes their pricing structure.

Combining your policies not only saves you money – it saves you valuable time. Placing all of your policies with OceanPoint means convenience when paying bills and filing a claim. If any questions arise you have one knowledgeable contact at a local agency, rather then a representative who is not familiar with you or your account.

OceanPoint Insurance provides you choices. We are dedicated to your total protection and are committed to treating you as a person, not a policy.

Call OceanPoint Insurance at 401.847.5200 to discuss your options for combining policies.

What You Should Know About Hurricane Deductibles

iStock_000010149937LargeIn nineteen 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. Hurricane deductibles are only triggered when a named hurricane makes landfall in the state where the insured property is located. A deductible would not go into effect for a tropical storm, blizzard, or any other weather phenomenon other than a hurricane.

Hurricane deductibles are usually set between 1% and 5% of the dwelling limit – the amount for which a home is insured. As an example, if your home is insured for $300,000 and your policy has a 5% hurricane deductible, you would be responsible for the first $15,000 in hurricane damage. Hurricane deductibles are not permitted to exceed 5% of the dwelling limit.

While hurricane deductibles are not mandatory, many insurers make this 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. Depending on the homeowner’s unique set of circumstances, we will recommend a coverage plan best suited for our client, which may or may not include a hurricane deductible.

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

New Law Modifies Flood Insurance For Secondary Homes

In April 2015, Congress began implementing the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA), which repeals some provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, modifies others, and makes additional changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The new law limits the rate of increase for individual premiums to 18%, while increases for average rate classes are capped at 15%. However, non-primary homes, such as secondary or vacation homes or rental properties, are subject to a 25% annual premium increase. In addition to premium increase, HFIAA requires a $25 surcharge on all policies for primary residences, and a $250 surcharge on all other policies, including non-primary residences.

FEMA defines a non-primary residence as a building that will not be lived in by an insured or an insured’s spouse for more than 50% of the 365 days following the policy effective date.

To determine the correct HFIAA surcharge, insurers must now validate primary residence eligibility. Flood insurance providers sent a letter and Verification of Primary Residence Status form to current policyholders to verify their primary residence.

To make sure you only receive the $25 HFIAA surcharge, policyholders must submit one of the following with the form:

  • Drivers license
  • Automobile registration
  • Proof of insurance for a vehicle
  • Voter registration
  • Documents showing where children attend school
  • Homestead Tax Credit form for primary residence

Because this premium surcharge is mandated by law, if documentation is not provided your renewal premium will automatically reflect the $250 HFIAA surcharge. We strongly encourage you to review your renewal policy to confirm that it is being rated as your primary residence.

If your policy is coming up for renewal and you have not received a letter and form, please contact your OceanPoint agent. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the office at 401.847.5200.