Continuing to Serve You – Remotely

Our office is closed, but we are ready to serve you. We’re working remotely while our area is most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

We are available to serve you by:

At its core, insurance is about
SPREADING RISK and
HELPING OUR COMMUNITY.
Noyes Hall & Allen believes in these causes.

SPREADING RISK

Insurance customers pay a small amount of money to help those who suffer a catastrophe avoid financial disaster.

Health professionals tell us that limiting human contact now can “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 spread. The goal is to save capacity in the health care system for our most sick and vulnerable neighbors. We care about our clients, our co-workers and our community.

HELPING OUR COMMUNITY

Insurance contributes to the community in many ways. It pays for losses of course. It also enables people to buy vehicles and homes; to start businesses and hire people. Insurance promotes safety and risk education. It provides good jobs for thousands of families. It supports local economies and non-profits.

By closing our office and serving you remotely, we hope to reduce the community spread of a very serious virus. We want to practice public health safety and risk management. We live and work here, too. Working remotely also allows our team to be with their families. To provide care and comfort during a stressful time.

INDEPENDENT AND COMMITTED TO YOU

Noyes Hall & Allen has been locally owned since 1933. We’re independent – not beholden to any insurance company. That allows us to be committed to YOU, our clients.

We know that you need us. We’ve prepared for an interruption like this. While we’re closed, you can still accomplish anything that you normally do here. 

We hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and well. We remain independent and committed to you. We’re always happy to answer any questions about your insurance. Together, we will get through this tough time.

Doing Insurance Business Safely and Remotely

Right now, staying apart is staying safe. That includes when you buy insurance, file a claim, and repair vehicles or property.

Insurance is more necessary than ever. People value stability in uncertain times. Insurance delivers. You can do your insurance business in a low-contact, safe manner. You don’t have to sacrifice personal advice and service. Here’s how.

GET NO-TOUCH INSURANCE QUOTES

  • Get insurance quotes online. Most insurance agencies and companies offer online auto and home insurance quotes. Enter information about your vehicles and property and get quotes back. A good independent insurance agency can deliver several quotes at once. That helps you compare.
  • Get advice, not just quotes. It’s hard to know if you’re asking for the proper coverage online, or to compare the quotes you receive. That’s why most people prefer to consult an agent before they actually buy a policy. A tech-savvy insurance agent should be available by text, video or real-time chat as well as phone and email.

BUY INSURANCE REMOTELY

  • Read and sign documents electronically with e-mail, text and e-signature. These tools allow you to read and sign applications from anywhere. All you need is a computer or mobile device.
  • Use contactless payment. Most insurers accept credit cards or electronic checks using your bank account info. No need to leave home and go to the insurance office.

AVOID INSURANCE PEOPLE COMING TO YOUR HOME

Many insurers allow customers to complete a self-inspection. That usually involves answering questions about your home’s systems and emailing pictures.

In case of a claim, avoid an insurance company appraiser’s visit. Email or upload photos of your damage to the insurance adjuster.

CONTACT-FREE INSURANCE SERVICE and PAYMENTS

  • Use mobile apps. Most insurers have them. Download and use them to request changes, check on billing, make payments and file claims.
  • Don’t want to use an app? You can do many of the same things over the phone, email, video or text chat with your agent.

GET VIRTUAL INSURANCE COVERAGE REVIEWS

Modern tools allow you to meet virtually with your Insurance agent. They can even share documents with you by video. You can get personal service and answers to your questions quickly and safely, without leaving home.

DOWNLOAD INSURANCE DOCUMENTS

You don’t have to go into the insurance office to get policy documents. Here are some other ways:

  • Your insurance company’s app. Get documents on your mobile device.
  • Register for an insurance company account. Set one up and download the documents to your computer.
  • Use your agency account. Tech-forward insurance agencies offer online access. These allow you to view your policy information and download insurance documents.
  • Ask your agent to email or text your document to you.

FILE CLAIMS FROM THE SCENE

  1. Report online. Use your insurer’s mobile app to start a claim. Or register for a free account with your insurance company, and file online.
  2. Call the insurance company directly to report your claim.
  3. Call your agent who can explain your coverage, answer questions and help you file a claim.

