My name is Patrick Martin. I am the VP of Disaster Planning for Steadfast Disaster Planning, one of the two new divisions of Markham Group. If you've been to our site before, you may have noticed that our website has been going through a bit of a growth spurt while we slowly but surely implement these new divisions into the company. Believe me when I say that this has not been an overnight transition as it has taken many months of planning and adjusting to get things in place. Needless to say, we are extremely pleased with the outcome and we are sure you will be too.
So what does Steadfast Disaster Planning do? Simply put, we provide peace of mind. Now, I realize that this is somewhat of a clichéd term, but there really is no better way to describe the services we provide. Your home and your family are your life. Unfortunately, there are many threats out there that could disrupt these things, potentially destroying your life as you know it. Wouldn't you sleep more soundly at night knowing that you have put every safeguard in place to prepare you and your family for a potential disaster?
From Photo Scanning to Home Inventory, Steadfast Disaster Planning has a suite of services to prepare your household for a disaster and preserve your way of life.
What sets us apart however, is how the services within Steadfast Disaster Planning coordinate and integrate with the Insurance and Financial Services departments of Markham Group. Our different departments are in fact pieces of a much larger puzzle, providing you, the client with an overall planning and protection plan not seen anywhere else.
I encourage you to visit our Steadfast Disaster Planning page to learn of the different services we provide. Please check back to this blog often as we will be introducing and exploring more of the services of Markham Group!
If you would like more information regarding our Disaster Planning Services, you can email me at PatrickM@InsuranceInMass.com or call me at 1-800-971-0800 ext. 317
When getting married for the 2nd or 3rd time, or when combining households there are some things you need to change on your personal insurance policies.
When you get remarried, you are combining two (2) households into one. You will need to increase your personal property coverage on your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure you have adequate coverage. You also want to make sure both names are on the policy. Check with your insurance agent for eligibility.
If you do not own a house or condo, you should have a renter’s insurance policy. The renter’s policy will not only protect all of your personal belongings in the event of a loss, but it will also provide you with liability insurance to protect your combined assets and future combined assets. The cost of a renter’s policy is as low as $150.00 a year.
Umbrella Liability Insurance
Combined households + combined earnings = more to lose! We strongly recommend purchasing an umbrella policy. The umbrella policy will give you additional liability coverage over the liability coverage on your auto and home insurance policies.
When you get remarried, you can combine your auto policies to receive a multi-car discount. Combining the home and auto policies with the same insurance company will give you the best discounts available.
If you are going to keep your auto policies separate, make sure you are both listed as drivers on each policy. You should also include “any and all” household drivers including the children from both spouses. A child away at school is still considered a “household member”. If any household member is not listed on the policy, they will NOT be covered. If the household member has their own Massachusetts Auto insurance policy you will not be charged for adding them to your policy. Be safe and list all household members that have a driver’s license! This would also apply if you not married and living in the same house.
Lastly, change your mailing and garaging address on all auto policies affected by the move.
This article was written by Mindy Lichtman. Mindy is the Personal Lines Advisor at Markham Group, Inc. If you have specific questions about divorce or remarriage and how it affects your insurance in Mass, please do not hesitate to call, email or complete our website contact page.
A divorce is a very stressful time. There are so many changes about to take place in your life. You have so much to do and you may not know where to start. Concerning your auto and homeowners insurance, we have put together some insurance items you will need to consider when going through a divorce.
An important item that will change from a divorce is your liability insurance. Personal liability insurance is insurance that guards the policyholder from legal expenses resulting from a lawsuit. This includes, but is not limited to; attorney fees, damages, pain and suffering resulting from you or a household member’s negligence. Personal liability insurance is included in your home, condo or renters insurance policy. Personal liability will also follow you were ever you go. Homeowners Insurance
- If wife/husband moves out, the insurance will need to be changed to husband/wife’s name with the other as additional insured. This will give the person moving out, liability insurance where the house is concerned until the deed is changed but it will not give them coverage in their new home
- Whoever moves out should get their own policy (home, condo, renters) to cover them for liability and coverage for personal belongings. Even though the home insurance policy might still be in your name, it will not cover any personal belongings that are not left in the house. Nor will it cover you for personal liability that is not related to the house.
- Umbrella policies can be a separate policy or part of the homeowners policy. Umbrella policies can be purchased to increase your liability and protect you in excess of your home and auto policy. If you currently have one, this will also need to be changed. Talk to an insurance agent about this coverage.
- If the car you are taking is not in your name alone, you will have to change the ownership. More important if the car your spouse is driving is in your name, you will want to change ownership to them because of the liability exposure to you (see personal liability definition).
- When you change the ownership on the car, you will have to register it in your name alone and get new plates, registration and title. The title will need to be signed over to you, in order to begin this process. If the car is financed, you will have to “buy” it out either with cash or another loan. There is also a form to complete exempting you from sales tax for the registry.
- Because you are changing ownership on the car, you will have get a state inspection on the vehicle, even if this was just completed.
