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Jul 5 11

Insuring Condominium Associations

by Mark Shaw

The largest problem with insuring condominium associations today is the many different condominium documents that exist out there from the original builder/developer and the attorney who wrote those documents. That creates the misconception on behalf of the Board Members who are attempting to do the right thing in securing the building(s) replacement cost coverage. The difference between the “all in to the inside wall surface” coverage versus the inside studs defining the unit owners coverage can be quite a difference in annual premium.  Therefore, when we place your association coverage with carriers like Norfolk & Dedham, Unionmutual Fire Ins., etc. we look for the capability to add the “all in” endorsement. This lowers the individual unit owner’s policy. Make sure that you revisit that individual policy to cover at least the amount of the association’s building deductible and consider adding any improvements and betterments that you have made to your own individual unit to the individual building coverage. This may be covering an improved bathroom, kitchen, or mural on a wall that makes your individual unit unique. The unit owner should request all risk building unit owner coverage for their own policy. This protects them in a potential claim that it denied by the association but may be considered under the individual unit owners policy.

Make sure for the units that are rented to others that you require those tenants  secure apartment coverage to cover their belongings as well as their tenant liability coverage exposure. This would include pets,golfing, and other liability issues.

Call us with any questions.

Apr 13 11

What should you do if you have an auto accident.

by Mark Shaw

If you have injuries and/or $1000 in vehicle damage you should go either to the local Police station, or download from the Registry website an operator’s report, or call our office so we can fax,email, or mail you the report. The form should be done in triplicate – one to the local police in the town that the accident happened, one to the Registry and one to be submitted to your insurance carrier(either directly or through our office).

If you are contacted by the other carrier it is important that you cooperate with them and answer their questions accurately. Many times they are just confirming that the accident happened the way that their client said. Pretend that it was your carrier contacting the other party who rear-ended you and if that party did not respond that would affect how fast you are paid for your damage.

If you chose not to purchase rental reimbursement coverage from your carrier and you know who hit you, you may be able to obtain a rental from the carrier responsible for the accident. If your carrier has appraised your damage, then the other carrier will want to see that estimate before authorizing rental coverage for you. That appraisal usually notes the estimated # of days it should take to repair your car’s damage. That is the amount of days that you are asking for, for the rental. When your vehicle is being repaired, the auto body may find additional damage and will amend that original estimate with a supplemental figure which increases your claim amount. The auto body may have you sign an authorization to pay the auto body direct from the insurance carrier instead of mailing you the check.

Mar 28 11

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

by Mark Shaw

Coverage #3 on your Massachusetts Auto Policy deals with you being hit by someone who is uninsured. According to a 2009 national study by the Insurance Research Council they found that one in six drivers across the U.S. may be driving uninsured. That is almost 17% of all drivers!  Now, Massachusetts is a compulsory auto insurance state, but some are still driving with plates that have been cancelled due to insurance that has not been paid and/or renewed. I’m sure that you are not aware that N.H. is a non compulsory auto insurance state. There is a rule for financial responsibility in N.H., but if you are not required to have car insurance or do not have a car loan on the vehicle – that individual may not have the insurance to take care of your injuries when he/she hits you. The tough part of this coverage is you may have great health insurance coverage, but is that enough? Since we are a compulsory auto insurance state, the cost to upgrade your coverage is pretty reasonable.

If you have any questions about this or any other coverage, don’t hesitate to call me or the Shaw Insurance staff   : Mon-Fri 8-4

Mar 21 11

The Insurance Rules for Renting a Car

by Mark Shaw

1) Are you using your Mass. auto insurance coverage?


2) Are you buying the coverage from the rental company?

1) The rental is a substitute for one of your vehicles. Make sure that you rent the car in the exact name as the owner of the vehicle that you are substituting, as this is NOT additional vehicle coverage. Do not expect any coverage on your existing vehicle in Mass. while you are using the rental (Mass. or out of state). The rental is covered in all states including Puerto Rico but NOT out of the U.S.. Whatever your vehicle coverage is on your auto in Mass. it is as if you took your Mass. plates off your car and put them on the rental.Typically a $500 deductible for collision and or comprehensive (fire and theft/vandalism/broken windshield) would apply to the rental’s damage. Mass. has a $0 deductible for glass coverage.

Things to remember:

-If you are at fault in that state that you are vacationing – when your policy pays the claim you will be surcharged for the next 4-6 years.

-If you are hit and run – you will eat the deductible ($500??)

-While that rental is in the auto body – the rental agency will attempt to sue you for the lost rental revenue while it is in the shop, since it cannot be rented to someone else if it is damaged. Your policy will answer this claim but may not pay if the rental agency can’t prove your damaged car was the last one they had.

