We can help with any of your questions – here are some of the most popular that come to us:
How do I review my policy?
Just call us!
Do I need to carry additional insurance for a nanny or au pair?
Employees in your home are not generally covered by homeowners’ insurance. So if you have regular household help, especially if they are driving your vehicles, you need extra insurance. Nannies or au pairs should be added to your auto policy, for example, if they regularly drive your car. You also need worker’s compensation insurance, and possibly extra liability insurance. If they get hurt on the job, you are liable for medical care and lost wages, so the insurance protects you as well as your employee. In addition, make sure any contractors working on your home or yard also have the proper insurance. Talk to one of our team about all your questions about employees in your home.
When do I need renters insurance?
Renters’ insurance generally covers fire, theft and other loss of property in a rental since personal belonging inside an apartment would not be covered by any insurance the property owner has. Expensive items (such as a bicycle) may be over coverage limits, so if you’ve just invested in a shiny new TV, phone or laptop, you’ll need to check on those details.
Renters’ insurance can also give you liability coverage if someone is injured in the apartment. Note that if you’re sharing the apartment with a spouse or other family member and they have insurance, you are generally covered, but if you are not related to your roommate, you’ll need your own policy. Contact one of the team for questions about renters’ insurance.
Is my child in the dorm covered under my homeowners' policy?
If you have a child under 26 living in a dorm or campus housing, your policy will likely cover them if you have off-premises coverage, but generally at a much lower level (such as 10% of your coverage limit). And not all policies extend to living elsewhere, If they are living off-campus, then renters’ insurance is a must as they are no longer protected by your own homeowners insurance. If your child is off to college, it’s a good time to check your coverage and add a rider if needed. Dorm insurance policies typically have lower deductibles and costs so can make more sense than a claim on your own homeowners’ policy
Is my swimming pool covered under my homeowners’ insurance?
It depends on your policy and the type of damage, so while a lightning strike or tree branch might be covered, long-term neglect or wear and tear might not be. Pools are usually covered under an “other structures” portion. Typical ones don’t include liability for accidents arising from your (or others) use of the pool unless there is a specific rider. Some insurers won’t cover pools with diving boards or slides. Make sure your insurance covers your pool and the liability for using it. You may want to also consider carrying excess liability or an umbrella policy even if you don’t often have visitors using it. Insurers consider pools to be an “attractive nuisance,” for which the homeowner is responsible, even if someone climbed your fence.
Do I need flood insurance?
If you live in a flood plain, your mortgage lender will require it, but it’s worth knowing that a quarter of flood claims are for properties not in a flood plain. Typically a homeowners’ policy does not cover either floods or earthquakes (although it would cover damage from a storm that damaged your roof). Federal insurance has a limit on the cost of replacing your house and possessions, (meaning you’ll need a supplemental policy) and has a 30 day waiting period. Costs vary depending on your home’s value, whether the policy covers just the structure or its contents, and your flood risk. We can help answer your questions about flood insurance and policies that will make you secure in knowing you’re protected from high water.
What are some easy things to do to lower the cost of my homeowners’ insurance?
Start with a comprehensive review from your agent to see what your risks and requirements are. You might have coverage you don’t need. You should also make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Insurance that seems like a bargain at first glance could end up costing you in the long run because it doesn’t give you enough coverage.
One of the easiest ways to lower cost without lowering coverage, however, is looking for discounts, such as those typically offered if you have your home and auto policies with the same insurance company. Insurers usually offer discounts for items such as deadbolt locks or a security system. Also consider raising your deductible. A shift even from $250 to $500 can lower your premium costs by five percent. Talk to us about other ways to develop the most cost-effective homeowners’ coverage.
Am I covered when I rent or borrow a vehicle?
Personal auto policies generally cover drivers who have your permission to drive the car, so as longer as the “loaner” has the right comprehensive and collision insurance, a “borrower” should be fine.
However when you are renting, it can get more tricky. While the personal comprehensive and collision portions of personal (not commercial) auto policies generally cover physical damage when you are renting a vehicle for personal use, it might not if you are renting for work.
