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Personal Insurance Blog

May is Massachusetts Motorcycle Safety Inspection Month

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

Thu, May 03, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

Do you own a motorcycle?  If you can answer "yes," there are two dates you need to remember:

  • the month of December is when all motorcycle registrations expire
  • the month of May is when all motorcycles need to have their annual safety inspection done
Rose Motorcycle Image

With the nicer weather FINALLY upon us we will see more and more motorcycles out on the road.  Please look for them and please look out for them!  

If you are a bike owner, May is typically when New England weather allows you to pull that bike out, get a tune up done, and make sure it is road ready.  Here's a list of some of the items to check:

  • tires
  • lights
  • turn signals
  • mirrors
  • horn
  • brakes
  • oil
  • fuel
  • muffler noise

Massachusetts is a helmet state.  When on the bike you should be wearing a US DOT standard helmet.  It is very important that this helmet is the correct size for your head.  In the event of an accident, having a properly fitted helmet can save your life.  Straps need to be buckled at all times.

If your motorcycle does not have a windshield you should be wearing some type of eye protection such as goggles, eye glasses, sunglasses or a face shield.

ALWAYS wear appropriate clothing.  So many times you see a driver or passenger wearing shorts, tank tops and/or open toe shoes.  None of that will help protect you if you go down.  No one expects this to ever happen, but it's far better to be safe than sorry...road rash can be nasty.

To discuss your motorcycle insurance, get a no-obligation quote, or to have any questions on this topic answered, please call a Gordon Atlantic Insurance professional toll free at 1-800-649-3252.  Prefer to type instead of talk?  Use the form at the top left of this blog.

  

 

Tags: inspection, summer safety, auto inspection, motorcycle safety, look twice to save a life

Distracted Driving and Railroad Crossings

Posted by Jeff Helm

Mon, Apr 09, 2018 @ 02:57 PM

Distracted Driving JH Pic

The Red Sox had just won their 2018 home opener in the bottom of the 12th, so to thaw out and celebrate we were on our way to Frank's in Cambridge for the world renowned "Tomahawk Steak."

I was following this person who was on the phone and didn't have a clue that the red crossing warning lights were on and kept driving!  The gates came down on the windscreen/ragtop as the train came whipping through. OMG. The gates went up and off they drove unharmed and apparently unfazed.  

April is Distracted Driving Month.  To learn more about the risks of distracted driving see our partner page at https://driveincontrol.org.  Gordon Atlantic Insurance has preferred pricing with In Control.

I've been and advocate of In Control driving training, and our non-profit In Control Family Foundation, since late 2004.  In Control has helped save lives by training over 30,000 young people and business employees, reducing crash rate percentages by staggering amounts.

In Control, through its fundraising efforts and some generous donors, has scholarships available.  Most insurance companies will give you a credit on your auto insurance for taking part in this program, too.

For more information please call one of the Gordon Atlantic insurance professionals toll free at 800-649-3252.  Prefer to type instead of talk?  Use the form on the left of this blog for an email or return phone call.  

 

Tags: distracted driving

OEM Parts vs After Market Parts

Posted by Jane Logan

Mon, Mar 26, 2018 @ 03:01 PM

What’s the difference between OEM and After Market Parts?

  • OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are “name brand” new parts made by the original manufacturer to meet the specifications of a specific vehicle make and model. Authorized auto dealerships that sell this particular brand of vehicle(s) usually have exclusive distribution rights to sell these parts.
  • After Market (Non-OEM) parts are “generic” new parts made by companies other than the original manufacturer.  Independent auto part stores and independent (not auto dealership) repair shops sell these parts.

 

Why don’t people want After Market Parts used for repairs?

Owners believe After Market parts are inferior or less safe than OEM parts.  Independent safety rating organizations such as The Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) dispute this concern.   If After Market parts weren't as safe as OEM parts, manufacturers would pay the price in product liability lawsuits.  They compete just fine by selling the same quality parts, same specifications, just with lower margins.

 

Why do insurance companies use After Market Parts for repairs?

  • Parts are easier to get, reducing repair time.
  • Using After Market parts reduces repair costs by 35%, which in 2010 saved $14.08 Billion.
  • Reducing repair costs reduces premium costs that consumers pay.
  • State law either allows or in some cases requires insurance companies to use After Market parts

Damaged Vehicle for OEM Blog-1.jpg

 

What gives insurance companies the right to use After Market Parts?