DON’T SACRIFICE PERSONAL SERVICE

One advantage of having a local agent is that we know you and live where you do. That’s more important than ever in this era of physical separation.

Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance is a forward-thinking agency. We’ve invested in tools and ideas to provide personal advice to you easily and safely. Do you prefer text, video, phone, or a combination of all? Any way, you can get a local agent’s trusted insurance advice without venturing to our office.

Are you looking for a Maine insurance agent who can serve you safely in uncertain times? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Or visit noyeshallallen.com.

Stay safe!

Factoring the Need for Commercial Insurance with Business Operating Costs

As a business owner, you have to think about a lot as you map out your overall strategy. The goal with any business is to try and turn a profit and do so by increasing your profit margin as much as possible. When you are looking at your profit margin, you are comparing how much revenue you bring in when you put it up against your expenses. These expenses will include things such as what you are paying for commercial insurance coverage.

It can be quite tempting as a business owner in Portland, ME to do anything that you can to compete, to try and get an edge over the others in your market. One of the ways to do this is to cut your expenses as much as possible. When you are looking at your overhead, one of the temptations may be to try and cut down on the insurance coverage you have, reducing your premium costs. This can be a very costly mistake though as it can lead to immense risk exposure and dramatic losses down the line.

You need to understand your business can and likely will rely on your commercial insurance coverage at some point throughout its lifespan. When you need your commercial insurance policy, you want to be sure that it will cover everything you want, get you the protection necessary. This can help you get through a bad time, help you recover to get your business back to a profitable state rather than heading into bankruptcy.

You want to pay attention to your commercial insurance policy and also value its coverage. To better understand the benefits of your commercial insurance and review the coverages you have, work with the team at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance today.

Should You Cancel Workers Comp Insurance When You Lay Off Employees?

If a business downturn causes you to lay off employees, you might want to cancel your workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp coverage is required when you hire someone. Without employees, it’s overhead you would like to cut.

But canceling your insurance isn’t always the best move. Here’s why.

Three Reasons Not to Cancel Workers’ Comp Too Quickly

  1. It’s hard to scale up again. Do you expect the downturn to be temporary? You will need to re-apply for workers’ comp when you hire employees again. This costs time, effort and money.
  2. You may lose valuable dividends. MEMIC, Maine’s largest workers’ comp insurer, has paid dividends several years in a row. If you cancel, your business has to wait 3 years to start earning dividends again.
  3. You may lose loss-free discounts. By canceling your policy, you lose the benefit of any loss-free discounts you’ve earned. When you re-start your policy, it takes time to accumulate those discounts again.

Cost-Cutting Alternatives to Canceling Your Workers’ Compensation Policy

  1. Reduce estimated payroll. Workers’ comp premiums are based upon payroll amounts. Layoffs mean lower payrolls, so it’s fine to reduce estimates. This may create a refund without actually canceling your policy.
  2. Change payment plans. Most workers’ comp insurers offer installment plans. Spreading payments may allow you to better match cash flow without losing benefits.

Updating your Maine workers’ comp policy may be smarter than canceling it altogether. Closing your business, or have no plans to hire for more than a year? Then it’s proper to cancel your workers’ comp insurance.

Maine Workers’ Compensation Insurance Questions?

For answers to your Maine workers’ compensation questions, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

Does Insurance Cover Loss of Business from Coronavirus?

UPDATED 4/2/2020

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease), has everyone’s attention. It’s changed behavior around the world, and now it’s here. Business owners feel it. Emergency declarations have forced many to close for the duration.

For those businesses remaining open, routines and procedures are completely disrupted. No more non-essential shopping, eating at restaurants or going to shows. No going out for drinks or coffee. Instead, people are stockpiling supplies, staying home, washing, disinfecting and keeping their distance.

COVID-19 is causing turmoil for businesses large and small. Inventory control and staffing are all messed up. Marketing and sales are on hold as clients and prospects are otherwise occupied.

