Forecast: Wicked Cold! Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes happen quickly in frigid weather. All it takes is one small area with insufficient insulation to cause major water damage.

Greater Portland and Maine could experience the coldest air mass we’ve seen in years. If you’ve made recent improvements to your home or business (additions, remodeling, new heat systems, etc.), this will be the harshest test your property has had to endure since then. Here’s how to avoid damage from frozen pipes, and what to do if your pipes freeze.

frozen pipes can cause significant water damage

In Very Cold Weather

  • Open cupboard doors below sinks. This allows warm air to circulate, and helps keep pipes from freezing.
  • Turn on hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving through the pipes prevents freezing.

If You Leave for More than a Day

  • Keep the temperature at a minimum 65 degrees F. People often set their thermostats lower than this and assume they’ll be ok. They find out the hard way that the temperature in the living or working space may be fine, but the temperature inside the walls, where the pipes are, may not.
  • Have someone check your property regularly. If your pipes freeze or water leaks, early discovery saves major damage.
  • Use a “low-temp alarm”. Plenty of inexpensive wireless devices can text or call you if the temp drops inside your property. Even better long-term solution: install a low-temperature alarm into a monitored security system.

 

Think You Have Frozen Pipes?

Don’t wait for them to burst.

Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance. Do NOT attempt to thaw them yourself with any sort of flame!

If your frozen pipes do burst…

Even a 1″ split in a pipe can cause thousands of dollars in damage in minutes. You need to act quickly to prevent additional damage.

  • Turn off the water at the main shutoff valve.
  • Clean up the water. You don’t want more damage than you already have. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the water, but will want to inspect any damaged items.
  • If you have a lot of water, contact a remediation contractor. Your insurance agent can help you locate one.
  • Prevent further damage. Protect or remove any carpets, furniture, inventory or other items that can be damaged from further seepage.


Making an Insurance Claim for Frozen Pipes

Many standard homeowners and business property policies cover water damage resulting from frozen pipes. Not all policies are alike. Contact your agent to be sure what your policy covers.


Filing a claim:

  • Call your insurance company or agent as soon as you notice the damage. Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance clients can find emergency claim phone numbers and other instructions here. If your agent or company requests you to do so, follow up with a written explanation of what happened.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage.
  • Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.
  • Make a list of damaged items. If your home is so severely damaged that you cannot live there, save the receipts from any additional living expenses you incur for accomodations while repairs are being made.

 We hope you and your property remain safe and warm through this cold weather.

 

Preventing Ice Dam Damage

Ice dam damage is a common problem in Maine and other cold weather areas. Learn the warning signs and how to prevent damage here.

ice dam damage is common in Maine and other cold weather areas

Icicles and Ice Dams

You can have icicles on your roof without an ice dam. They affect different parts of your roof. But icicles hanging from eaves and gutters are often a warning sign of an ice dam on the roof. Ice dams and icicles are both caused by the freeze – thaw cycle.

Icicles form when ice or snow melt from your roof and freeze on the edge. They can be very heavy. When they fall, they can damage property or injure people.

Ice dams occur when snow melts and then re-freezes on your roof. If melted water works its way under your roof shingles and refreezes, it expands. Ice can trap (or dam) water on the roof, causing it to pool and back into the building. The resulting roof leak can cause damage inside the building. Untreated, it can cause mold and rot.

Insulation and Ventilation Prevent Ice Dam Damage

Proper insulation and ventilation help prevent the freeze – thaw cycle that creates ice dams. The goal is to keep your roof cold.

Good insulation between the ceiling and roof is key. Pay particular attention to openings like vents and hatches. EfficiencyMaine is a great resource to learn more about insulating – and saving heating and cooling costs. You can even set up an energy assessment.

Ventilation is another key. Allowing cold air to circulate between the insulation and the roof keeps your roof cooler. That reduces the freeze – thaw cycle that causes ice dams.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent Ice Dam Damage

Good maintenance is another way to avoid damage from ice dams.

