Does Your Car Insurance Cover You If You Rent a Truck?

 

It’s the end of the month, which means a busy time for UHaul, Ryder and other truck rental shops – pizza shops and beer stores too, as people bribe their friends to help them move. Our clients often ask if their Maine auto insurance policy covers them when they rent a truck.

Here’s the answer, based upon Maine’s most common auto insurance forms, the ISO Personal Auto Policy:

As long as you’re renting for personal, not business use, your auto insurance protects you for liability, uninsured motorist and medical payments – NOT physical damage (“comprehensive and collision”). So, we recommend purchasing the Collision Damage Waiver coverage that the truck rental agency sells.

By the way, we’re talking about a big truck here – not a 1/2 or 3/4 ton pickup. If you rent one of those, they’re covered the same way a rental car is.

Does Maine Auto Insurance Cover a Trailer I Rent?

As long as it’s for personal use, your liability coverage applies just as for the renting a car or truck. Physical damage coverage is limited to $1,500. If the value of the trailer you rent is greater than $1500, buy the CDW coverage offered by the rental agency.

Does My Auto Insurance Cover a Truck Rented for Business Purposes?

If your business purchased Hired Auto coverage (part of a businessowners insurance policy or a business auto policy), you may have liability coverage. There are ways to cover the physical damage to a truck you rent for business. Contact your Maine business insurance agency for answers.

See our blog post for information about insuring a rental car on your Maine auto insurance policy. If you have questions about Maine auto insurance or Maine commercial vehicle insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541.

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Homeowners Insurance and the Party Host

It’s summer in Maine, the short, sweet season we all wait for. Our social calendars fill up this time of year. From back yards to beaches, function halls to to city streets,  it seems there’s a festival, party, wedding or other event to celebrate every weekend.

If you host a party, are you liable for injuries to a guest? What if you rent a hall? Does it make a difference if you provide alcohol for your guests, or they bring their own? Are you responsible for your guests after they leave? If you are liable, does your Maine homeowners insurance cover you? Here are some answers.

What is Negligence?

To be legally liable for injury or damage, you have to be found negligent. Negligence is a very complex subject. There are entire books written about the subject. But at its most simple, negligence requires 4 things:

  • A duty of reasonable care – for example to keep your steps in good condition.
  • A breach of that duty –  e.g. leaving your child’s tennis ball on the stairs.
  • Harm – injury to a person or damage to property – e.g. your guest, a Division I scholarship pitcher, falls down the stairs and breaks his pitching arm.
  • Proximate cause – e.g. the ball caused the guest to fall, which caused the injury.
Let’s consider some possible party scenarios, and how your Maine homeowners insurance, condo or renters insurance might respond.

Someone is Injured at Your Home

You hold a high degree of care to people you invite onto your premises. If you host a party for your son’s baseball team, you could be considered liable if:

  • someone twists their ankle in a hole in your yard;
  • someone slips on water in your kitchen;
  • your deck collapses when people are on it;
  • someone is injured when horsing around the deck of your pool.

Homeowners, Condo or Renters Insurance – If you’re negligent, the liability section of your policy would pay damages to people who are injured, along with any legal expenses to defend you.

Someone is Injured Away From Your Home

If you rent a function hall or hotel for a wedding  reception, bat mitzvah or other party, you will probably sign a contract. The contract specifies who is responsible for any damage or injury. The hall may ask you for proof of Maine liability insurance. Usually, your homeowners or renters insurance is sufficient. For an large or involved function, you may need to buy Special Event Insurance. Your local Maine insurance agent can help you evaluate this.

Homeowners, Condo or Renters Insurance – Your local agent can help you evaluate the contract and whether the liability section of your policy would pay damages  or legal expenses to defend you.

Hosting a Party With Alcohol

There is a special area of negligence called “host liquor liability”. In short, if you provide alcohol to guests, the chances of injury or damage increase. You may be held responsible for injuries or damage caused by intoxicated guests, even after they leave your premises. The best way to protect yourself is to hire a professional bartender, and ask them for proof of insurance.

What if your party is not at your home? It doesn’t matter; if you are the host or organizer of the party, you can be found responsible.

