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.

Boating Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

shutterstock_15657421Did you know that Rhode Island requires boaters to have a Boater Safety Education Certificate, not a boating license? Anyone born on or after January 1, 1986, is required to pass an approved boater education course before legally operating any vessel powered by a motor of more than 10 horsepower. In addition, anyone operating a personal watercraft, or jet ski, regardless of age, must have passed an approved boater education course.

In addition to reviewing your local boating laws, it’s important to always practice boating safety. We have provided some tips to help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip:

  • Be weather-wise. We are at the start of hurricane season, and you should always check local weather conditions before departure.
  • Download the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) boating safety app. The USCG released a mobile app last month that features: latest safety regulations, ability to request emergency assistance, file a float plan, and more.
  • Develop a float plan. Always be sure to let someone else know your plan, including where you’re going and how long you’re going to be gone.
  • Have proper lifejackets onboard. The majority of drowning accidents result from boaters not wearing a lifejacket. Make sure everyone onboard has a lifejacket and that it properly fits.
  • Avoid alcohol. The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved.
  • Consider a free vessel safety check. The USCG offers complimentary boat examinations to evaluate the safety of your vessel.

For more information on boating safety or to inquire about marine insurance, please call OceanPoint Insurance at 401.847.5200.

Safeguarding skilled tradesmen and property owners with specialized contractor’s insurance

shutterstock_183638237-2Seasonable spring weather has finally arrived and with that comes the desire to schedule those much-needed repairs and home improvements. Homeowners recognize and appreciate the importance of having a skilled, experienced contractor perform work on their home. Reputable contractors, in turn, understand that the best way to safeguard their livelihood is through a comprehensive contractor’s insurance policy through OceanPoint.

Whether applying a fresh coat of paint to a home’s exterior, or adding a new sunroom, successful contractors know that using the best materials ensures a positive job completion. Just as important is making sure that the job is insured against personal injury, mishap or financial loss. In addition to facing the risk of accident or injury with each job, contractors are also held to strict standards by their customers.

OceanPoint understands the unique needs of contractors and offers a variety of options to help secure their business. Contractor general liability insurance provides protection from a variety of potentially expensive circumstances, including liability claims and lawsuits. Additionally, the safety and security of those on the job site, as well as the structures being built, must also be considered within the policy.

Coverage options include:

  • General Liability Insurance is a fundamental component of contractors insurance. If you find yourself on the unfortunate side of a lawsuit or other financially pressing issue, general liability will provide the protection you need.
  • Workers’ Compensation is essential for covering costs such as medical expenses acquired by an injured person due to an accident on the job, or for lost wages for an employee who falls ill or injured.

OceanPoint Insurance has been providing contractors with a higher-level of insurance protection for generations. Our agents possess the knowledge and experience to design a customized insurance package for your specific needs and budget.

Call us today at (401) 847-5200 to speak to one of our trusted, local agents.

Moving to a new apartment or condo? Make renters insurance a top priority

shutterstock_227703367-2Watching the local news this winter, we all witnessed the many devastating fires that destroyed countless homes and businesses. While homeowners and business owners are provided assistance with rebuilding their lives through their insurance policies, many renters found out the hard way that their personal belongings are not protected.

If you are currently renting an apartment or condominium and have not secured adequate renters insurance, your property and belongings are not shielded from theft, damage or total loss.

Many renters are unaware that their landlords’ insurance policy strictly covers the property that is owned by the landlord. Though their policy may cover structural damage to your living space, renters insurance fully protects you and your belongings in the case of an accident or natural disaster. Moreover, renters insurance also provides financial assistance to cover any added living expenses you may incur should your apartment become uninhabitable for any reason.

In addition to replacing your stolen or damaged items, renters insurance will also provide liability protection against any injury or loss sustained by guests of your residence, and could pay for necessary repairs if you were to damage another renter’s apartment.

Renters insurance is a smart, cost-effective way to ensure that your home and valuables are protected.

Call OceanPoint Insurance at 401-847-5200 and let our agents tailor a renters insurance package specifically for you.

It’s All Going to Melt: Spring Flooding

shutterstock_63956722It might seem impossible now, but in the coming months the snow covering the ground will begin to melt. As spring’s warmer temperatures begin to melt the snow, they can also bring heavy spring rain. Unfortunately, until the ground thaws, melting snow and rain cannot be absorbed. The excess water runoff overwhelms drainage systems and can overflow lakes, streams and rivers. With nowhere to go, flood waters can inundate nearby homes and businesses.

In addition to the snowmelt, frozen rivers and streams will also begin to thaw. As the ice breaks and travels downstream, ice jams can block the flow of water, creating flooding upstream. The combination of snowmelt, thawing bodies of water and ice jams, with spring rain can result in serious, widespread flooding.

Here are some tips to avoid flooding caused by snowmelt:

  • Remove snow from around your foundation and pay particular attention to the areas around window wells. As snow melts, water could accumulate and seep in. Moving accumulated snow just a few feet away from the house can help avoid a wet basement.
  • Help keep catch basins clear. Where possible, safely clear snow, ice, and debris from the catch basins in your area.
  • Avoid having snow drain next to your house. Make sure your downspouts carry water several feet from your house to a well-drained area.