  • Clear leaves and debris from downspouts and gutters before winter.
  • Allow downspouts and gutters to flow freely. Keep them free of snow and ice.
  • Rake snow from your roof with a special roof rake. Roof rakes allow you to stand on the ground and clear your roof, reducing chance of a fall or other injury.
  • Never chop ice with any sharp tool or hammer. This can damage your roof!

Trouble Signs

Look for these signs that an ice dam may be forming:

  • Icicles.
  • Water damage on inside ceilings or walls.
  • Exterior paint damage.
  • Your roof is clear when your neighbor’s is snow-covered. This can be a sign that your insulation is inadequate.

Ice Dam Damage and Insurance

Your home or business property insurance may cover water damage caused by ice dams. Sometimes, roof shingles are undamaged by ice dams, but water leaks inside. Check with your insurance agent to see if your home, condo, renters or business policy covers ice dam damage.

If you live or have a business in Southern Maine, including Greater Portland, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent at 207-799-5541. Because we offer a choice of many insurance companies, we can compare options to find the right fit for you.

We’re independent and committed to you.

Tips to safely drive in the snow

It’s that time of year again – the cold weather is settling in, and the snow is starting to fall. For many, this means bundling up and staying inside as much as possible. But for some, it means dusting off the snow shovel and hitting the road. If you’re someone who chooses to drive in the snow, be sure to follow these tips to stay safe!

1. Make sure your car is adequately prepared for winter weather. This includes checking the tires, windshield wipers, and headlights to ensure they are all working properly and clear of any snow or ice buildup.

2. Drive slowly and carefully, especially on hills and curves. This will help you maintain better control over your vehicle and give other drivers plenty of time and space to react to your presence on the road.

3. Keep a safe distance from other cars, and use your brakes sparingly. This will not only help you avoid accidents, but it will also help preserve your car’s brake pads if you need to come to a sudden stop.

4. If you get stuck in the snow, don’t panic – there are several steps you can take to get yourself out. First, clear any snow or ice from your wheels using a shovel or other tools if necessary. Next, try gently rocking your car back and forth to work the snow out from underneath your tires. And lastly, if these steps don’t work, consider calling a tow truck to help you get back on the road.

If you have questions about driving in the snow or how to protect yourself with auto insurance, call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance today. We proudly serve the Portland, ME area.

How to Switch Insurance Agents or Insurance Companies

Do you want to switch insurance agents? Maybe your agency has sold or merged. Or your favorite contact isn’t there anymore. Or you’re tired of talking to agents who don’t seem to know who you are. Or you just don’t click with your current agent. Maybe you want to switch insurance companies too. In any case, you’re in the market. Where to start?

You can switch insurance agents or insurance companies. It's easier than you think.

You Can Switch Insurance Agents with the Same Insurance Company

Satisfied with your insurance company, but not your agent? Most insurers can transfer your policy to a new agent. Check the insurance company’s “find an agent” page and reach out to one. If they don’t feel like the right fit, contact another until you’re comfortable. Timing matters here: Many companies only transfer policies at the renewal date.

You Can Switch Insurance Agents and Switch Insurance Companies

If you don’t love your insurance agent OR your insurance company, you’re ready for a fresh start. Here are some ways to find an agent that’s the right fit for you:

  • Ask a trusted friend who they use
  • Check online reviews at Google or another platform.
  • Call or meet them to explain your needs and preferences. Have your insurance policies handy. Can you picture yourself working with them? If you get that “square peg, round hole” feeling, contact another agent on your list.

What Kind of Agent is Best for You?

There are 2 kinds of insurance agents: exclusive (sometimes called “captive”) and independent. What’s the difference?

Exclusive agents work with one insurance company. They may be an employee of the insurer, or they might own a local franchise. The good news is that they will know their company’s policy terms, billing and procedures inside and out. Because they’re local, they also know your area and can provide individual advice.

Independent agents offer a choice of several insurance companies. They can compare the policies, pricing and underwriting of each company to help you find the best fit. Moreover, if one insurance company hikes rates or changes in ways you don’t like, you don’t have to switch insurance agents. An independent agent can help you move to a different company.

Looking to Switch Insurance Agents or Companies in Maine?

