Five Thoughtful Holiday Gift Suggestions – Insurance Agent Approved!

It’s Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. If you’re stumped for gift ideas this year, we have a few suggestions for thoughtful gifts that are approved by your local Maine insurance agent.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector

Not only could they save hundreds of lives each year, carbon monoxide detectors are required in Maine before you can sell or rent any residence. They are a inexpensive, easy to install, and a great way to protect those you love.

Data Backup Solution

All electronic and mechanical devices fail eventually. It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN it will happen to your loved ones. With the popularity of digital photography and music, we risk losing irreplaceable memories and expensive entertainment media.  Why not give a data storage subscription or an external hard drive? A recent study of home computer users indicated that nearly 90% did not regularly back up their data. By giving an easy means to back up their information, you are helping spare someone from heartbreak, expense, and inconvenience. How thoughtful!

Personal Emergency Response System

The “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up” TV ads became the unintentional source of humorous imitation several years ago. But there’s nothing funny about the thought of a loved one being unable to call for help when they need it most. If someone on your gift list lives alone, and has health or mobility challenges, they probably do worry about that scenario. Why not show them that you care about them by giving them a portable call button system?

Tree Pruning Gift Certificate

In our business, we see a lot of damage from fallen tree limbs. Another common question we get is “my neighbor’s tree fell on my property“, which can lead to community discord. Tree maintenance is not for the faint of heart, or the fragile of health. Proper pruning requires special tools and knowledge, good balance, strength and fearlessness. It’s best left to a professional. A gift certificate for a local tree pruning service can help preserve your loved one’s property, health, and neighborly relations.

Bicycle

When you were a kid, didn’t you often wish for a bike? More and more adults are rediscovering the joys of riding a bike. It’s healthy, saves money, is good for the environment, and – most of all – it’s fun! Who wouldn’t feel loved if you gave them a new bike?

The Noyes Hall & Allen team wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.

What is Commercial General Liability Insurance?

If you operate a business in Maine, you may be asked for a certificate of insurance to prove that you have liability coverage. Some people think about liability insurance when they first start their business; others don’t think of it until someone asks for proof.

What Does General Liability Insurance Do?

GL insurance protects your business’ assets against lawsuits for:

  • Bodily Injury caused by your actions, or that happen on your premises.
  • Property Damage  that you cause to the property of others.
  • Personal Injury, such as slander, libel or invasion of privacy.
  • Products and Completed Operations Liability – in case your product or work harms someone or their property.

How Much Business Liability Insurance Do I Need?

Liability insurance protects your assets. So, you should at least carry enough to protect the net worth of your business. You may also be required to carry a certain limit of liability coverage in order to perform work for a certain client. A $1 million per-occurrence limit is common. Higher limits are available, as are commercial umbrella policies, which provide even higher limits.

What General Liability Insurance Does NOT Protect Against

  • Professional Liability, such as improper design, malpractice, errors or omissions. You need separate Maine professional liability insurance to get this coverage.
  • Employment Practices Liability, such as wrongful termination, sexual harassment or employee benefits liability. You should purchase Maine Workers’ Compensation and Employment Practices Liability Insurance if you have these exposures.
  • Auto Liability. You should purchase  Maine Business Auto commercial vehicle insurance if your company owns vehicles. If your company owns no vehicles, you should add Hired and Non-Owned Auto Liability coverage to your GL policy.
  • Pollution Liability. If your business uses pollutants, you should purchase separate insurance for this.

How Much Does General Liability Insurance Cost?

Rates vary, based upon factors including:

  • Type of business;
  • Your revenues or payroll;
  • How long you have been in business, and your qualifications;
  • Loss experience.
  • Whether you combine your business property coverage with your GL coverage.
If you have Maine business liability insurance questions, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent for prompt, professional answers.

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost For a 16-Year Old in Maine?

 

Parents of young teens often dread the day they start driving. They worry about their safety, the responsibility for others in the car or on the road, and the expense. Between insurance, gas, and maybe  buying another car, it’s expensive to have a teen driver.

teen driver by jamesstewartThe cost to insure a teen driver varies greatly, depending upon driving record, vehicle types, use of the vehicle, and coverage level. Rates and rules vary by insurance company, too. Most Maine insurers only require you to add a driver when they get their license, not their learners’ permit.