 The laws in each state regulate auto repairs. In Massachusetts, 211 CMR 133 (https://www.mass.gov/lists/211-cmr) requires the use of After Market parts if the damaged part meets the guidelines:

CMR 133.04: Determination of Damage and Cost of Repair

 (1) Appraisers shall specify that damaged parts be repaired rather than replaced unless: the part is damaged beyond repair, or the cost of repair exceeds the cost of replacement with a part of like kind and quality, or the operational safety of the vehicle might otherwise be impaired. When it is determined that a part must be replaced, a rebuilt, aftermarket or used part of like kind and quality shall be used in the appraisal unless:

(a) the operational safety of the vehicle might otherwise be impaired;

(b) reasonable and diligent efforts to locate the appropriate rebuilt, aftermarket or used part have been unsuccessful;

(c) a new original equipment part of like kind and quality is available and will result in the lowest overall repair cost;

(d) for vehicles insured under policies written on or before December 31, 2003, the vehicle has been used no more than 15,000 miles unless the pre-accident condition warrants otherwise; or.

(e) for vehicles insured under policies written or renewed on or after January 1, 2004, the vehicle has been used no more than 20,000 miles unless the pre-accident condition warrants otherwise.

A part is of like kind and quality when it is of equal or better condition than the pre-accident part.

 

Are After Market parts really as good and safe as OEM parts?

The manufacture of After Market parts is regulated and repair shops need to be licensed.  If After Market parts were indeed inferior they would be causing accidents, ultimately increasing costs for insurers.  Using inferior parts isn’t in anyone’s best interest, but using After Market parts is in everyone’s best interest as it increases competition, reduces repair costs, and ultimately lowers insurance premiums.

 

Is it worth challenging the insurance carrier requiring I use After Market Parts? 

If State law allows using After Market parts, your insurance company will authorize these for repair.  If a consumer wants to pay for OEM parts on their own, that is, pay the higher margin the manufacturers get for these, most body shops will agree to use them.  Even so, this can delay repairing your vehicle as the claim can become more complicated.  The longer it takes to negotiate the claim, the longer you’re without a vehicle and/or you’re paying for a rental.

 

I’m still not convinced.  Can I buy OEM coverage?

Yes!  We represent several companies that offer OEM part coverage for personal vehicles (not yet for business insurance), based on the model year and odometer reading/mileage on your vehicle.   As a rule of thumb, the cost is generally 30%-40% additional to the cost of your collision and comprehensive coverage. 

 

If you'd like to discuss your personal automobile coverage, call one of the Gordon Atlantic Insurance professionals toll free at (800) 649-3252.  Prefer to type instead of talk? Use the form at the top left of the blog for a return phone call or email.

 

Tags: auto claims, OEM Parts, After Market Parts, OEM Coverage

Changes at the Massachusetts Registry Regarding Licensing and ID Cards

Posted by Antonia Clifford

Mon, Mar 26, 2018 @ 02:11 PM

Effective March 26, 2018 the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will now require documentation showing you have a US citizenship or lawful presence in order to get or renew ANY driver's license, ID card or learner's permit.

Please be aware this may result in significant wait times leading up to the 26th due to system changes.

If you are getting or renewing your drivers license, ID card or learner's permit on or after March 26th, the documentation you provide will render you either a Standard license/ID card or a REAL ID license/ID card.  A REAL ID is a federal security standard for identification purposes that will be Passport Pic.pngrequired when flying within the US or entering certain federal buildings after October 2020.  If you don't mind carrying around your valid passport with you, you will never need a REAL ID license/ID card; a Standard license/ID card PLUS passport will be sufficient.  But to be clear, after October 2020 a Standard license/ID card ALONE will NOT be eligible for use as identification when flying or entering certain federal buildings.    

  • If you are a US citizen, a valid, unexpired passport is sufficient documentation.  You may also provide a certified US birth certificate.
  • If you are a permanent resident, a green card is sufficient documentation of lawful presence.
  • If you are not a US citizen you will need to provide valid, verifiable immigration documents PLUS proof that you have been granted a legal stay for at least 12 months.

When it’s time for your license/ID card renewal, should you wish to get a REAL ID license or ID card you will not be able to renew online but must visit a RMV Service Center.  Standard license or ID card renewals may be completed online at mass.gov/ID.  If you wish to secure a REAL ID license additional documentation will also be required: a link to the RMV Document Checklist is provided here.

