Couldn’t Avoid that Pothole? You Could Receive Reimbursement for the Damage

shutterstock_61395181We’re at that time of the year when potholes start turning up left and right. This year the roads are filled with them, and we find ourselves swerving all over the road trying to avoid them.  However, avoiding every pothole is easier said than done and many of them have the potential to cause serious damage to your car.

Often times we don’t see one, or it’s filled with water disguising itself as a puddle and we don’t have time to avoid it.

If you hit a pothole that causes damage to your car, are you supposed to pay for that? 

If you pay out of pocket to fix the damages caused by the pothole, you could be reimbursed for up to $300 to cover the cost of repairs. Depending on which road, whether it was a state or city road, you can file a claim with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), or the city and receive reimbursement, if your claim is approved.

To ensure proper reimbursement, you must follow these steps when filing a claim with RIDOT:

1. Within 7-days of the incident, the registered vehicle owner must submit a letter to RIDOT stating the exact time, date, and location of the incident.

  • The letter must be post marked or received within 7-calendar-days of the incident.

2. You have up to 60-days to provide the following:

  • A copy of a police report, a tow receipt or an auto club report verifying the incident
  • A copy of the valid RI registration for the vehicle
  • Copies of itemized, paid receipts with a proof of payment provided; the current odometer reading must be on the repair bill

If the damage occurred on an Interstate highway, and your car was not disabled or you do not have a tow receipt or auto club report, often times the State Police is the correct agency from which motorists should seek a pothole incident report form.

There are no guarantees with any claim made to RIDOT, and the pothole claim law only applies to cars registered in Rhode Island. The pothole law is only effective for non-residents if their vehicle is registered in a state that has a reciprocal pothole law (such a state would afford similar protections to Rhode Island-registered vehicles in its state).

If you choose to file a claim with your auto insurance company, you should know the damages would only be covered if you have collision insurance and that your deductible would apply. Make sure you take pictures of the damage right away, and if it is safe you should take a picture of the pothole as well to help process the claim.

For more information on pothole damage reimbursement and for help when filing a claim call OceanPoint Insurance at 401-847-5200.

Safety Tips for Today’s Storm and Future Winter Weather Conditions

In addition to preventing frozen pipes, be sure you have an emergency kit both at home and in your car filled with supplies in case of a large storm.

Your emergency kit should include:

  • Rock salt to melt the ice.
  • Kitty litter or sand to build traction.
  • Snow shovels and snow removal tools.
  • Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove be sure to have a good supply of dry, seasoned wood.
  • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.

About 70% of winter deaths related to snow and ice occur in automobiles.

Here are some tips to for safe driving during winter conditions:

  • Keep your gas tank full.
  • Install good winter tires with adequate tread.
  • Keep a windshield scraper for ice and snow removal.
  • Keep your windshield wiper fluid filled.
  • In the event your car begins to spin out of control, here’s what you should do:
    • Don’t slam on the brakes.
    • When you begin to skid, take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, quickly, then steer in the direction you want your car to go.
    • Before the rear wheels stop skidding, shift to drive and gently press the accelerator.

Avoid driving during heavy snowstorms and very icy conditions. However, if you must drive, take all the proper precautions to ensure you and your family’s safety.

Call OceanPoint Insurance at 401-847-5200 for more information on how to keep your loved ones safe. 

The Winter Weather is Here – Are Your Pipes Prepared to Endure the Cold?

At OceanPoint Insurance, we want to make sure you’re properly educated on how to prevent loss and damage to your home. With the cold New England weather occurring today, it’s important you know what steps to take in order to ensure your home is prepared for winter weather.

Frozen pipes are very common and can lead to extensive water damage. However, this common occurrence is also highly preventable. While sudden and accidental water damage from plumbing systems is covered under most standard homeowners insurance policies it is always best to take precautions to avoid loss entirely.