If you live in Maine and are looking for an independent agent, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. We can compare and help you find the best fit. We’re independent and committed to you.

Insurance Rates Rise in 2023. Here’s Why

Insurance rates will increase in 2023 for individuals and businesses. Insurance people increasingly expect what they call a “hard market”. Underwriting gets tighter. Insurance rates rise. Appetite for risk shrinks. It’s part of the natural insurance cycle. Here’s why we’re seeing it now.

Insurance Rates Rise in Uncertainty

Insurance companies use history and future expectations to set rates. When they feel confident in their claim predictions, rates are more stable. When confidence is lower, their risk of getting it wrong is higher. That means prudent insurance companies have to charge more “just in case”.

These are uncertain and risky times. Weather and natural disasters are more extreme and difficult to forecast. Moreover, economic signals are mixed. Supply channels are challenged. Even public health is in flux. All that uncertainty prompts insurers to set rates cautiously. They need make sure they’ll be able to pay claims.

Inflation Affects Insurance

We all feel the effects of inflation. Prices are higher for everything from groceries and gas to lumber and plumbers. Insurance companies feel it too. Medical expenses, auto repairs rental, used cars, building materials and costs all increased dramatically during and after COVID.

Some of those costs have settled, but none are where they were before. Meanwhile, insurance companies had to pay 2020 claims with premiums collected using 2019 rates – before anyone knew what was coming.

Insurance Rates Rise After Disasters

Wildfires, tropical storms, temperature extremes, droughts and floods and other disasters are more frequent. Insurance companies have paid billions in property claims. It makes no difference whether they believe these are trends or blips. Insurance companies need to prepare to collect enough premium to pay losses.

The Reinsurance Effect

You buy insurance to protect your family or business from disaster. Insurance companies do the same. They buy reinsurance each year to protect them from going bankrupt due to a catastrophe. Of course, reinsurers set their rates based on losses and projections, too. Now, the property reinsurance rates that insurance companies pay are rising by double-digits. Insurance companies pass that cost on to consumers as part of their rates.

In Maine, we’re fortunate not to have many of these disasters. But we still share in the losses of other regions through reinsurance rates. And, we have harsh weather, too – remember the Ice Storm?

Insurance Rates Vary – Choice is Important

Although insurance costs are higher across the board, each insurer sets their own rates. That’s why it’s important to compare coverage and price to find the best value. As an independent insurance agency in South Portland, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance offers a choice of several preferred insurance companies. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent. We can help you compare and decide which is the best fit for you. We’re independent and committed to you.

Service Line Insurance in Maine

Service line insurance is a new coverage that some homeowners insurers offer. It covers property not included in “off the shelf” policies. What is it, and do you need it? Find out here.

Service Line Insurance – What is It?

Service line insurance pays for certain damage to some underground lines outside the foundation of your home. Most insurance companies define that as

  • Underground public utility water and sewer pipes between the street and your home.
  • Underground private water lines between your well head and your home.
  • Underground private septic lines between your home and your septic tank.
  • Underground electric, gas or telecommunication lines on your property.

What Kind of Damage Does Service Line Insurance Cover?

Many forms cover damage from:

  • Wear & tear
  • Rust, corrosion or deterioration
  • Damage from tree roots (some companies exclude tree root damage).
  • Collapse, except for sinkhole or subsidence.

What’s Not Covered?

These claims are typically excluded:

  • Swimming pools
  • Irrigation systems
  • Unclogging plumbing blockages
  • Some policies exclude damage from tree roots.

Is Service Line Insurance the Same as a Water District Plan?

No. Water district plans are usually service agreements, not insurance. Our website has more information about the difference between service line insurance and water district plans.

Service Line Insurance Covers More than Pipes

Service Line insurance covers replacement or repair of the damaged pipe. In addition, it covers excavation costs. Also, the cost to replace your excavated lawn or pavement. Some policies also cover costs for you to stay elsewhere while your home’s water or sewer system is not working.

How Much Service Line Coverage Can I Afford?

Service line coverage typically has a $10,000 limit. Most Maine service line policies have a $500 deductible. The cost is surprisingly reasonable: often less than $50 per year. Check with your agent to see what’s available to you.