– If you have a commercial auto policy – do you own or lease the vehicle. Do you have Non-owner Liability covg and/or Hired auto coverage that will roll over to the rental?

– You won’t need baggage loss/theft coverage as you are covered under your condo/apartment or homeowners policy coverage for up to 10% of your belongings away from your home at any one time. Unfortunately a separate deductible for the property stolen/lost will apply.

2) If you buy the coverage – the rental company policy pays the claim. Cost is usually about $15-20 per day. In this case you would never get the surcharge on your Mass. auto policy.

REMEMBER – Most credit cards may cover the cost of the damaged rental vehicle but usually never covers the injuries of who you hit or the other vehicle that you hit.


American Express has a new product which they will try to entice you with. It’s called “Premium Car Rental Protection” and costs $24.95 each time you rent a car. It covers the value of the car you are renting so you don’t need to use your Mass. insurance coverage. It also covers the loss of use issue mentioned above. B U T , it does not cover any liability issues, like the car you hit or the person who is injured and wants to sue you. This coverage also allows multiple authorized drivers to use the car. If interested just the flight life insurance, you need to sign up in advance and when you use that car it will automatically be in place for each rental. As long as you are aware of the liability for who you hit and damage you may do won’t be covered by this product –  it may be of some value to you as it does cover whatever car you rent and the drivers you authorize to use that rental ( for the value of that car).


Feb 18 11

Homeowner Claims

by Mark Shaw

This is probably not a blog entry that everyone will enjoy, but it is important.

Insurance companies reward customers with good credit, no claims, well-maintained homes and solid account relationships. The reward? Better insurance premiums that cover catastrophic unforeseen events. If you have not had a home claim in several years, you are probably getting a $250 to $300 per year credit on your homeowners premium.

The truth is that when you have to put in a home claim it should be significant enough to be much more that your deductible . Because at your next homeowner policy’s renewal date you will probably lose that discount for about three years. It may not seem fair, but this is normal business practice in today’s insurance world. The contract that you have with your insurance carrier demands that you appropriately maintain your home in good condition and in a timely and consistent manner. If you do this, the companies know that  the likelihood of you having frequent claims will be minimized. Obviously, if you maintain your home well, you will enjoy the benefits of a really nice home that has no, or very few, problems.  Which is nice. And, even nicer will be the fact that you are paying lower premiums than your neighbors. Because you’ve earned it.

Shaw Insurance: you’ve tried the rest, now try the best.

Feb 18 11

Refinancing Your Home?

by Mark Shaw

Have you ever thought to call your agent to tell him or her that you are refinancing your home?

If you are refinancing to get a lower rate, that’s one thing. But, if you are refinancing  because you are planning make a large, or substantial, investment in your home,  like renovations, an addition, or a swimming pool, these change may require some important insurance coverage changes that are not necessarily already provided in your homeowner’s policy. Even if you recently received an inheritance and are using those funds to finance the changes your self, there are often still insurance considerations to take into account. You will be increasing your home’s replacement value with the improvements. You could be introducing structural changes to your home which could require a “builders risk” endorsement that needs to added during construction.

If you think you might have one of these situations, please call us for a free review of your options and the protections available to you.

Shaw Insurance: you’ve tried the rest, now try the best.

Feb 18 11

Saving Money on Your Car Insurance

by Mark Shaw

If you have inexperienced drivers: make sure they take driver’s ed and that occasionally they are NOT the principal drivers. They key in this savings tip is to have more drivers than cars.

Look into group discounts: AAA, college alumnae, BJ’s, COSCO, church groups, Massachusetts Bar Association… this should give you some ideas. Not every insurance carrier offers group discounts, but many do. Each insurance company is different, so do your research.

Combine insurance types with same carrier: See if you can have your auto and home insurance with the same company, for example. If the answer is “yes,” then a 10 auto insurance percent discount is usually in offing.

Low mileage credits: If you drive your vehicle less than 5,000 miles annually you can save up to 10 percent more. If you drive less than 7,500 miles annually you can save five percent more. If you are insured with Tavelers and do less than 10,000 miles annually you can still qualify for a low mileage credit.

Student discounts: Children who are good students also qualify for auto insurance discounts with many carriers. Students who are away at college or prep school who don’t or can’t drive cars at their school may qualify for additional auto credits. [NOTE: make sure they don’t drive other students’ cars or friends’ cars if they have been excluded from your policy.]

Leasing Address: If you are a business and you are leasing a vehicle, look into the reduction for having the car based at your home town instead of having it based at your business location. If you do that, remember that your excise tax will come from wherever your leased vehicle is based.