Frozen pipes mostly occur when temperatures are 20°F or below and pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are the most vulnerable to freezing.  

Here are some tips to prevent frozen pipes in your home:

  • Leave the heat on in your home to a minimum of 55ºF during bitterly cold conditions.
  • Insulate vulnerable pipes that are accessible with insulation sleeves or wrappings which can be purchased at a local hardware or plumbing store.
  • Cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes should be sealed with caulking to keep cold wind away from the pipes.
  • Use all of your plumbing fixtures at some point during the day to keep water flowing.
  • Drain and then cover all external faucets.
  • Keep the indoor faucets running at a slow drip to maintain water flow.

If you experience extensive water damage, turn off the water supply as soon as possible.

Call OceanPoint Insurance at 401-847-5200 for more tips on how to keep your home protected this winter.

OceanPoint Announces the Addition of Raymond Insurance

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NEWS RELEASE

Middletown, RI – January 6, 2014

OceanPoint Insurance Agency has announced that it has acquired Raymond Insurance of Coventry, RI, to expand insurance services in the West Bay area.  Additionally, Kim Raymond, principal of Raymond Insurance, has accepted the position of Vice President of West Bay Operations for OceanPoint.

Recognizing the opportunity to join forces with Kim Raymond, who has a proven track-record in the insurance industry, Doug Mayhew, president and CEO of OceanPoint Insurance, said, “We are pleased to welcome Kim and Raymond Insurance to the OceanPoint team.  Kim is a dedicated insurance professional, who is very involved in her community; we look forward to working with her to strengthen our market share in the West Bay.”

Raymond is also pleased to join such a trusted and professional insurance agency: “OceanPoint Insurance has a tremendous reputation for customer service making this a very good fit for Raymond Insurance.  The clients of Raymond Insurance can also look forward to a greater selection of products and services offered through OceanPoint,” said Kim Raymond.

About OceanPoint Insurance

Headquartered in Middletown, Rhode Island, OceanPoint Insurance Agency, Inc. provides a broad range of property casualty insurance products, in addition to a full array of financial services. Along with BankNewport, OceanPoint Insurance Agency, Inc. is a subsidiary of the Mutual Holding Company, OceanPoint Financial Partners, MHC. Tracing its roots back to 1863, OceanPoint Insurance Agency, Inc. is proud to serve the insurance needs of clients from two full service offices located in Middletown and Barrington, Rhode Island, forming one of the largest independent insurance agency operations in southeastern New England.

For more information, visit www.oceanpointins.com.

About Raymond Insurance Agency

Raymond Insurance Agency was founded in 1999 at its current location in Coventry, Rhode Island. Kim Raymond has been a Certified Insurance Counselor since 1997 and is an active member of the insurance community, currently serving on the Board of the Directors of the Independent Insurance Agents of RI.

For more information, please visit www.raymondagency.com.

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Properly Insure all of Your Valuable Holiday Gifts

shutterstock_61421437Plan on giving the gift of luxury this holiday season? Are you expecting an expensive piece of jewelry? Well, it is important that you know how to properly protect all of your jewelry and other valuable items during the gift-giving times.

Most standard homeowners policies protect your home and the items you own inside, but only up to a certain dollar amount. To insure your valuable items, you can purchase an extension or a “rider” that can be added on to your renters or homeowners policy to protect against theft or loss.

It is crucial you have your gift appraised because it’s important to know exactly how much your jewelry is worth to make certain you’re adequately insured. The value of a piece of jewelry depends on many factors, such as condition, age, color and clarity of the stones and the style.

You should also remember to keep any receipts that show the date you bought the piece, how much you paid for it, and where you purchased it. This should also be kept with a photograph of your item.

For more information on this important insurance coverage, please call OceanPoint insurance at 847.5200.