What if Your Business Suffers due to Coronavirus?

Many businesses feel threatened.

  • What if fear causes my customers to stay home?
  • What if I can’t get inventory or supplies?
  • How can I keep my employees safe?
  • What if my employees get sick and can’t work?
  • What if I have to disinfect or close my workplace?
  • The government has restricted movement in my area.
  • What if economic fear or market changes cause me to lose sales?

Do My Policies Cover Business Interruption?

Unfortunately, business insurance is very unlikely to cover you against lost business due to Coronavirus. Even policies that provide “”business interruption” coverage exclude damage caused by communicable diseases. They also require physical damage to your premises by a covered peril, like fire or water.

If Not, Why Not?

You probably don’t care about the reason behind the exclusion, but there is one. Put simply, diseases are too uncertain for insurers to accurately price insurance to cover them.

Insurance companies have a lot of experience with fires, hurricanes, and other disasters. They know how to price insurance for that, and they know that these perils are local or regional in scope. They can collect enough premium from everyone to pay for the few who suffer a loss.

Viruses are extremely rare – or even unknown – until they’re widespread. And it’s hard to quantify a resulting drop in business. Profits and sales are subject to changing factors: weather, competition, consumer preferences. It’s very hard to put a dollar value on lost sales directly caused by a public health threat.

Should I File a Business Interruption Claim Anyway?

Although the chances of coverage are very small, each business situation is unique . Coronavirus is new for everyone. Insurers are trying to deal with it just like everyone else. Coverage interpretations and response may evolve.

No one wants to file a claim, only to have it denied. But, you may choose to anyway. Here are two reasons why it might be a good idea to file a claim with your insurer.

  1. By contract, insurance companies must investigate each claim to determine if coverage applies. If they find that coverage does not apply, they must show the wording in your insurance policy that precludes it.
  2. The government could create a relief program in the future that might apply to your loss of income. Government could also force insurers to create coverage, in spite of policy wording. Such government actions would probably require you to prove your loss. You might also have to show that your insurance policy provided no coverage for the incident.

Resources for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19

Congress passed the CARES Act in March, 2020 to help people and businesses weather the economic effect of Coronavirus. This Small Business Owners Guide to the CARES Act provides a good recap of the bill. It tells you how to apply for benefits, which are widespread. We encourage our affected clients to apply early if they’re affected.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million. The goal is to help small businesses overcome a temporary loss of revenue.  These are loans, not grants. They must be repaid.

The Maine CDC Coronavirus information page is a good resource for Maine businesses and citizens. It contains factual and timely information about the disease and its effect on our state.

We’re Here to Help our Neighbors

We are a local business. We live and work in Greater Portland. While insurance may not be able to help our clients directly, we still want to be accessible. We want to help where and how we can.

While our office is closed to the public, we’re available by phone, email or our website. Our insurance company partners also continue serving customers while keeping their employees safe.

Stay Safe

Public health scares and economic uncertainty create anxiety. Most business owners feel responsible for the safety of their employees and customers, as well as their loved ones.

We hope that all or our clients, friends and business partners remain safe and calm during these trying times. We’re here to answer your insurance questions.

In this anxious season, check on family and friends. Be kind to each other. Together, we can make it through.

Independent Contractors and Maine Workers Compensation

Hiring an independent contractor a great way to expand your company’s products and services without adding overhead. The right sub can make you look good.

Subcontractor or Employee?

By Maine law, a worker is an employee unless they meet tests to be an independent contractor. That makes them subject to employment tax and workers compensation. If your Maine business hires independents, here’s what you need to do.

Get Documentation from Subcontractors

Workers compensation charges sub costs as payroll unless you have proof of subcontractor status. That can be a very expensive surprise. And the bill is due in lump sum.

Reduce Your Maine Workers Comp Costs

Certificates of insurance and WCB266s are “get out of jail free” cards. Use them to avoid a costly workers compensation insurance audit.

For more Maine Workers Compensation insurance tips, contact Noyes Hall & Allen in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you!

