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    Personal Insurance Blog

    Will Naming Winter Storms Affect Your Deductible?

    Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

    Wed, Feb 20, 2013 @ 08:10 AM

    Cover your home and car for winter storms with homeowners and auto insurance from andrew gordon incWho’s bright idea was it to name winter storms? Nemo? Really? I don’t know about you, but Nemo just doesn’t quite ring right. The Blizzard of 1978 conjures up powerful imagery of the superstorm of all winter superstorms. All I can say is our recent brush with Mother Nature will forever be the Blizzard of 2013 to me.  

    The Weather Channel apparently decided to name winter storms  in a bid to boost public awareness and coordinate response efforts. Guess I will never get use to winter storms being named after Disney characters. First, there is Nemo. What comes next?  Will a future storm be called “The Little Mermaid”?  Where will it end??

    Okay, to be fair, Nemo was not named after a Disney character, but rather from the Greek name meaning “from the valley” or “nobody” in Latin.  Or perhaps Nemo is named after Captain Nemo, aka Prince Dakkar from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Regardless, I still don’t see the connection with a blizzard.

    Once possible outcome of this seemingly innocuous public relations move to name winter storms is the possibility that insurance companies could apply a higher named storm deductible for damage from a named storm. While I have not seen this happen, it’s a possibility if a carrier carries policy wording that applies a higher deductible for damage from a storm which is named by the National Weather Service or any other recognized meteorological authority. The question remains if the Weather Channel is a recognized meteorological authority by insurers.

    The Weather Channel apparently decided to name winter storms  in a bid to boost public awareness and coordinate response efforts. The Weather Channel announced that in addition to providing information about significant winter storms by referring to them by name, the name itself will make communication and information sharing in the constantly expanding world of social media much easier. As an example, Twitter hash tagging a storm (#Nemo) based on its name provides a one-stop shop to exchange all of the latest information on the impending high-impact weather system.

    The naming of winter storms may have been a PR move by The Weather Channel but the naming could have broader implications within the insurance industry. The intent of a named storm deductible was to apply to tropical storms nearing hurricane strength. #Nemo and his successors open the door for some insurers to apply a higher deductible because now there is a name attached to a blizzard.

    Fortunately, we have not seen a change in deductible practices with any of our carriers as result of winter storm naming. I do not foresee this changing but it’s an interesting twist to the named storm debate. Regardless, our most recent storm will always be #Blizzard2013 to me.

    If you have more insurance questions, feel free to contact us here at Gordon Insurance by clicking the button below.

    INSURANCE QUESTION?  Winter Storm Center

    Tags: winter, insurance, storms, changes, nemo, blizzard, deductible, named

    RMV: Automated Licensing and Registration System Change

    Posted by Sue Bird

    Tue, Jan 15, 2013 @ 04:40 PM

    Learn about changes at the massachusetts rmv and insure your automobile with auto insurance from andrew gordon incThe Registry of Motor Vehicles is implementing a new system replacing the antiquated A.L.A.R.S. (Automated Licensing and Registration System) that has been in use since 1986!

    The Registry is looking for a more efficient and cost effective system to assist consumers and partners in law enforcement, dealerships, and the insurance industry. They hope to have more online functions available for the public, but if you have a registration transaction that still needs to go to the Registry, remember that Andrew G. Gordon, Inc. provides free runner service to our clients.

    To view the RMV's press release, click this link. The article discusses how the 27 year old system is in need of replacement and how the new system will benefit everybody involved.

    Be sure to listen to the 95.9 WATD interview with RMV Registrar Rachel Kaprielian by clicking the link here.

    We feel it is our duty to keep our customers informed of changes with the RMV. This change will affect you in a positive way, and let's hope that the wave of the future continues to improve the way things are done around.

    If you have any further questions related to the RMV, auto insurance, or any other type of insurance, feel free to contact us. To get an auto quote, click the button below. We'll find the best possible selection for you and your insurance needs. Learn more about auto insurance here.


    Sue Bird

    Tags: auto, rmv, new, automated registering and licensing system, alarms, ma, changes, systems

    Flood Zone Changes Affect Thousands of Homeowners in Massachusetts

    Posted by Val Feeney

    Thu, Oct 25, 2012 @ 04:52 PM

    This past July the Federal Emergency Management Association, otherwise known as FEMA, came to Massachusetts to review every community’s flood zone maps.  FEMA is in charge of mapping the entire country’s flood zones. These flood zones determine if your property is susceptible to a flood and the likelihood of it happening. After reviewing the flood zone maps, FEMA made thousands of changes, placing many previously low-risk neighborhoods into high-risk flood zones. 

    Be aware of the massachusetts flood zone changes with andrew gordon inc insurance norwell maMany homeowners on the coast of Massachusetts, most notably Hingham to Wareham, had their flood zone changed from “Outside the 100 Year Flood Plain” to “Inside the 100 Year Flood Plain.” This triggered a red flag on their mortgage or home credit line at their bank.  Banks require anyone “Inside the 100 year Flood Plain” (also known as SFHA – Special Flood Hazard Area) with a loan to have a flood policy on the home for the amount of the loan or for a maximum of $250,000, whichever comes first. 

    A flood policy for a home inside a flood zone (for $250,000) can be extremely expensive, and the bank expects the flood policy to be put in place within 30 days of notice, leaving many homeowners in a serious bind. Flood policies typically need to be paid in full at the time of issue. However, these homeowners have options.

    If the flood zone was changed from a non flood zone (C or X) to a flood zone (A, AE, VE, to name a few), the homeowner can get flood insurance based on the old zone for up to 2 years, under FEMA’s Preferred Risk Program. However, the rate may change from year 1 to year 2.  The home is ushered  into the program using the old zone to allow the homeowner time to save enough money for the new policy, or to hire an engineer to do an Elevation Certificate on the property. An Elevation Certificate can prove that the property is elevated enough above the flood zone, that it will never be touched by a flood. An example of this is a home on a hill or bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 

    Flood Insurance under the Preferred Risk Program is very reasonable, typically between $300-$1,000 for the year, and will cover $250,000 in building coverage and $100,000 in contents coverage.  

    Many banks are just now catching up to the flood zone changes from July, putting many homeowners on the South Shore of Massachusetts in this very scenario. 

    We have a flood resources page prepared just for you. If you have any questions about your insurance, contact us

    INSURANCE QUESTION? Home Quote Request
    Val Feeney

    Tags: home, insurance, FEMA, Marshfield, massachusetts, South Shore, ma, hingham, Flood, zone, changes, Coastal

    How Do Flood Map Changes Affect Flood Insurance Costs?

    Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

    Fri, Jul 20, 2012 @ 10:20 AM

    The flood maps changes in many Massachusetts communities means your flood risk may become higher or lower. This will  affect what you pay for flood insurance.

    Flood maps have become more accurate over the past several years as mapping technology has improved and Congress has determined to transition away from highly subsidized rates.

    Here are some scenarios that explain different flood map changes:   

    Scenario 1:  If the flood maps change from a low or moderate risk to high risk (flood zone B, C, or X) to zone A, AE, AR, A99, AH or AO).

    These requirements and options apply to Scenario 1 according to the National Flood Insurance Program:

    • Flood insurance is mandatory for most mortgage holders. Insurance costs may rise to reflect the true (high) risk.
    • Protect yourself from loss with flood insurance from andrew gordon inc norwell maThe Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) Eligibility Extension Program can offer savings. To ease a homeowner's transition from a moderate-to-low risk area to a high-risk area, which would require the mandatory purchase of flood insurance (if you have a mortgage) and an increase in flood insurance costs, the National Flood Insurance Program is extending eligibility for the lower-cost Preferred Rate Policy to properties that were remapped on or after October 1, 2008.
    • "Grandfathering" can offer savings, but is changing from the 'good old days' when you could lock a highly subsidized rate.  The National Flood Insurance Program has rules to recognize policyholders who built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction or who maintain continuous coverage. Sometimes, though, using the new flood maps can actually result in a lower premium, especially if the home is high enough above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). In addition, buildings newly mapped into a high-risk area may be eligible for the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) for two years after a map change, before they grandfather in the lower-risk zone rates. 

    Scenario 2: The flood maps show a change from high flood risk zone to a low or moderate risk (flood zone A, AE, AR, A99, AH, AO to X or shaded X)

    Insure your assets with flood insurance from andrew gordon inc norwell maThese requirements or options apply:

    • Flood insurance is optional but recommended. The risk has only been reduced, not removed. Flood insurance can still be obtained, and at lower rates. Even though flood insurance isn't federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. People outside of high-risk areas file over 20% of NFIP claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding. When available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you repay with interest.
    • Conversion offers savings. An existing policy can be easily converted to a lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy if the building qualifies. Note that lenders always have the option to require flood insurance in these areas. 