Water damage caused by flooding is not covered under most standard homeowners policy. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), between 2008 and 2012, the average flood claim was over $38,000. That’s more than most people can afford to pay out-of-pocket for flood damages—and without flood insurance, many must cover the costs to repair or rebuild on their own.

A flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to bring high out-of-pocket costs, and you don’t have to live in a high-risk flood area to suffer flood damage. Depending on the location of your home, you may qualify for a Preferred Rate Policy.

It takes 30-days for a flood insurance policy to take effect, so don’t wait until the snow starts melting. Call OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200 at learn more about flood insurance and how best to protect your home.

Risks of Sea-level Rising and Coastal Homes

shutterstock_41872231 The Ocean State, with over 400 miles of coastline, is known for its beaches, bluffs, and scenic waterfronts. Rhode Island’s coast is a vital part of the state’s identity, attracting long- and short-term visitors, and offering opportunities for recreation, industry, and simple enjoyment.

Being within a stone’s throw of the beach is a dream for many, but the realities of coastal living can be harsh. There are many crucial factors to consider before buying a home on the coast.

The sea-level rising in Rhode Island has worsened over the years and poses a great risk to coastal homeowners. Since 1930, sea-level rise in Rhode Island has increased an average of 1 inch per decade. However, the rate of sea-level rise has quickened and the sea level along Rhode Island’s coast has risen 6 inches over the last 40 years. By 2100, the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council is planning for 3 to 5 feet of sea level rise.

If the property you are considering is not currently located in a flood zone, it very well may be in the future. Be sure to check the 0.2% risk area to see if the property may be in the flood zone in the future, which, with rising sea levels, may offer a more accurate look at the future floodplain.

While a coastal home presents flooding risks, there are many factors that have changed over the years to better protect coastal properties. Many homes along the coast were built before the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created. Now, requirements designed to increase the flood-resistance of coastal structures have been strengthened within international, federal, and state building codes to meet the requirements of the NFIP.

There are improvements that can be made to a home to better protect it from natural disasters:

  • Consider shoreline protection structures such as seawalls, jetties, breakwaters, and bulkheads.
  • Choose materials that are resistant to damage from flooding, termites and other hazards.
  • Install appliances above a potential flood level. For example, install a front-loading washer on a platform, or over a built-in drawer.
  • Make sure you have a sealed roof deck
    • Consider sealing roof decking seams with six-inch-wide roofing tape as a secondary defense against water damage.
  • Invest in high wind rated roof mounted vents
  • Install gable wall vents that are protected against water intrusion
  • Make sure all door, window, and skylight openings are protected with impact-protection systems
  • Any attached structures should be connected by strapped beams or columns to prevent uplift

Call OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200 to speak with an agent before purchasing a coastal home. We can help you further understand your risks and the importance of flood insurance.

Ride-Sharing Poses Risks You May Not Be Aware Of

Ride-sharing is the fast-growing system of offering your vehicle for personal transportation services and it is becoming increasingly popular as companies such as UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar continue to grow. These types of operations involve pre-arranged services using an online-enabled application to connect with potential passengers.

As this industry gains popularity and a wider array of programs are available, the potential gaps in insurance coverage for both drivers and passengers are concerning.

If you are considering providing ride-sharing 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.”

There are many potential gaps in personal auto policies that you should consider and it is crucial you speak with your insurance agent prior to engaging in ride-sharing.

Potential Coverage Gaps in your own Personal Auto Policy:

Most standard personal auto policies contain exclusions for livery – which essentially means driving for hire. Insurance companies might deny coverage to people that are driving passengers for payment based on the below exclusions or similar exclusions, but you should speak with your insurance agent to be certain which apply to you. 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.

You should contact your insurance agent about potential gaps in your personal automobile coverage that can arise if you are driving for one of these operators. You may need to consider buying a commercial policy with medical payments, comprehensive, collision and Uninsured or Underinsured motorist coverage to be certain that coverage exists for damage to you, your car and/or for damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist while you are driving passengers for payment.

To learn more about the risks of participating in ride-sharing and how to best protect yourself, please call OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200.

Frozen Pipes: Preventing and Treatment

shutterstock_212307349Why It’s a Problem:

Many homeowners know that frozen pipes are a problem, but many don’t understand why or how they occur, or what to do if such an event occurs.

When water freezes, it expands, which puts an immense amount of pressure on whatever is containing it. Therefore, if enough pressure is created, pipes can break and cause severe damage to your home. That is why we suggest carefully noting the location of your pipes, and insulate as needed to avoid water damage.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes:

 Before the colder weather hits hardest this winter, follow these helpful tips to avoid potential damage:

  •  Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Keep outside valves open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing it to break.
  • When the weather is uncomfortably cold outside, let cold-water drip from the faucet that comes in by exposed pipes.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower temperatures in the evening, you can prevent a costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, leave the heat on and set it to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

Found a Frozen pipe? Thaw It Out:

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a few drips come out, suspect a frozen pipe. Typically, frozen pipes are found along exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad, an electric hair dryer, or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, or other open flame device.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

If you see that damage has been caused by a frozen pipe, call a professional immediately. Fortunately, most damage caused by burst pipes within the home is covered under your standard homeowners policy. However, we suggest contacting your OceanPoint Insurance agent today at 401-847-5200 to discuss the terms and be certain you are fully protected.