Natural Disaster Prep for Your Businesses

Natural disasters are on the rise, putting business owners at risk of suffering damage or loss of business property. A big disaster can literally put you out of business.

If you own a business in Maine, your customers and employees depend on you to prepare for the worst. Commercial insurance from Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance is one way to protect your business from disaster damage. Here are a few other ways to prep your small business for natural disasters.

Employee Disaster Readiness

  • Develop a plan for your employees, so they will know what to do in the event of a disaster.
  • Make sure that employees know who to contact and how to reach key personnel when needed.
  • Create an evacuation plan that employees can easily follow if they have to escape in a hurry.
  • Update new employees on disaster readiness so everyone is well-informed on what’s expected of them if disaster strikes.

Communicating with Clients after a Disaster

If your customers can’t reach you after a disaster, they may find someone else who can help. Don’t jeopardize your business. Have a plan to continue your operations, and let your customers know where to find you.

  • Have a plan in place to communicate with key clients after a disaster.
  • If your building is severely damaged, you may need to open a temporary location to continue operations. Thinking about possible options before disaster strikes can save valuable time following a disaster.

Protecting Essential Data after a Disaster

Make sure your primary data is backed up digitally to prevent loss in a disaster. This includes financial records, employee and customer information, and any other critical data you need to keep your business running. Cloud backup is the safest, most secure means of protecting essential data from natural disasters.

Commercial Insurance Coverage

Purchase adequate commercial insurance for your building, business equipment, and inventory. Just as important, be sure you have business interruption coverage. Many businesses have enough insurance to replace what they lose, but not enough to recover lost earnings. This can cause your business to fail.

Maine Business Insurance

For information on commercial insurance coverage and costs, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland, ME. We offer a choice of Maine’s top business insurance companies. We can help you find the right fit for your business. We’re independent and committed to you.

What is Homeowners Equipment Breakdown Coverage?

Maine home owners have a lot to worry about. Homeowners insurance can help with some of the big ones. Most homeowners policies cover fire, wind damage, and water damage from plumbing leaks.

Other big expenses aren’t covered by basic homeowners insurance. Off-the-shelf policies exclude flooding, foundation leaks, and breakdown of systems and appliances. But many home insurers now offer a homeowners Equipment Breakdown Endorsement.

What Does the Mechanical Breakdown Endorsement Cover?

Your insurance company’s form may differ. But most cover the cost to repair or replace items hit by mechanical or electrical failure. Think heating systems, solar panels, appliances, electronics, IOT smart devices and more.

Some examples

  • Your expensive dishwasher breaks down when the motor burns out.
  • A central air conditioner compressor fails.
  • The boiler or water heater break.
  • Your smart home monitoring system stops working.
  • The solar panels on your roof stop generating electricity.

What’s the Coverage Limit on Homeowners Equipment Breakdown?

Insurance company forms can differ, but many have a $100,000 limit. That’s enough to cover almost any system in American homes.

Does a Deductible Apply to Equipment Breakdown?

Yes. Usually it’s different than your regular homeowners policy deductible. $500 is a common deductible on homeowners Equipment Breakdown Endorsements.

What’s Not Covered by Equipment Breakdown?

Wear & tear and gradual deterioration are never covered. Everything eventually fails. Don’t expect insurance to pay for items past their useful life.

For example, if your 30-year old air conditioning compressor dies. the insurance company will likely deny your claim.

Other exclusions apply to all homeowners policies. Examples include intentional damage; flood; or seepage through a foundation.

Homeowners Equipment Breakdown Coverage vs. Home Warranty

Many home buyers buy a home warranty when they invest in a home. Home warranties help guard against big expenses in the first few years of ownership. They pay the cost of repairing or replacing major appliances or equipment.

Unlike Equipment Breakdown insurance, home warranties usually pay even for wear & tear. That’s why home warranty coverage is much more expensive than equipment breakdown coverage.

Equipment breakdown often costs less than $50 a year. Home warranties can cost $50 or more per month.

Why to Buy Homeowners Equipment Breakdown Coverage – or Not

You might purchase breakdown coverage on your homeowners if:

  • Your home or most of its equipment is newer.
  • The coverage is inexpensive.
  • It’s included in some bundle of other extra coverage that you want or need.