- If you move, change your address with your insurance agent. An auto claim can be declined if the insurance company does not have your proper garage address.
- You will want to add any new household members as drivers, even if they have their own car and auto insurance. Auto insurance will cover you from a covered loss resulting from an auto accident. If you allow someone to drive your car and they get in an accident causing injury, you can be found liable.
These are only some of the insurance items to consider when getting a divorce. Each individual has their own unique insurance requirements. Some of the items listed above are related to having your Insurance in Mass and do not apply to other states. It is recommended that you meet with your insurance agent and review all the insurance changes that are necessary to properly protect you while making this transition in your life.
This article was written by Mindy Lichtman. Mindy is the Personal Lines Advisor at Markham Group, Inc. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to call or email our office.
The Markham Group website now offers consumers the ability to get an auto insurance quote directly from Commerce Insurance. By clicking on the Commerce Insurance - Request a quote logo, individuals can quickly and easily step through the quote process and get an instant auto insurance quote. Individuals no longer have to wait for the agent to call back later and can get an instant quote immediately.
This feature is only available for individuals with auto insurance in Massachusetts. If you do not have insurance in Mass, you will still have to go to an independent agent of your choice to get an auto insurance quote.
Typcially, I am not a big fan of direct on-line quoting because the consumer does not always make an informed decision when choosing their policy insurance limits. For example, an individual can choose a property damage limit of $50,000. It seems like a reasonable limit, but the individual is unaware of the true costs of property damage to cars, guard rails, telephone poles etc. in the event of a car accident. Also, the individual is not aware that choosing a higher limit of $100,000 or $250,000 is only $2 - $5 more in premium per car.
The Commerce Insurance on-line quoting process is different. Commerce Insurance provides a group of dedicated employees within their insurance center. These dedicated employees are licensed and will be responsible for reviewing coverage, answering questions and assisting the consumer in the binding process of the auto insurance policy. Once an auto insurance policy is bound, it is transferred to the independent agency where the quoting process originally started.
Obviously, Commerce Insurance is not the first company to offer instant auto quoting on-line. The Commerce Insurance consumer portal quoting engine is well designed. The dedicated insurance center helps the consumer make an informed decision, it gives the consumer instant gratification in obtaining a Massachusetts auto insurance quote and keeps the independent agency involved in providing great customer service once the policy is issued.
Plymouth Rock Assurance (PRAC) customers now have easy access from their cell phone to service their PRAC auto insurance policy. Customers have the ability through "Mobile Services" to pay a bill, view their policy, report a claim and make a payment. When you get into a car accident, you can also email your photos directly to PRAC. The "Mobile Services" App will work on any web enabled smart phone by going directly to plymouthrock.com.
The "Mobile Services" site also has the ability to look up your agent contact information. I punched in our Ayer, MA zip code and was suprised to see our updated agency contact information. It was only a week ago that I reported to Plymouth Rock that our agency changed its name from Markham Priest Insurance to Markham Group, Inc.
Plymouth Rock has also introduced an iPhone® App. If you have an iPhone® or iPod Touch®, you can download the App directly from iTunes. A video showing the features of the new iPhone App can be found on the PRAC website. Ideally, I would like to see a dedicated Android App. I checked the Android Market to verify and an App did not exist.
I will keep you informed on any updates from Plymouth Rock Assurance. Over the past year, PRAC has shown it is a leader in using social media and providing mobility services to its customers as compared to other insurance companies. Plymouth Rock can be found on Twitter at @PlymouthRock and on Facebook at Plymouth Rock Assurance.
My next blog will include how you can get insurance in mass auto quote from Plymouth Rock directly from your local insurance agency website.
I hope all our clients have survived the October 2011 storm safely. We are receiving numerous phone calls concerning claims for tree/debris removal, food spoilage and water back-up. Below is a summary of each coverage:
Food Spoilage: Typically, this coverage is available endorsement. Depending on the insurance company, food spoilage coverage is $500 - $1,000 with a small or zero deductible.
Tree/Debris Removal: This coverage varies by endorsement and by insurance company. A standard homeowners policy without endorsements can provide some coverage if the tree hits a covered structure. Again, this depends on the insurance company. With the proper endorsement, the homeowners policy will typically provide tree/debris removal coverage even if the tree did not hit a covered structure. The coverage amount is typically $500 - $1,000 and can be higher depending on the insurance company.
Water Backup Through Sewer, Drains or Sump Pumps: This is available by endorsement only. A standard homeowners insurance policy without the proper endorsement will most likely not provide this coverage. A policy with the proper endorsement will provide $1,000 - $5,000 in water back coverage minus the deductible of the policy.
Please do not hesitate to call our office for additional information and specific details based on your homeowners policy. We are here to help you.
Your home is one of your biggest investments. It is important to protect your home with the best insurance coverage that suits your needs. Your agent can help you to buy the correct amount of coverage and can suggest important coverage enhancements to provide protection that is right for you. If you buy an insurance policy simply based on price, you may not have enough coverage when it's time to make a claim.