What if your party is BYOB? You’re still not off the hook. If you allow people to consume too much alcohol on your premises, or allow them to leave while drunk, you might be found responsible for the consequences. Needless to say, if you allow minors to consume alcohol, you can be subject to criminal law and penalties, not just negligence law.

Homeowners, Condo or Renters Insurance – Most policies provide liability coverage for host liquor liability at your home or another location, as long as you’re not charging for alcohol.  No insurance policy covers criminal penalties or defense against criminal allegations.

If you are a Maine resident, and have questions about insurance, we’re happy to answer them. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

Protect Your Maine Retail Store From Theft

Organized Retail Crime is widespread and on the rise, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation. A record 96% of the 125 retail survey respondents reported being the victim of organized retail crime in the past year, and almost 88% said that Organized Retail Crime had increased in the past 3 years. The survey respondents cited special concerns in cargo theft, fraudulent returns or gift cards, and collusion.

Organized Retail Theft in Maine

Maine retail business insurance clients have not been immune. From the Maine Mall to Main Street, Portland to Maine’s most rural outpost, clothing shop to convenience store, business insurance claims for theft are filed every day.

Organized theft is a special problem says Curtis Picard, Executive Director of Maine Merchants Association. “These are not people stealing to feed their families; these are not crimes of convenience. These are groups or gangs purposely stealing specific items with the intent to resell them and they do hit Maine.”

Organized retail theives don’t target a specific store. They target specific items. They want higher value items that are widely used and easy to steal in quantity. Popular targets are baby formula, over the counter medications and believe it or not, Tide Laundry Detergent.

“The internet has made it so much easier to resell these items. Search Prilosec or Crest White Strips on a site like eBay; you will see numerous listings for these items featuring ‘new in box’ or ‘original packaging’. Chances are these items were stolen”, Picard says.

Employees of a well-known store in Kittery can sometimes spot vans unloading several individuals who spread out to hit multiple stores at once, Picard says. It doesn’t matter where your store is – only what you sell. If your store has the items they are looking for, you may be a target.

Retail Fraud in Maine

Theft of items is only one problem, according to Picard. “UPC Code swapping, fake receipts and gift card theft are other forms of Organized Retail Crime. Thankfully, Maine retailers and law enforcement maintain a good relationship and get together at various times during the year to share information about groups. That cooperation has lead to more arrests and better prevention.”

Maine Merchants’ web site has .pdf copies of Maine Police Intel Bulletin for Retail, that provide some examples, including:

  • Pharmacy thefts in Southern and Central Maine
  • Convenience store and credit union robberies in Portland
  • Burglary in Fort Kent
  • Electric motors stolen in Oxford County
  • Burglaries in Freeport, New Gloucester and other areas.

Unfortunately, the funding for that crime bulletin has dried up, according to Picard. Yet the risk to Maine retailers remains.

Protect Your Retail Business Against Crime

Educate Yourself and Your Employees – Thieves are constantly adapting and trying new techniques. Joining  an organization like Maine Merchants can help you keep on top of trends through newsletters, meetings and other communications.

Get Involved in Your Neighborhood – Membership in a neighborhood business association like Portland’s Downtown District, South Portland Buy Local or the South Portland Waterfront Market Association  opens a channel for you to communicate and collaborate with other businesses in the area. It’s a great way to stay on top of changes in your neighborhood, from street construction to crime trends.

Protect Your Business – Invest in an alarm system. Install video cameras in areas where cash or high-value inventory is kept. Improve the lighting around your premises. Move target items to visible areas where you can keep an eye on them. Better yet, lock them up. Establish a policy to assure that employees are visible and vigilant in your store.

Buy the Right Insurance – Fortunately for most Maine business, property insurance is widely available to cover the peril of theft. Most smaller Maine retailers  purchase a Businessowners policy, which provides a bundle of commonly-needed coverage to protect them against theft and other property and liability perils. Larger retailers usually purchase a Commercial Package Policy. These can provide  similar coverage, but are more customized to the individual business.

If you are a Maine business owner or manager and have questions about business insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We represent many different commercial insurance companies and can help you find the right fit for your business. We’re also a founding member of the Katahdin Alliance, a group of independent Maine insurance agents with offices from York to Augusta, Kennebunk to Carrabassett Valley. So, if your business extends beyond Greater Portland, we can support you.