You might NOT purchase homeowners Equipment Breakdown coverage if:

  • You already purchased a home warranty
  • Your home’s equipment is older and you’re worried about breakdown due to wear & tear.

Do you own a home or condo in the Portland, Maine area? Have questions about equipment breakdown? Worried about big expenses from property damage? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s top property insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.

Is Skunk Spray Covered by Insurance?

A Portland, Maine woman recently had an unwelcome guest. A skunk snuck into her home and sprayed 4 times inside before police could remove it. What a mess! The home and everything in it must be deodorized.

Does Home Insurance Cover Skunk Spray?

Will home insurance cover the cost to remove the smell? It depends on whether you bought “off the shelf” coverage or upgraded. It also depends whether your insurance company uses the latest edition of the coverage form (spoiler alert: in this case, the latest is NOT the best).

Skunk Spray Damage Coverage in Basic Homeowners Policies

The most common home insurance form is the ISO HO 00 03. Many Maine insurance companies use it. It’s tried and tested over decades. Insurance people call it “HO-3”.

Insurance Services Office (ISO) updates the form periodically. Each insurer decides which edition to use. In Maine, some insurers still use the 1991 version. Many use the 2000 edition. A few have adopted the 2011 edition.

Before the 2011 edition, “off the shelf” HO-3 policies covered skunk spray damage to buildings. Damage to contents was not covered by the basic policy.

The 2011 edition excludes “discharge or release of secretions by any animals”. Even building damage is no longer covered for skunk spray in the 2011 form.

Which Homeowners Policy Edition do You Have?

Your insurance policy should list coverage forms. The first two letters are the coverage type – “HO” for homeowners. The next four digits are the form number. Basic homeowners are 00 03. Condo policies are 00 06. Renters policies are 00 04. The final four digits are the month and year of the edition. For example, HO 00 03 05 11 is the 2011 edition of the basic homeowners policy.

Can You Buy Extra Insurance for Skunk Damage?

We recommend “open perils” coverage for contents. That covers skunk spray damage on the pre-2011 forms. Ask your agent if you’re eligible for that.

Unfortunately, we know of no way to add skunk spray coverage to the 2011 edition of the policy. The exclusion in the 2011 form denies coverage for skunk spray to both building or contents. You can’t buy it back. That stinks (sorry, we couldn’t help it).

What if a Skunk Sprayed My Vehicle?

You may have purchased “other than collision” coverage on your auto insurance policy. Some people call this “comprehensive” coverage. Most common auto insurance policies in Maine cover damage by animals. That includes skunk spray. So, if a skunk gets into your car and sprays, you probably have coverage. As long as you purchased “other than collision” coverage.

Action Items:

  • Check your property insurance policy’s coverage form and edition date
  • Ask your agent if you have “open perils” coverage. If not, get a quote to add it if you’re eligible.
  • If you’re on the 2011 homeowners form, ask your agent for a quote with a company that uses one of the older editions.

Do you live in the Portland Maine area? Have questions about home, condo, renters or auto insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. One of them is likely a good fit for you.

How to Insure A Maine Home Owned by a Trust

Many home owners in Maine transfer some of their property to a living or  family trust.  Trusts can be a useful estate planning tool. Once they were used only by the wealthy. Today, people of all financial means place property in trusts.

Trusts are legal documents. Your attorney can explain if a trust is a good solution for you. They can also help you establish a trust.

Insuring Property in a Trust

How can you insure real estate owned by a trust? It depends on the use of the property. Is it your primary home? A vacation home? Does someone who’s not a trustee live in the home? Is the property owned by a family trust, and used by several relatives?

Each insurer has different requirements for trust-owned property. An experienced insurance agent can help you find the right insurance solution. Independent insurance agents offer a choice of several insurance companies.

Some insurance companies use special policy endorsements for trusts. Others simply add trusts as an “additional insured” on the policy.

Are you living in a trust-owned property in Southern Maine? Are you a trustee? If so, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred property insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.