If everyone’s driving record is clean, your teen has a vehicle at their disposal most or all of the time, and that vehicle has comprehensive and collision coverage, expect to pay $1,500 to $2,000 extra per year to add a teenager to your policy. If they buy their own vehicle and insurance, it can cost more than that.

Strategies to Reduce the Cost of Car Insurance for Your Teen.

  1. Drop collision coverage on the vehicle.  Yearly savings: about $500 – $750.
    If your teen is the primary driver of a vehicle that is paid off, you can choose to self-insure collision damage for that vehicle.
    Downside:  If the vehicle is damaged in an accident, your insurance company will not pay to repair it.
    Surprising Fact: Teens may drive more carefully, knowing that if they’re in an accident, the vehicle may not be repaired or replaced.
  2. Have fewer cars than drivers. Yearly savings: about $1,000 to $1,500.
    If your child does not have a vehicle available for everyday use, they are considered an “occasional operator”. Most insurers charge a lower rate for these drivers.
    Downside: You have to share a vehicle, which can be inconvenient.
    Surprising fact: Many families start with this approach, and move to option #1 as the teen gains driving experience.
  3.  Get the Discounts You Deserve. Yearly savings: $50 to $100.
    Most insurers offer Maine auto insurance discounts for teens who are honor roll students or who complete a driver education program.
    Downside: none. Who doesn’t like saving money, or encouraging your teen to make good grades?
    Surprising Fact: Some insurers offer auto discounts for being a non-smoker, low-mileage driving, or displaying safe driving habits.

If you’re in the market for auto insurance in Greater Portland, get 5 free car insurance quotes online, or call Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. If you live in another area, we recommend calling a local independent agent. Look for an agency that can offer you a choice from Maine’s best auto insurance companies, and provide professional local service.

 

Photo credit: Teen driver by jamesstewart is licensed under CC BY 2.0

How Does Getting a Speeding Ticket Affect Your Insurance Rates?

Police officer with radar gun
Photo credit: NY State Police

Getting a traffic ticket is one of life’s indignities. It’s expensive, embarrassing, and – depending on who’s in the vehicle with you, or who drives by while you’re pulled over – hard to live down. It might ruin your day, but in most cases, if you stay out of further trouble, you won’t have to regret it for too long.

How long do tickets stay on your record? Most insurance companies price insurance using the last 3 years of your driving record. Some companies use a 5 year experience period.

Will my rates go up if I get one ticket?

The good news is that one ticket USUALLY isn’t going to drive your Maine Car Insurance Rates up too much. If it’s a speeding ticket, and you were going less than 20 miles over the speed limit, most insurance companies consider this a “minor violation”. Passing a stopped school bus, driving more than 20 mph over the limit, and other more serious infractions have more serious consequences on your insurance rates.

Have the insurance rules about tickets changed?

Just a few years ago, most insurance companies had 3 underwriting tiers: superior, preferred and standard (high risk drivers went to non-standard insurers). If your driving record was squeaky clean when you bought your car insurance, you got the auto insurance discounts associated with the superior rate; if you had one ticket, you were usually still “preferred”. They usually didn’t bump you from your tier if you later had one minor ticket. But, if you got 2 tickets, they would probably knock you down a tier.

Now, car insurance companies have created 50, 75, even 100 pricing tiers, based on an “insurance score” that factors information about you, your vehicle, your driving record, and more. This scoring algorithm varies by company. They consider it proprietary, and guard it closely. Consequently, agents – and customers – don’t know for sure what caused their rates to be high or low. We suspect that insurance companies do now charge for every accident or violation, although probably not a lot for the first ticket.

Should I Shop My Insurance if I have a ticket?

Every insurance company’s rates are different. If you have just one ticket, and you think you’re paying too much for car insurance, check prices. If you live in the Portland area, auto insurance agents like Noyes Hall & Allen would be happy to provide a quote. We’ve even created a way for you to get your own online Maine auto insurance quote from 5 of our companies.It doesn’t hurt to check around; the worst you’ll find is that the rate you’re paying is a good one.