If you have any questions regarding this change, please don't hesitate to call a Gordon Atlantic Insurance professional at 1-800-649-3252.  Prefer to type versus talk?  Click to the left for an emailed response.

Tags: Registry of Motor Vehicles, drivers license, REAL ID license, id card, REAL ID

How does a Homeowners Policy cover water in a basement?

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Sun, Mar 04, 2018 @ 12:47 PM

The homeowners policy is limited when you get water in your basement.  Flood insurance, if you have it, will provide some help but is often limited to mechanicals (e.g. heating system).  This article will provide some guidance on available coverages as well as what you can do to reduce damage if your basement gets really wet. 

sump-pump.jpg

Your basement is a concrete box stuck in the ground, often below the water table (especially after a big storm), that is designed to keep water out...but it doesn't always succeed.  Water pressure is relentless and often finds its way in, which is why many people who experience wet basements have a sump pump.   A good sump pump will extract water from the lowest point in your basement and pump it outside, away from the house.   But a sump pump doesn't work without power.

Some homeowners policies have optional limited "sump pump failure" coverage for these circumstances.  Since this insurance is subject to adverse selection (meaning only the people who are especially exposed buy it), it is expensive and limited.  If you don't have sump pump failure coverage and you get water in your basement, your homeowners insurance will be extremely limited.

flooded-basement.jpg

 

How does Flood Insurance  from the NFIP handle flooded basements?

In another example of underwriting against adverse selection (and flood insurance is another example of adverse selection where spread of risk is absent and risk cost is concentrated), NFIP policies do not provide insurance against any property below grade level except for mechanical systems like your heat.  And if your mechanical systems are indeed in your basement, below grade level, the NFIP will charge for this.

 

What can a homeowner do, absent of insurance?

Extracting the water from your basement should be your first priority

  1. A wet vac (wet vacuum), available at Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, and other big box stores, is a good household item able to safely extract water.  Wet vac what you can and open basement doors and windows to let the high humidity air escape.furniture-on-palette.jpg
  2. Put anything wooden on palettes, blocks of wood or concrete pads to prevent water from seeping into furniture or other property. 
  3. Professional remediation contractors have banks of high capacity fans to get water to evaporate and leave the building quickly.  Use any and all fans you have at your disposal once power is restored and turn up your heat to accelerate the process.

Water is the enemy in any location that is subgrade.  Fans, wet vacs, squeegies, mops, and/or specialists...use whatever and whomever it takes to get the water up and out.

To discuss your personal homeowners policy with an insurance professional at Gordon Atlantic Insurance call us at (800) 649-3252.  Prefer to type instead of talk?  Click below.

HAVE A QUESTION?

 

Tags: Water damage

How does a Homeowners Policy handle tree damage?

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Sun, Mar 04, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

Tree damage to your house from big windstorms is absolutely covered under most homeowners policies.  We live in treed neighborhoods; big storms knock down big trees, and your homeowners policy covers having the tree removed, the damage to the house, and the consequential damage such as to your personal stuff (including damage from the rain that finds its way inside).  This can get complicated with needs for cranes or other specialized equipment, roofers, and finish contractors, so getting in line early for these services is always a good step.  

Tree damage that does not hit a building is usually limited under a homeowners policy.   Policies that do include removal and clean-up typically provide $500 or $1,000 toward having trees removed and debris cleared away, subject to your deductible.  But this is an optional add-on coverage, not included automatically.  Contact us or the service center directly for your personal specifics.

If a tree hits your home, take pictures and begin necessary repairs  Don't wait to start on anything that you can safely do yourself, or through qualified service providers.   Taking reasonable steps to prevent further damage is covered.   When a tree penetrates a roof, or otherwise breaches the roof or walls, the opening can let water into the house, causing additional damage.  Don't wait for an insurance adjuster to hire or to do these kinds of repairs (as long as you can do so safely).   

If you don't have a landscape contractor in mind who can cut up and clear away the tree debris in your yard, visit our service providers page.  Be sure to keep in mind that the costs many of these providers charge goes up when there is a demand surge, such as the couple weeks immediately following a storm.  If you're paying out of your pocket, you can usually save a few dollars by waiting until after the initial demand surge is over. 

To discuss your personal homeowners policy with an insurance professional at Gordon Atlantic Insurance, call us toll free at (800) 649-3252.  Prefer to type instead of talk?  Click below.

HAVE A QUESTION? 