Service Line Insurance Quotes

If you live in Southern Maine, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent for a homeowners insurance quote that includes service line coverage. Call us at 207-799-5541 or get up to 5 insurance quotes online. As an independent insurance agency in South Portland, we offer a choice of Maine’s preferred home insurance companies. We can compare to find you the best insurance value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Maine Insurance Rates September 2022 Home and Auto Update

Maine insurance rates remain among the lowest in the US. But home and auto rates are up as insurers struggle with rising claim costs and rising construction values. Portland Maine area insurance buyers saw increasing prices in the 3rd quarter of 2022.

Maine Auto Insurance Rates – June to September

Between June and September 2022, Portland Maine area auto insurance rates averaged a 3.7% increase at renewal, up from 1.7% last quarter. That’s still below the national average of 4.3%. 

Maine insurance rates for autos increased 3.7% in 3Q 2022.

About 62% of auto insurance buyers experienced an increase in premium. The other 38% saw premiums the same or less than before. Higher repair costs, delays finding replacement parts and increased driving speeds are all factors insurance companies site when they have to increase rates. Customers’ rates might decrease if accidents and violations “age off” or they choose to reduce or remove coverage on vehicles.

Maine Home Insurance Rates – June to September

Portland Maine home insurance renewal rates increased 9.6% from June to September. That’s rising faster than auto premiums, and an increase from last quarter’s 4.1% clip. That’s still less than the national average.

Maine insurance rates for homeowners rose 9.6% in 3Q 2022.

Home owners were more likely than auto insurance customers to see a rate increase: 91% saw a renewal increase. Only 9% saw rates stay the same or decrease. Higher building costs contributed to increased rates. So did longer rebuilding times due to labor shortages. The cost to rent temporary housing is very high now. That drives property insurance rates higher. So does the increasing cost of property reinsurance. That’s affected by disasters and other uncertainties.

Maine Insurance Rates – Find the Best Value

If you live in southern Maine, you can get up to 5 insurance quotes in 10 minutes from our website. Or contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541 for a free no-obligation custom review. We offer a choice of several insurance companies. That means we can help you find the best insurance value.

We’re independent and committed to you.

Maine Insurance Rates – Home and Auto Update

Maine insurance rates are some of the lowest in the US. But home and auto rates are up as insurers struggle with rising claim costs and rising construction values. Fortunately, Maine insurance buyers are seeing smaller rate increases than much of the country.

Maine Auto Insurance Rates

As of June 2022, Maine auto insurance rates are averaging a 1.7% increase at renewal. That’s considerably less than the national average of 4.3%. The Wall Street Journal recently reported increases as high as 20%.

The main factors driving auto insurance increases include:

  • More driving. Miles driven are returning to near pre-pandemic levels
  • More serious crashes. Traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high last year.
  • Higher repair costs. Parts and labor costs have both risen sharply due to staffing issues, shipping problems and supply chain glitches.
  • Higher used car prices. When insurance companies total a vehicle, they have to pay the current used car market price. Used car prices went through the roof recently.
  • Car rental issues. Auto body repair times are much longer. That means longer replacement rentals. Daily car rental costs have spiked, too.
Maine auto insurance rates are up 1.7% at renewal as of June 2022.

Maine Home Insurance Rates

Maine home insurance rates are rising faster than auto premiums, at a 4.1% clip. That’s still less than the 6% national average. And at an average premium of $1005 per year, Maine home insurance is a relative bargain.

Home insurance costs are affected by building values and claim costs.

  • Rebuilding costs. Building materials and labor costs spiked during the pandemic. Insurance companies have increased their “inflation guard” factors to provide increased coverage on renewals.
  • Longer repair times. Contractors are hard to find, too, which increases additional living expenses.
  • Unusual weather. Natural disasters caused $116 Billion in insured claims in 2021. Maine sees far less than the rest of the US. That’s one reason why our rates are lower. But insurers are feeling less certain about predicting future losses.
Maine home insurance rates average a 4.1% increase in June 2022

Individual Home and Auto Insurance Rates Vary

Every insurance company files their rating plan with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. That plan includes individual rating factors such as driving record, insurance claim history, property location and personal insurance scores.