Long-term Care Insurance Make Dollars and Sense

shutterstock_61894663Whether due to old age, mental or physical illness, or injury, many people find themselves in need of assistance with basic everyday activities. As we age, it is important to have a plan in place in the event that we are no longer able to care for ourselves. When the need for long-term care arises, long-term care insurance can help with the potentially devastating emotional and financial toll that can result.

Long-term care insurance helps with the expense of assisted living or nursing home and even an in-home care professional. When you or someone you love suddenly need help with getting out of bed, bathing, cooking, crossing the room, and shopping for groceries, the expenses that come with having to pay someone to assist you can add up quickly. If you need long-term care services and have to pay to obtain them, do you have the financial resources to cover it?

There is a common misconception that your health insurance will cover long-term care. However, neither your health insurance nor Medicare will pay for this expense. The longer you wait to purchase long-term care insurance the more costly it becomes. Because it is based on your age and health status, the sooner you make the investment in long-term care insurance the better your rates will be.

It is important that you make the investment in long-term care insurance to lift the burden of care from yourself and your loved ones. It is also crucial that you consider what would happen if you were not prepared or were unable to care for an elderly parent. Give yourself and your family a peace of mind knowing that you will be covered if the need for long-term care arises.

Call OceanPoint Insurance today at 847-5200, for more information on long-term care insurance.

Give your Family a Sense of Security – Invest in Life Insurance Today

shutterstock_119918665Life insurance is one of the most important investments you will make during your lifetime. If the unexpected were to happen, life insurance will help protect those who depend on you for financial support. Life insurance will provide your loved ones with a source of income, and can help cover medical, legal, and funeral costs. Give yourself and your family peace of mind knowing they will be able to continue living comfortably and won’t have to worry about daily living expenses.

As with all types of insurance, there are a number of different options for coverage. The two major categories life insurance falls into are Term Life Insurance and Whole Life Insurance. Here is a brief explanation of each policy:

Term Life Insurance is designed to meet temporary needs. Term policies are purchased for a certain amount of time such as 10, 15, or 20 years and if the insured person dies during this period, a beneficiary will receive the dollar value of the policy. This is the most inexpensive form of life insurance because there are no cash values or dividends.

Whole Life Insurance provides you with coverage for your entire life. When you purchase a Whole Life Insurance policy, your premium is guaranteed to never increase, 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 Insurance provides permanent insurance protection and access to cash values that grow tax-deferred. A Universal Life policy allows for more flexibility where you are able to adjust the frequency and amount of your premiums.

A Variable Life Insurance policy offers more investment options than a universal policy. In addition to permanent life insurance, a Variable Life policy allows you to make investments that can help you accumulate money for your future needs.

Many times the conversation about life insurance is put off. In order to ensure your family’s financial security in the event of your passing, it is crucial you review all of your options. Call OceanPoint Insurance at 847-5200 to speak with an experienced agent about which option is best for you.

Hurricane Preparation Tips for Boaters

During hurricane season there is always a chance we could experience numerous storms, several of which may have the potential to become major hurricanes. It is crucial that you are prepared for whatever may happen.

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There is a special importance placed on hurricane preparedness for boat owners. To help ensure you take the necessary precautions, we offer a few helpful tips for how to prepare your boat in the event of a hurricane.

  • Have a plan of action in advance.
    • Boats remaining in a marina: Double all lines and attach them high on the strongest and tallest pilings, to allow for tidal rise. Make sure lines will not slip off pilings and that they are installed properly.
    • Boats remaining on a mooring: The mooring must be designed and maintained to withstand the weight of your boat (contact your marina to determine the maximum load their mooring will withstand and how that relates to a Category 3 storm). Inspect and service the chain and swivels that connect the mooring buoy annually.
    • Boats that can be  trailered: Haul your boat out of the water and move it to a safe location as far from tidal waters as possible.
    • Be aware of your lease or storage rental agreement with the marina or storage facility and know your responsibilities and liabilities as well as those of the marina.
    • Fully charge the boat’s batteries, and have backup batteries.
    • Shut off all devices consuming electricity except bilge pumps, and disconnect shore power cables.