Generally if you have adequate health insurance, good liability and medical payments coverage on your auto insurance, and off-premises coverage on your homeowners or renters insurance, you can decline the Personal Accident Insurance, Liability, and Personal Effects Coverage portions at the rental car counter.
If you’re traveling for business, or renting a more expensive car then you typically drive, then you might consider the collision/loss damage waiver. If you don’t actually own a car, the supplemental liability is also a good idea.
Commercial vehicle policies, however, differ. A business vehicle policy won’t extend protection to rental cars unless specifically amended to include hired and rental cars, so you would definitely need that collision/loss coverage.
All policies vary, so contact IIS to ensure you know in advance that you’re covered when you travel.
What’s the difference between collision and comprehensive physical damage car insurance?
Collision Physical Damage coverage covers just that—damage that occurs if your auto collides with another vehicle or even a stationary object. So hitting a car in a parking lot is covered under your collision protection. Comprehensive Physical Damage is applied for other kinds of damage, such as theft, vandalism, or items such as hail damage.
Do I need commercial plates?
Laws vary by state, but in Massachusetts, vehicles that have permanent or even temporary lettering (such as a magnetic sign) are required to have commercial plates. Trucks and vans used to transport materials to and from job sites also need commercial plates. Smaller vehicles may also require plates if they are used to transport or store goods more than 40% of the time. If you often travel out of state, you might need additional licensing. Contact us for more details.
What should I know about long-term care insurance?
Long-term care insurance is a shrinking market, with both the numbers of insurers and those buying policies declining, even though the cost of a nursing home in a large metro area such as Boston can be over $140,000 a year. Most long-term claims are due to illness. Whether the possibility of long-term care insurance makes financial sense varies depending on your health and financial situation, and our team can discuss whether this or other insurance options are right for you.
What are considerations for disability insurance?
Disability insurance falls into two camps: short-term and long-term (typically over 6 months), and provide a portion of the income of your salary (generally 60% for long-term disability). What happens if you are unable to work? Social Security benefits will likely kick in after a year, but usually with fairly low payments. The essential question boils down to: can you and family afford to go for months or even years without an earner’s paycheck or if your business has to close? If, like most people, the answer is no, consider both long-term and short-term disability. Many people can purchase disability as a benefit option through their employers, but if you are self-insured or considering policies for your employees, talk to the IIS team about options and pitfalls that include coverage for business owners, renewal policies, waiting periods, and lifetime caps.
What’s better - whole-life or term-life insurance?
Term Life provides coverage for a specific period of time (the term), such as 10, 20 or 30 years, and are sometimes renewable or extendable or convertible to whole life. This type of insurance may be better for those worried about providing for young children than for an older worker with a working spouse, for example. Whole life insurance provides coverage for an entire lifetime and builds cash value that can often be borrowed. Other kinds of permanent life insurance include universal, variable and variable universal. Whole life typically requires a medical exam. It is also generally more expensive initially, but not always if held for a long period of time. Which is best depends on your health, age, age of your children, need for savings or long-term health expenses, a mortgage, estate planning, and many other factors. Your IIS broker can help answer your questions, assess your situation, and recommend a life insurance plan that is best for you and your family now and in the future.
What are some insurance considerations for my business?
Business and commercial insurance needs vary widely, so there is no single answer. But generally business need general liability for performance of services (especially healthcare professionals); if producing goods or products, product liability; general property coverage (fire, theft, etc.); automobile policies if you use cars or other vehicles; and coverage for business interruptions. If you have employees, then you have a host of additional items to consider from workman’s comp to health insurance and other benefits. IIS can assess your situation and recommend the best coverage and strategies to protect your business—large or small.
What is a personal umbrella liability policy?
Umbrella liability provides additional protection for injuries, property damage, lawsuits and other claims over the coverage limits of an auto or home policy. It protects for the cost of items not covered by homeowners insurance, such as attorney’s fees. Umbrella policies used to be considered largely for wealthy individuals, but are increasingly in demand for everyone. For example, if you own a swimming pool the extra protection of an umbrella policy can protect your home and assets from the costs of a lawsuit.