Maine Insurance Rates – Find the Best Value

If you live in southern Maine, you can get up to 5 insurance quotes in 10 minutes from our website. Or contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541 for a free no-obligation custom review. We offer a choice of several insurance companies. That means we can help you find the best insurance value.

We’re independent and committed to you.

Market Value and Building Cost – How Much Insurance do You Need?

Market value and building cost are important factors for property owners. But only one really matters when buying insurance. Knowing which one can help you avoid buying too much – or too little – insurance.

Market value and building cost are both important to property owners. But only one matters for insurance.

Market Value and Building Costs – Both are High

Market values of real estate are at an all-time high. That’s no secret to anyone buying or selling property. Whether you believe we’re in a bubble or not, 2022 is clearly a seller’s market. Due to low supply and high demand, buyers are offering above asking price and making other concessions to get properties.

Building costs are also high in 2022. Although lumber prices are lower after a huge COVID spike, they remain at a historically high level. So do contractors’ labor rates. Prices for petroleum-based building materials are also sky high.

Market Value – What is It?

Simply put, real estate market value is the going price. The one a willing buyer and seller agree upon. Many factors go into market price. Among them:

  • Location (location, location)
  • Inventory of similar properties for sale
  • Features of the buildings
  • Acreage
  • Landscaping and other improvements

Building Cost vs. Reconstruction Cost

Building cost is different from market value. It’s also different from reconstruction cost.

Building cost includes:

  • Building materials (“sticks and bricks”)
  • Design or architectural work
  • Contractor labor and use of equipment

Reconstruction cost per square foot is often higher than building new. Some reasons for that include:

  • Constraints of working around existing landscaping and structures
  • Matching existing materials, design, etc.
  • Reduced economies of scale. Contractors often build several new homes at a time. This distributes the cost of equipment, materials and labor. A reconstruction job at one home doesn’t permit this kind of scale.

Insurance Doesn’t Cover Market Value

Market value includes land, earth moving, landscaping and hardscape. Insurance doesn’t pay for any of those things. Market value also includes outbuildings, fences, pools and other structures. Insurance lists those separately from main buildings.

Insurance Covers Reconstruction Cost

Insurance covers the cost to rebuild. Even after a complete disaster, a contractor may be able to use the excavation or foundation that remains. That’s why in highly desirable areas, insurance values are often less than the price you would pay to buy the property.

Can A Lender Make You Insure the Purchase Price?

Lenders are always concerned about protecting their interest in your property. But your building insurance amount may not match your loan amount. That’s OK.

By law, lenders cannot require insurance in excess of rebuilding costs for 1-4 family dwellings in Maine. If your insurance agent can prove that your policy covers 100% of reconstruction costs, your lender cannot require more insurance.

Your Insurance Agent – Your Advocate

An insurance agent should work with you to estimate the proper rebuilding cost of your property. They should also provide proof of insurance to your lender. Finally, they should advocate on your behalf if the lender pushes for insurance above the fair rebuilding cost.

Do you need to insure property in Southern Maine? Whether it’s in Greater Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough or anywhere in Cumberland, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc or York County, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland or call 207-799-5541.

We offer a choice of many insurance companies so we can help you find the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Home Insurance About to Renew? We Know South Portland and Can Help You Get the Best Value

From Ferry Village to Highland Avenue and Brick Hill to Meeting House Hill, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance has helped South Portland residents and businesses protect their properties since 1933.

Is your home insurance about to renew? Do you know if the price and coverage are competitive? Why not get a 2nd opinion? It’s totally free and no-obligation.

As a Trusted Choice Independent Agency, we offer a choice of Maine’s preferred home insurance companies. That allows us to find solutions that fit your budget and your needs.

We’re a locally owned business. Our team lives, works and plays here. We support South Portland organizations and non-profits. Put our local knowledge to work for you. You can get up to 5 home insurance quotes in 10 minutes here, or by clicking the button below.