 

Tags: tree damage to home

Get Road Rewards telematics for safer driving

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Fri, Mar 02, 2018 @ 03:52 PM

Gordon Atlantic is always interested in promoting safer driving.  I beta tested a new telematics program ('telematics' is a fancy word for electronic monitoring of your driving) offered through our carrier Plymouth Rock.  With the program now launched, using the app earns points which users can redeem for discounts on Shell gasoline, free movie tickets and Starbucks gift cards.   But that's not the main reason I like it.  The main reason is that I have become a better driver.

Here's how the program works:

Road Rewards Pic.png

Plymouth Rock Road Rewards measures your driving performance and provides a score measuring speed, acceleration, braking, cornering, and phone usage. The better you drive the higher your score...and the more points you earn.  It costs nothing to participate in the program, but you must be a Plymouth Rock Massachusetts customer and have access to a smartphone to earn rewards.

At its launch, there are three existing partners:

  • Shell gas: where I could earn $1.00 a gallon off my next fill-up
  • Starbucks: where I can redeem points for coffee vouchers
  • Showcase Cinema tickets: where I can view the latest Oscar-nominated movie 

As someone who isn't too fond of "Big Brother," I'm pleased to know that Plymouth Rock is not collecting sensitive personal information off this app, and there are data security measures in place to respect my privacy. My driving habits as measured by this app will also NOT be used relative to any automobile claim I might be involved in.  Further, my score will not be used to affect my premium, as telematics programs with other carriers do.  There's no downside!

The Road Rewards app tracks through your smartphone and whatever vehicle that phone is in; having multiple vehicles won't affect your score.  You don't need to drive everyday, as scores only measure actual driving.  Data usage is minimal and you can have data uploaded only when connected to wifi in settings if you watch data usage. 

Road Rewards Pic 2.jpg

For parents: Imagine how this could impact your kids' driving habits. Have them download the app and remind them you'll be reviewing their score periodically... like whenever they ask for the keys!.  As the app recognizes phone use, such as answering a phone call or sending a text, you can see in the "Trips" section each trip in detail and where there are areas for improvement...such as not texting while driving, the most dangerous habit many kids seem to believe they are immune from.  

It also utilizes GPS to track location in order to monitor trips and adherence to local speed limits; this is when I like the phone to verify if new drivers were where they said they were.  Parents: this app puts you in the back seat of the car...virtually.

So here's the math: the safer you drive the better your score. The better your score the more points you earn.  It's that simple.

Let me circle back to my earlier comment about the best part of this program.  Since using this app my driving has indeed changed. It has raised my awareness about phone usage (only on bluetooth now, never by hand) and no texting.  I slow down earlier for stopped traffic to avoid any hard braking and I pay closer attention to my speed.  This app has made me a safer driver, and I'm reminded of that every time I review the app's feedback and monitor my score.   

AND I earn free coffee at Starbucks, free movies at Showcase Cinemas, and discounts on gas...that's pretty rewarding.

Update: Mapfre (Commerce) is another carrier which has introduced a telematics program.  While their rewards are different, the net effect, better driving, parental monitoring, is the same.

If you'd like to discuss your personal auto insurance with a Gordon Atlantic professional, and to see if Plymouth Rock and their Road Rewards program (of Mapfre's DriveAdvisor) might be a fit for you, call us at (800) 649-3252.  Prefer to type instead of talk?  Ask a question below or click for an obligation-free quote! 

  HAVE A QUESTION?             REQUEST A QUOTE

    

2018 Government Shutdown and NFIP (Flood insurance)

Posted by Stephanie O'Neill

Mon, Jan 22, 2018 @ 02:57 PM

Homeowners that are required to have a flood policy with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) may be affected by the current government shutdown that began on January 20, 2018 depending on when your policy - or a pending closing - is effective.

If your flood policy renewed prior to the expiration of the program (December 23rd) and you have paid your renewal, then your policy remains in force. Those who did not pay their renewal premium before or within the 30-day grace period may run the risk of not having coverage, loss of grandfathering and other penalties.

If you are purchasing a new house or property within a flood zone, you'll need a flood policy.

flood_pic.jpg

 If you have a sale pending, the application and payment must have been received and dated before the flood program expired (January 20) for the policy to be issued. This is also the case for closing dates after January 20th.

However, if you have a pending closing and have not submitted the application and payment, your closing will probably be delayed until the government re-authorizes the National Flood Insurance Program, or unless you choose a private flood insurance carrier such as offered at Gordon Atlantic Insurance.  See our article on private flood insurance options here.

How will claims be handled? Policies that are in force before midnight of the last effective day of authorization will remain in force until their expiration date and claims under those policies will be processed and paid as usual. Claims for covered losses occurring during a lapse, on existing policies and on policies in force after the last effective day of authorization, are to be processed and paid as usual.

FEMA will notify NFIP stakeholders when the program has been reauthorized.  Naturally if we can help with NFIP placement or with a private policy, just contact us.

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Tags: national flood program, Flood, nfip, flood insurance

What is premium fraud?  Or, is garaging location important for insurance?

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Wed, Sep 20, 2017 @ 09:57 AM

Premium fraud refers to misstatements on an insurance application to reduce the cost of insurance.  When premium fraud is discovered by an insurance carrier, they may not pay a claim.

We understand that everyone wants to reduce the cost of their insurance, but making intentional misstatements to manage the cost is risky, and defeats the purpose of the whole effort.

Here's how it might play out, innocently:  Young adult from the suburbs gets a place in town with a friend or two, buys a car, then hears that insurance in the city is a lot more expensive.  "Just say you're still living at home!"   The problem is the "Just say..."

Remember that an insurance policy is a contract. Parties enter into contracts with assumptions that relevant information is available prior to each party entering.  If one party (the insurance buyer) makes a "material misrepresentation" while entering the contract, the other party (the insurance company) has grounds for not having to be held to their obligations. (reminder / disclosure - we are not attorneys; do not construe this as legal advice or opinion). What does this mean for insurance?

The most common occurrence of "material misrepresentation" in retail insurance is the scenario described above with the young adult - garaging location, or where your car spends the night.  Everyone knows that it costs more to insure the same car with the same driver in an urban environment like Boston than it costs in a suburban one. The difference is significant; up to twice as costly from Cape Cod, for example, to Boston.

Here's the rub:  let's assume you are living in Boston and have a collision or comprehensive (vandalism, theft, or other non-moving damage) claim.   If the claim occurs in Boston, but the policy shows a less expensive garaging address, the insurance company will often investigate. After all, if they can show that the owner is living in the city, they might not have to pay the claim.

Every insurance company has an investigation team, commonly called the SIU (Special Investigation Unit).  They are good at what they do, and with big data, their job is getting easier. Initial efforts may begin with a quick Google name search: we have seen reports where participants in athletic events, such as a road race, show their hometown as Boston. There are plenty of other publicly available places online providing clues or outright evidence of where you are living. Then the real investigation begins to prove premium fraud…. which may allow the insurance company to walk.

If an insurance company can demonstrate the contract was entered into fraudulently, for example, by saying you live in the 'burbs when you live in town, their obligation is limited to provide compulsory coverage only: state minimum limits for property damage ($5,000), bodily injury, ($20,000/$40,000), and no collision or comprehensive coverage.  

Providing false information to manage your insurance costs can be not only risky, but extremely counterproductive.

There are plenty of other ways to reduce the cost of your insurance. Just give our office a call toll free at 800-649-3252 and we'll work with you to lower the cost of your insurance while making sure it will be there when you need it.  Prefer to type versus talk?  Click on the top left of this blog.

 

Tags: Premium Fraud, Claim denial, False Garaging

Reasons for a Personal Injury Endorsement on Your Homeowners Policy!

Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

Thu, Jul 13, 2017 @ 04:50 PM

What does Personal Injury mean?

Personal Injury Blog Insurance Norwell MA.jpg

Definition of “Personal Injury” means injury arising out of one or more of the following offenses:

  • False arrest, detention or imprisonment;
  • Malicious prosecution;
  • Wrongful eviction from, wrongful entry into, or invasion of the right of private occupancy of a room, dwelling or premises that a person occupies, committed by or on behalf of its owner, landlord or lessor
  • Oral or written publication of material that slanders or libels a person or organization or disparages a person’s or organization’s goods, products; or
  • An oral or written publication of material that violates a person’s right of privacy.

Personal injury must be done to someone else.

With social media, websites and blogs, anywhere that you could say or write anything about someone else, or a business, there is such a greater chance of your being sued.

Your basic homeowner policy does neither provide this coverage, NOR more importantly does not provide the defense cost associated with being sued.

For less than $100 a year, you could add this protection to your homeowner policy.

Please call us today to see if you have this coverage, or if it is something that we need to add to your policy.

To find out more about a Personal Injury Endorsement, call us at (781) 659-2262 or fill out our Request a Quote page.

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