    Scenario 3: The flood maps show an increase in the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).

    These requirements or options apply to scenario 3.

    • An increase in BFE can result in higher premiums; however, "grandfathering" can offer savings. The National Flood Insurance Program grandfathering rules allow policyholders who have built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction to keep the earlier base flood elevation to calculate their insurance rate. This could result in significant savings.

    Scenario 4: No change in flood zone risk level .

    These requirements or options apply.

    • There may be a change in insurance rates.  Higher rates apply to secondary homes, homes with severe repeated losses, and business property.  It is still a good time to review your amounts to ensure that your building and contents are adequately protected. 

    Our agency is happy to assist with securing or reviewing flood insurance coverage. Learn more about your flood insurance options here


    Tags: insurance, Flood, nfip, maps, map, zone, changes, national flood insurance program

    What is a Flood Elevation Certificate?

    Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

    Fri, Jun 15, 2012 @ 09:20 AM

    Understand what a flood elevation certificate is and cover your house with homeowners from Andrew Gordon Inc Insurance Norwell MA

    What is an elevation certificate?

    An elevation certificate is a document prepared by a qualified engineer / surveyor which provides information on:

    • elevation of a building relative to mean high tide
    • building type
    • flood map location
    • additional information used to determine the proper flood insurance premium rates for a property

    An elevation certificate measures the difference in elevation between your home and the base flood elevation of your area.  It is now being required to rate certain post-FIRM buildings properly: buildings constructed after the publication of the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) in a particular community, in certain high risk zones including:  A1-A30, AE, AH, A (with BFE), VE, V1-V30, V (with BFE), AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/A1-A30, AR/AH, and AR/AO. However, an elevation certificate is generally not required to buy flood coverage for pre-FIRM buildings (roughly pre-1970 in this area) except to see if the cost could be lower.   For some homeowners, the certificate may save significant flood insurance premiums long-term.

    What are the requirements?

    The elevation certificate must be signed and sealed by a land surveyor, engineer or architect authorized by law to certify such information. Most elevation certificates are prepared by surveyors licensed by the state in which the subject property is located.

    How do I get an Elevation Certificate?

    There are several local qualified surveyors / engineers here on the South Shore who can create flood certificates for you.  The process is fairly direct: they dispatch a survey team whose first job is to locate a certified elevation marker near the property.  Once a good benchmark is established, they measure the elevation of the land adjacent to the property, including notes on what may be fill.  Once the lowest and highest adjacent grade are determined, they measure floor heights, note location of mechanical systems (such as in the basement), floor elevations, and so forth.  The National Flood insurance Program (NFIP) has its own set of metrics to distinguish walk-out basements, piles, flood openings, and other characteristics.

    When the surveyors return to their office, the surveyed property is overlaid onto the appropriate flood maps.  Properties in V-zones usually require special underwriting review than A-zone or low risk zone properties.  V-zones designate "velocity" of wave action and location data is often more complicated.

    How much does an Elevation Certificate cost?

    An elevation certificate costs from $600 to 1200, depending on location. This may depend on proximity to a NFIP approved benchmark, the flood zone (Zone V generally involves more time in research), and complexity of the property.  What you're paying for is the professional's time to make measurements in a format acceptable to the National Flood Insurance Program.

    Here's why you should get one now: 

    The NFIP is trying to get to true risk-based rates as quickly as possible.  Some homeowners have been required to get a flood elevation certificate if located in A or V zones. Without the certificate for A or V zones, the rates will go up based on worst case scenario rates. The NFIP uses a better set of rates when the elevation certificate is supplied.

    Getting the elevation certificate is advised for anyone located in an A or V zone. This way you know where you stand so you may take charge of the cost of your flood insurance. If you find your property is rated below base flood elevation, there may be ways to mitigate this. Obtaining the elevation certificate is the starting point to evaluate what measures may be taken to reduce your flood insurance premium.

    For questions on your policy and whether or not you need an elevation certificate, click below, call 800-649-3252 or drop us an email; one of our experts here at Gordon Insurance will get right back to you. Get a coastal insurance ebook here

    Home Quote Request Coastal Insurance  eBook  

    Tags: program, insurance, national, elevation, certificate, Flood, nfip, map, zone, changes

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