Your lender will require you to purchase homeowners insurance. No mortgage company will lend the large amounts of money needed to finance your home without requiring an insurance policy to protect the investment. Below is a list of recommended optional coverages.
Guaranteed Dwelling Replacement Cost Endorsement
Your lender may request that you add the guaranteed dwelling replacement cost endorsement to your policy. This endorsement provides additional protection to the dwelling limit on your policy. If your house is insured for $600,000 and is completely destroyed, your policy will pay up to $600,000 plus an additional 25% or $150,000 to rebuild the house if necessary. Without the endorsement, the policy will pay only $600,000 even if the rebuilding costs are higher. In order to qualify for this endorsement, you need to buy an amount of dwelling coverage equal to 100% of the replacement cost.
Personal Property Replacement Cost Endorsement
Your homeowners policy provides coverage for your personal property such as furniture, clothes, appliances etc. Another important policy endorsement to add is replacement cost coverage for your personal property. A standard homeowners policy will provide coverage on an "actual cash value" basis. If a five-year-old television is stolen from your home, a policy providing actual cash value coverage will pay the claim minus 5 years of depreciation. If you have the personal property replacement cost endorsement, the five-year-old stolen television will be replaced with a new television similar to the old one without deduction for depreciation.
Open Peril Type Coverage For Your Personal Property
A standard homeowners policy provides coverage for your personal property on a named peril or named risk basis. A named-perils policy covers only those losses specifically listed in your homeowners policy. An open peril type policy or special form works the opposite way -- unless a peril is specifically excluded, coverage is provided. This policy is broader and this means that your personal property is covered in most situations, regardless of the cause of loss. Ask your agent about specific exclusions that apply.
Valuable Items Plus Endorsement
A standard homeowners policy provides limited coverage for items such as jewelry, money, silverware, fine arts, furs, cameras, firearms, musical instruments and home computers. For example, a diamond ring may be covered for theft at a limit of only $1,000. If you were to misplace your diamond ring or lose the diamond from the setting, your policy will not provide coverage. A valuable items endorsement will provide coverage on the value of your ring on an all-risk basis and without a deductible.
The key to getting the best homeowners insurance protection is to ask your agent questions about how to modify a standard "off the shelf" policy so that it will provide coverage designed for your specific needs. If you have a question, please do not hesitate to call our office.
Markham Priest Insurance is going green! As an agency, we are focusing our efforts to reduce our overall paper consumption and to create a paperless office. All our future insurance policies will be scanned and emailed to our clients.
All our electronic policies are stored in a secure, offsite location. Your past and present policies are always available when you need a copy.
We are excited about this effort because less paper equates to efficiency, compliance, reduces overall cost and improves business continuity.
If you have any questions about our going green initiative, please do not hesitate to call or email our office.
Ten years ago, Markham Priest Insurance had one (1) or two (2) insurance carriers that required us to run insurance scores before processing an application for homeowners insurance. Today, all our carriers require us to determine the applicant’s insurance score in order to meet underwriting guidelines.
An insurance score is a numerical ranking based on a person’s credit history. Actuarial studies show that how a person manages his or her financial affairs is a good indicator of future insurance claims. The insurance industry has data that shows that a person’s financial responsibility, financial stability and financial stress are factors that affect insurance claims. These financial factors can translate to stability in other areas of your life, driving safety and deferral of home/auto maintenance. Insurance scores are used by insurance carriers to objectively and accurately anticipate claims and thus charge a premium that is appropriate for the risk they are insuring.
The State of Massachusetts allows insurance scoring for homeowners insurance. If an applicant has a very high insurance score, some insurance carriers will provide additional discounts on the homeowner's policy. For some carriers, insurance scoring is used only to determine if the risk (applicant) is eligible to obtain insurance based on underwriting guidelines. If an applicant has a very low insurance score, he or she will not meet the underwriting guidelines of the homeowner’s carriers and will have to obtain insurance through the Massachusetts Fair Plan.
The State of Massachusetts does not allow insurance scoring for auto insurance. I am unsure if this will change in the future. The new "managed competition" system for auto insurance has brought new companies that are notorious for relying on a person's credit-score, education and occupation to determine the auto insurance premium. As of today, auto insurance premiums are based solely a person's driving record and years of experience.
Back in February 2011, I wrote a blog about various auto/driving apps available to download on your smart phone. I want to inform you of a new smartphone app called Speedbump™ that keeps your kids safe on the road. Speedbump™ will monitor the driver behavior of any vehicle your teenage son or daughter is in and report any incidents of unsafe driving.
The Speedbump™ app allows you to set and monitor the speed limits on local, secondary and primary roads. An alert is instantly sent to you if your teen is in a speeding car.
Currently, the Speedbump™ app is available for Android phones only. Additional information including a video on how the app works can be found at http://www.wirelessesp.com/
The product is currently offered for free on the Android Market. The app was created locally in Lunenburg Massachusetts. Please download the app and give it a try!