When Should You Change Insurance Companies?

 

We’ve all thought it:

“My homeowners insurance bill went up again!”

“I’m paying too much for car insurance!”

“I need to cut my business insurance costs!”

“My insurance company wants me to repair my house, and I don’t have the money!”

Is it time to shop your insurance? No one really enjoys doing it, but sometimes it’s necessary. When is it smart to change insurance companies? How much savings is enough to make a switch?

Everyone’s price “pain threshold” is different. We have clients who didn’t want us place them with another insurer in spite of $300 savings per year and similar coverage. We have others who want to switch insurance companies to save a fraction of that, with a higher deductible. Neither is right or wrong. It depends on your risk tolerance and price sensitivity.

Is Your Agent Shopping Your Insurance For You?

Does your insurance agent represent more than one company? One reason people choose our Greater Portland Maine Independent Insurance Agency is that we represent several insurance companies. This offers you the ability to shop and change insurance companies without having to start a whole new  relationship. In the current insurance market, we typically check insurance prices for you when your renewal price goes up by more than 7.5%. We communicate the results if we think we have a good alternative to present to you.


Related Post: When a Great Car Insurance Quote Isn’t


Compare the Costs, Savings and Risks

Changing insurance companies is not to be done lightly. You can save money, but there are costs and risks  to consider, too. If the savings outweigh the risks, maybe it’s time to change insurance companies. We can help you evaluate that.

  • Saving Money on Insurance  – This is easy to measure – or is it? Insurance is a competitive business. You can sometimes find savings of $300 per year for similar coverage – or that quote might have less coverage or a higher deductible. An insurance agent can tell you the difference.Make sure that the quote you get is as close to “apples to apples” as possible. Compare the liability coverage, property deductibles, and type of coverage. Consult an insurance agent to help you review the quotes. A good agent will tell you if their program is not the best for you. Pay attention to their answer.
  • Cost of Time – How much is an hour of your free time worth? It can easily take 3 -5 hours to switch insurance. You have to:
    • research insurance companies,
    • choose one (or more)
    • provide information for a quote
    • compare the quotes and coverage
    • apply for a policy
    • cancel your old insurance
    • set up new billing arrangements.

An independent insurance agency that represents many companies, and can save time. But even if you use an IA you can’t eliminate these steps completely. It still takes time. And time is money.

  • Cost of Lost Benefits –  Many insurance companies reward longevity. Some offer insurance discounts to customers who are claim-free for 3 or more years. Others are more lenient in underwriting or billing for long-term clients with a good payment or claim history. When deciding whether to change insurers, estimate a dollar value on those lost benefits and advantages. Your agent can help evaluate them. If you perceive the value to be less than the price difference, you may want to change. Everyone values them differently.
  • Risk of Missing Coverage – Insurance companies’ coverage can vary  a lot. When you change companies, it’s difficult to impossible – even for an experienced insurance agent – to duplicate the coverage you had before. Trying to match coverage on your own (on a web site or 800 number)? That’s risky. A local insurance agent can help you evaluate and discuss whether there are important differences.
  • Risk of a New Insurance Company – Insurance companies quote your insurance using a “quick qualification” process. They don’t want to spend money on expensive reports for people who don’t intend to buy. After you apply, they inspect your property and order more reports (motor vehicle records, claim histories, etc). At that time, they may charge more than their initial quote if you’ve had accidents or tickets. Some auto insurers even surcharge your policy for accidents that were not your fault.If the company underwriter sees something they don’t like in your reports or inspection, they can reject your application. The insurance company can dump you for any reason in the first 60 days of the policy. If you’ve already cancelled your other policy, you could find yourself looking for insurance in a hurry – and end up worse off than you were before. If you shopped on your own, without an agent to advocate for you, you’ll be on your own to fight the insurance company.

 

If you would like an insurance quote for your Maine business, contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. We’re also happy to review your homeowners, condo or renters insurance. You can get a Maine auto insurance quote from 5 companies at once on our web site, and continue the discussion if you see something that interests you. Or, if you just have questions about insuring your business or personal belongings, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent.