auto insurance norwell MA gordon atlantic insurance homeowners insurance norwell MA gordon atlantic life insurance norwell MA gordon atlantic boat insurance norwell ma gordon atlantic business insurance norwell ma gordon atlantic
         Auto Insurance          Home Insurance           Life Insurance           Boat Insurance      Business Insurance

Personal Insurance Blog

Do insurance companies charge for “Not-at-fault” accidents?

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 10:50 AM

Short answer is yes, most insurance companies do add a charge for accidents even when you are less than 50% at-fault. 

Most national companies have included this as a risk factor for years.  When national insurance carriers came in to Massachusetts, they employed risk factors that improved their models, as long as they didn’t violate existing state regulations.   One prohibited risk factor is the use of credit scoring for pricing auto insurance.  Used in 49 other states, here credit cannot be used as a rating factor for your auto insurance costs.  But “Not-at-fault” accidents can be.

Gordon Truck accident  claimThe practice of charging for not-at-fault accidents Is relatively new in Massachusetts for traditional Massachusetts-only carriers.  But models here have followed the national model more closely ever since ‘managed competition’ was introduced in 2009.  

Why do they charge when I’m not at fault?

“At-fault” in Massachusetts has been the metric where all you need was for the other driver to be 51% or more at fault, and you were good.   They get the points, and you don’t.   This is reflected in the “Standards-of-Fault,  a boiling down of nearly a century of traffic case law, to identify “If XYZ happens, then the driver is assumed to be more than 50% at-fault.”  These standards still matter when at-fault points are assigned, so they’re worth knowing.  What they fail to acknowledge adequately is ‘contributory negligence’.

Contributory negligence acknowledges the reality that most accidents are not completely black and white.  More often we see 70-30, 60-40 or some other variation other than 100% - 0%, such as when someone hits your legally parked car.

What role does subrogation play?   (What is Subrogation?)

Subrogation is the process where, after the accident bills have been paid, the insurance company lawyers settle up.   For example, suppose I run a stop sign and hit your car.    You go to your insurance company; they pay the collision and your rental while your car is being fixed.  Once that claim is paid, your insurance company comes to my company and says, YOUR driver (meaning me) caused this accident where we paid collision and rental.  Here’s our bill.   If my company declines to pay, they go to court and a judge says, ‘Pay the bill’ to my carrier.   Since everybody knows this, they rarely go to court and resolve these issues based on known documented factors.    

Let’s look at a more common example.  Suppose I come through a ‘yield’ sign; but it’s dusk and you don’t have your headlights on.    Assuming the same damage as in the previous example, my company could argue that you were 30% at fault for driving without headlights at dusk.  So they pay only 70% of the bill.   This process involves lots of dollars, so both sides take these negotiations seriously.   Some insurance companies do a better job than others.

One of our carriers only makes a risk charge if the at-fault cost share is greater than $1,000.  We like this approach as it ignores smaller accidents especially when you contributed less to the accident.

What can I do as a driver?

Practice defensive driving.    If you’re in an accident, document it.  Get a picture of the other driver’s license and registration.  Take pictures of damage to both vehicles, and note the time (especially dusk or dawn), and road conditions.  Complete your operators report as quickly as possible so you remember details, and document them.  Imagine your insurance company subrogation advocate looking for reasons to pay the other carrier less. This might result in no effect on your future rates.

Tags: car accidents, reducing risk, subrogation, contributory negligence, Not-at-fault, fault

Home Safety Reminders for the Holidays

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Tue, Nov 20, 2018 @ 02:54 PM

holiday luminaries pic 2018

The holiday season is a busy time, and that busy-ness can make us unaware of dangers that lurk in plain sight. Here's a partial list of things to be mindful of in the season of lights and cold weather.  We've seen these conditions turn bad, and we want you to enjoy all this particular time of year offers.

While electrical fires are less common today than they were before circuit breakers and GFI plugs, let's be reminded that electricity does generate heat. Thus:

  • Don't leave candles unattended. Melting wax is an accelerant, and every year over the holidays the local news has a story or two of a burned out home from forgotten candles left lit.
  • Turn off Christmas tree lights whenever you leave the house.
  • Don't pile too many lines into a single socket; overuse of a socket can generate too much heat.

Fireplaces warm the room, and our hearts, but a friendly fire and a hostile fire are two very different things.  Our old house has seven working fireplaces, so these tips come from real experience:
  • Never vacuum ashes from a fireplace unless they are fully cold to the touch. If you've ever sucked up a single small spark into a vacuum you've seen how oxygen being blown through a bag of dust can turn that spark hot and hostile in seconds (and the smoke it emits smells really bad – this one from an early lifetime, memorable, fireplace experience).
  • When cleaning ashes, don't collect when warm to the touch, NEVER in a paper bag,and never leave them the house or garage. Store in a metal container and place it outside  (ashes spread over packed down snow improve footing, by the way).
  • If the fireplace does not have a safety door or fireplace screen to prevent sparks from escaping, stay close. Nothing like a burning log rolling out onto the floor turning friendly to hostile.

We cook and bake a lot over the holidays. Checklist items from the kitchen include:

  • Is the oven off when you leave the house?
  • Are children around? Turn pot handles in and move knives safely out of reach. 
  • Are the kitchen smoke detectors operating properly? If battery operated, go ahead and change those batteries now.

Finally, is your best friend during an emergency fire nearby and quickly located? We're talking about fire extinguishers here. Now is a good time to check the expiration date or pressure charge indicator.  A First Alert fire extinguisher is about $20 on Amazon or your local hardware store.

Now go and enjoy the best of the season, be with friends and family, and be thankful for all we have.

To discuss any of the above with respect to your own insurance program, please don't hesitate to call the Gordon Atlantic Insurance professionals toll free at 1-800-649-3252. Prefer to type versus talk? Use the form at the left of this blog.


Tags: home safety, fires, Christmas tree lights, holiday safety, fireplace safety, oven safety, smoke detectors, candle safety

2018 California Fires

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Tue, Nov 20, 2018 @ 02:25 PM

The devastation in California has already taught us a few hard lessons. First, some statistics as of Tuesday, November 20th, 2018:

  • The Camp Fire has consumed over 150,000 acres and is now 70% contained. Over 12,620 residences have been destroyed and over 480 businesses have burned down. Loss of life is at 77.
  • The Woolsey Fire in southern California has burned over 96,000 acres and over 1,500 structures. Loss of life is at three.
  • Insured losses stand now at about $14 billion, and are expected to exceed 2017's record number (also $14 billion).
  • Many homes are inadequately insured, particularly as "demand surge" has driven up construction costs about 30% since the fire. Required code upgrades are often overlooked in calculating insurance values.

CA Wildfire Pic_Firefighter 2018

While these losses will affect earnings of large insurers like AIG and Chubb, analysts don't expect the fires to affect capital ratios significantly. This means their financial stability should remain secure.

Given these losses are on the heels of the 2017 season, insurance costs will indeed rise in California and underwriting standards will become more stringent. We don't expect much effect on rates here in the northeast that are not already baked into reinsurance rates (the insurance that insurance companies buy).

Local businesses in the affected regions won't fare well. Beyond loss of buildings there will be significant loss of inventory, lost income, and major labor disruptions. The areas affected will take time to rebuild and many people will simply move.

California's utility company PG&E has been cited as the source of the Camp Fire. Their potential liability was cited as $20 billion in a recent report in BusinessInsurance; with a market value of $22 billion how that liability plays out will take time.

The human displacement is similar to the Caribbean or southern or coastal United States after a major hurricane.  Among the commercial buildings destroyed was a hospital. When we hear on the news that people have lost everything, this can mean homes, personal effects and memorabilia, cars, jobs...and most tragically, loved ones.  

If you are inclined to make a donation to help, there are several reputable organizations helping, including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

To discuss any of the above with respect to your own insurance program, please don't hesitate to call the Gordon Atlantic Insurance professionals toll free at 1-800-649-3252. Prefer to type versus talk? Use the form to the left of this blog.



Tags: California fires, home loss, devastation, forest fire, life loss

Halloween (the movie) & Minimizing Risk

Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

Thu, Oct 25, 2018 @ 05:09 PM

Halloween Pumpkin Pic

The latest remake of the 1978 original “Halloween” horror flick surprised a few people with its opening weekend sales of $77 million! This was more than double the formerly highest grossing “Halloween” movie ($26 million its opening weekend in 2007). Looking at these large dollar figures, it seems that people like to get scared more in a group (such as in a theatre) than at home. What’s the appeal? When things go wrong…when things get scary…there is comfort in numbers.

Numbers provide a measure of predictability and certainty to a situation. On the other hand, unpredictability and uncertainty are at the core of risk, which causes us stress. With theatres under tremendous competition from streaming providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the horror theme seems to be well positioned to scare a bunch of people together.

In our homes, we can minimize uncertainty of seasonal changes by preparing our homes for cold weather beginning in the fall, and prompted by setting our clocks back. Here's a short list for a Saturday after Halloween:

  • Clean gutters (or hire a handyman for this)
  • close all sill cocks (outside water faucets) from inside (to prevent freezing)
  • inspect the chimney liner if you burn wood - let a chimney company do this)
  • change air filters for air based heat,
  • check around windows for any caulking needs

Also, review the checkups we should do twice a year (when we put our clocks forward or back):

  • Check tags and location of fire extinguishers (can you locate a fire extinguisher right now?)
  • Change out the batteries on smoke and CO2 detectors
  • Has your family makeup changed such that a review of your family's disaster exit plan should be updated?

There's also value in numbers, including the number of people at Gordon Atlantic standing behind your insurance, and who have experience with risk reduction, claims mitigation, and claims handling. Always let us know how we can reduce the cost of risk (uncertainty and unpredictability) in your world.

Call to speak to a Gordon Atlantic Insurance professional by calling 1-800-649-3252. Prefer to type versus talk? Click below.


Tags: Halloween, risk, safety, seasonal, safety tips, minimizing risk, scary movie, uncertainty

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Reauthorized through November 13, 2018

Posted by Antonia Clifford

Wed, Aug 01, 2018 @ 02:45 PM

Senate has approved an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, ensuring it will be operational through November 20, 2018.  All the Program rules and regulations will remain in force and unchanged, and all transactions will continue to be processed.


Flood 080118

If the Senate had not acted, the NFIP would have expired on July 31st.  The final vote was 86-12 in favor of keeping it authorized an additional four months.  

To discuss your Flood Policy in particular or the Program in general, call the Gordon Atlantic Insurance professionals toll free at 1-800-649-3252.  Prefer to type versus talk?  Use the form to the left of this blog.


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

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  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 ( 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  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. 


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.



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
  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.



Tags: Water damage

Latest Posts

Have a Question?