Business write-offs: If you use your car in your business and want to write it off for IRS purposes, tell your agent to use class 30, which indicates a business-use class so if you ever carry customers (accountant, attorney, realtor, etc.) you would always be covered and also justify the deduction.

Shaw Insurance: you’ve tried the rest, now try the best.

Jan 15 11

Maintain a Home and Lower Your Premiums

by Mark Shaw

Here are some suggestions on how to maintain your home to lower your premiums:

  1. Shovel your sidewalks, entries and egressways. Also clear your roof of snow if possible.
  2. Shut off all outside faucets and sprinkler systems in the Fall.
  3. Have an annual check up on heating and furnace systems.
  4. Annual check all interior sinks, tubs, showers and toilets.
  5. Update all electrical wiring to at least circuit breakers.
  6. Repair or replace roof when necessary (every 20 to 30 years).
  7. Trim back all tree limbs overhanging roofs and sheds.
  8. Remove damaged or diseased trees and limbs prior to storms.
  9. Flush out water heaters in drainage hose annual which will extend its life and its heating element efficiency.
  10. Clean out gutters to prevent water seeping into basement or ice dam damage to ceilings and walls.
  11. Repair sidewalks, stairs, and secure or add railings.
  12. Every few years clean fireplace and furnace flues.
  13. Avoid space heaters.
  14. Remove clutter near furnace, electric heaters and baseboards.
  15. Don’t overload electrical circuits.
  16. No storage of combustibles or fuels in basement or garage.
  17. Consider safe deposit box usage for valuables.
  18. No smoking in bed.
  19. Central station alarms (burglar, fire, low temperature).
  20. Prior to purchasing your next dog, check with you agent to see if that breed may be on an insurance forbidden list.
  21. Swimming pools are okay, but diving boards and slides are problems.
  22. Don’t buy a trampoline. Insurance companies will probably cancel you if you do or if they find out about it. Trampolenes are severe injury concerns.
  23. Check operation of smoke detectors annual (at least).
  24. When you update your roof, plumbing, and fixtures, heating and electrical, call your agent as you may qualify for insurance company renovation credits.
  25. Place your home and auto insurance with the same carrier.
Oct 15 10

Homeowner’s Checklist When Buying Insurance

by Mark Shaw

Ask about available discounts for:

Multipolicy (home, car or other policies with the same company)

  1. Smoke detectors
  2. Fire extinguishers
  3. Sprinkler systems
  4. Burglar and fire alarms that alert an outside service
  5. Deadbolt locks and fire-safe window grates
  6. 55 years old and retired
  7. Long-time policyholder
  8. Upgrades to plumbing, heating and electrical systems
  9. Earthquake retrofitting to make the home safer
  10. Wind-resistant shutters

Get enough insurance to:

  1. Completely rebuild the house in the event it is destroyed by fire or other insured disaster.
  2. Replace everything in the house.
  3. Protect your liability in case someone is injured on your property and sues you.

Ask about additional coverage such as:

  1. Replacement cost for possessions
  2. Extended or guaranteed replacement cost for the structure
  3. Building code upgrades
  4. Sewer and drain back-ups
  5. Inflation-guard
  6. Umbrella coverage for a pool or other high-risk items
  7. Special riders for jewelry, collectibles and expensive items
Oct 12 10

Commercial Insurance Checklist

by Mark Shaw

Please use this checklist as a guide to review your insurance categories and coverage amounts. Then you may want to discuss your needs with us, to determine if all categories and coverages are appropriate for your needs.

Liability                                                                          Coverage
Premises Liability $__________________
Advertising and Personal Injury Liability $__________________
Tenant Legal Liability $__________________
Products and Completed Operations $__________________
Non-owned and Hired Auto $__________________
Employment Practices Liability $__________________
Liquor Liability $__________________
Professional Liability/Errors & Omissions $__________________
Directors and Officers $__________________
Business Auto $__________________
Umbrella Liability $__________________
Property Coverage
Building $__________________
Business Personal Property $__________________
Computers and Media $__________________
Stock and Inventory $__________________
Transit / Off Premises $__________________
Property of Others $__________________
Valuable Papers $__________________
Plate Glass Window $__________________
Business Income/Extra expense $__________________
Employee Dishonesty $__________________
Accounts Receivable $__________________
Money and Securities on premises/off premises $__________________
Equipment Breakdown $__________________
Flood $__________________
Employee Benefits
Workers Compensation (Required by Law) $__________________
Employee Benefits Liability $__________________
Group Health $__________________
Life Insurance/Group Life $__________________
401k $__________________
Disability/Group Disability $__________________
Key Man Life $__________________