When a hurricane is coming, after you have made anchoring or mooring provisions:

  • Remove anything portable such as sails, dinghies, electronics, cushions, etc. and securely tie down anything that cannot be removed.
  • Keep a list of everything left on the boat and what was removed.
  • Have all records including insurance policies, a recent photo of your boat, boat registration, equipment inventory, and the lease agreement with the marina or storage facility, together in one place.
  • Make sure you know the telephone numbers of appropriate authorities, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, Harbor Master, National Weather Service, and your insurance agent, and keep them on hand.
  • Do not stay aboard.

After the hurricane has passed.

  • Be aware of possible downed electrical wires. There may be stray AC current from submerged outlets, shore cords in the water, damaged vessel systems, etc. Do not enter the water!
  • Check for leaking natural gas and propane by smell only, not with matches or candles!

The most important things to do to protect your boat from hurricanes or any severe storms are planning, preparation and timely action. It is also critical that you have the proper insurance coverage in place, and fully understand your policy. Call your OceanPoint Insurance agent today, to ensure you are fully aware of what is covered under your policy, and we’d be happy to give you a complimentary policy review.

Be Prepared for Flood Insurance Rate Changes

In 2012 congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which requires the phase out and removal of subsidized rates. This law extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years and requires significant program reform. You should expect changes in your rates beginning October 1, 2013. Over the years, storms like Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina have caused flooding costs to continually increase. Many of the changes will be phased in over time and are designed to make the NFIP more financially stable, ensuring flood insurance rates more accurately reflect the real risk of flooding.

Some of the changes are as follows:

  • Premium increases
  • Exclusion of certain properties from receiving subsidized rates
  • No extension of subsidy for Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) new business policies or Pre-FIRM lapsed policies in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) or D zones
  • Policies issued under the Preferred Risk Policy Eligibility Extension will incur an average of a 20% premium increase annually, beginning with new business and renewals.
  • Introduction of Reserve Fund – The Biggert Waters Act of 2012 requires FEMA to build up a reserve fund to help meet the expected future obligations of the NFIP in higher than average loss years. Reserve Fund amounts will be part of the premium calculation for applicable policies and is about 5% of the total premium.
  • The Federal Policy Fee will increase to $44 for Non-Preferred Risk Policies and $22 for Preferred Risk Policies.
  • Elimination of no waiting period due to lender requirement
  • NFIP form changes

Many of these changes can be confusing, and it is important that you are fully aware of what to expect.  It is crucial you stay in contact with your agent while these modifications come into play to ensure you are properly protected at all times.

For more information or for a free complimentary policy review call OceanPoint Insurance today at 401-847-5200.

Auto Insurance is About More Than Your Vehicle

Many insurance policies boast their “low prices” or  “extra savings” when switching to their policy. At OceanPoint, we always try to find the best price for our customers, but we do so keeping in mind that auto insurance isn’t just about protecting your vehicle – it’s about protecting your loved ones inside your vehicle.

When determining the right coverage for you, we often take into consideration two important coverages that are more about you and your loved ones, than about the vehicles damaged in an accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage will protect you during an accident with someone who does not have any auto insurance or did not have enough insurance to cover the damages. This coverage can pay for your medical bills as well as those of the passengers in your car. Depending on the laws in your state it can also cover the damages to your vehicle, pain and suffering, loss of income, or loss of care and services.

Bodily Injury Liability covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other special damages incurred from an accident in which you are legally responsible for accidently injuring someone else.

The next time you’re tempted to go with an insurance policy that can lower your rates by reducing your coverage, remember, your policy is meant to not only protect your vehicle, but also to protect those you care about inside it.

For more information about the coverages associated with your auto insurance policy, contact OceanPoint Insurance Agency in Barrington at 401-245-3900, or in Middletown at 401-847-5200.