Home Insurance and Swimming Pools: What You Need to Know

Spring is almost here, and as the ground begins to thaw, you may be thinking about having an in-ground pool or above-ground pool built in your backyard. If you are planning on having a pool installed, it can affect your homeowner’s insurance policy. Here at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, serving the greater Portland, ME area, we want you to know how and why pools affect your homeowner’s insurance policy. Here is what you need to know.

When to Notify Your Home Insurance

Many people prefer to talk to their home insurance company before they sign a contract to have a pool built. This allows them to budget for  any increases to their policy, and learn if the company requires any safety features. You aren’t obligated to let your home insurance company know about the pool until it is fully constructed.

Why You Need to Notify Your Home Insurance

There are many reasons why you need to notify your home insurance about your new pool. A new pool increases the value of your property and may create issues that home insurance would need to cover. It can be a safety hazard for visitors and neighbors. As such, your home insurance company may need to adjust your policy.

What Changes Need to Be Made to Your Home Insurance

The insurance company may require certain changes to your policy. Regardless, you may want to increase your liability insurance coverage, or add a personal umbrella policy. This helps to protect you in case someone injures themselves or drowns in your pool.

If you are looking to have a pool installed in the greater Portland, ME area, you may be looking to change your homeowner’s insurance policy too. When you are in the market for a new policy, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent. Call us at 207-799-5541, or compare Maine home insurance quotes online today. We represent several home insurance companies so we can help you find the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.

4 Insurance Secrets Top-Selling Realtors Don’t Share

 

Top real estate agents know secret hacks can make the difference between making a sale and losing one. Present a personal letter from the buyer to the seller with the offer. Quality staging and photography sell houses. An early conversation with sellers can help avoid cold feet later.

Knowing about home insurance can drive sales, too. That’s why the top-earning realtors learn these insurance secrets and use them to sell more homes.

“There’s a Lid for Every Pot”

Almost every home is insurable. There are different types of lenders, right? Same with insurance companies. No single insurer will cover every home. Some prefer to insure luxury homes. Others like mobile homes. Some don’t insure homes on the ocean. Others do. Your client who buys a “fixer-upper” may use the specialty market until their project’s done, but coverage IS available for almost any home you sell.

A Good Buyer Can Insure a Difficult Home

Knob & tube wiring. An old roof. Electrical fuses. An unfinished deck. These are a few of insurance companies’ unfavorite things. You’ve heard about that “blacklist”. Buyers can’t insure homes with these issues. There’s some truth in that. But insurance companies are more flexible than you think.

Insurers underwrite people AND properties. A solid buyer with a credible plan to quickly fix property issues can still find good coverage at a great price. Need 30 days to get the work done? Insurance companies may allow it if an insurance agent they trust represents the client.

Insurance is More than a Binder

A lot happens between contract and closing. It’s easy for realtors and buyers to see “proof of insurance” as something to check off the list. Find a good price. Get your binder. Move on.

Not so fast.

What happens AFTER the closing? Will the price go up? Will the company cancel the policy after inspection? Will there be enough insurance to rebuild after a fire? Does their insurance dovetail with their condo association master policy? Will they have the right coverage to repair storm damage?  Recommend the wrong agent, and your referrals can dry up.

Speed is important. But insurance is more than a binder.

Your Insurance Referral Partner Makes a Difference

Which insurance agent do you refer your buyers to? Do they:

  • Offer a choice from many insurance companies?
  • Respond to you, your buyer and the lenders?
  • Thoroughly review the property and recommend the right coverage?
  • Advocate for your buyer to the insurance companies?
  • Adapt to changes between contract and closing?
  • Promise to be there for your buyer AFTER the closing?

Looking for a referral partner who knows the insurance market? One who works for your buyer as hard as you do, and owns and manages their own local independent business? One where your buyers can get quotes on their own from 5 insurance companies in 10 minutes? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland. Since 1933, we’ve been independent and committed to you.

 

 

Insurance for Your Coastal Maine Home

 

You’ve found your dream home on the coast of Maine. Congratulations! Now you want to protect your investment. And, if you have a mortgage, your lender requires insurance.

photo of a waterfront homeMany U.S. insurers restrict coverage for homes and properties near the ocean. They aren’t concerned about storm surge or water damage. Homeowners policies don’t cover flood or surface water. Wind is the issue. Homeowners, condo and renters insurance policies DO cover wind damage. That’s what insurance companies worry about.

The coast of Maine gets few hurricanes or tropical storms. But we still get nasty windstorms. Not as much as warmer states, but often enough. In the past 6 months, southern Maine has had 3 storms with damaging coastal winds. Properties closest to the coast are more susceptible. The same scenic view that drew you to your neighborhood exposes your home to wind. There’s no barrier to break up winds that come off the ocean. Buildings, trees and hills disperse winds farther inland.

Can You Find Insurance on Maine Oceanfront Property? 

The good news is that insurance is readily available. Your policy may have a special wind deductible, and you may pay more than your inland neighbors. But you also paid more for your property because of its beautiful location. Higher taxes, too. It’s a lifestyle choice.

How Close to the Coast is an Insurance Problem?

Insurance company underwriting varies. Some insurers will insure any home that’s more than 1000 feet (about 0.2 miles) from the ocean. Others draw the line at 1500 feet. Some apply special wind deductibles for any home within a mile of the coast. Others don’t.

Is this your primary home or a vacation home? Insurers are more eager if they have a chance to write your auto, boat or other insurance.

Is this an island property? Even if your home is more than 1000 feet from the coast, you may have few options available. A knowledgeable local agent can help you find your options.

How To Compare Insurance Quotes for Maine Oceanfront Property

The easiest way to survey the market is to contact an independent insurance agent like Noyes Hall & Allen in South Portland. Unlike State Farm, Allstate, GEICO, Progressive or USAA, we offer a choice of insurance companies. We know Greater Portland and the Casco Bay area. We know which insurance companies will insure coastal properties. We can check the market for the best value combination of price and coverage.

If your home is over 1000 feet from the ocean, get homeowners insurance quotes 24/7 from our website. If it’s closer than that, best to call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

What About Flood Insurance in Maine?

Flood damage isn’t covered by home insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a government program insuring against the peril of flood and surface water. Buy it where you buy your home insurance. Every insurance agent can sells it, and the rates are the same wherever you buy it.

 

How to Keep the Funds in Your Fundraising Event

 

You created a fabulous signature event for your non-profit. The stakes are high. Your budget – maybe your job – depends on its success. But you’ve done your homework. The board is jazzed. Volunteers, donors and the venue are ready. Publicity and social media are on point. RSVPs and reservations are rolling in.

Now all you need is good luck. Here’s how to stack the odds in your favor.

Your Programs Depend on the Event’s Revenue. Protect It

Insure the weather.

Does the forecast keep you up at night for weeks before your event? Believe it or not, you can insure the weather. A special insurance policy can reimburse you for lost revenue caused by stormy weather.

How does weather insurance work? Pick the amount of income you want to protect, and a “trigger”. For example, if it snows more than 6” at the event site, your insurance pays the amount on your policy.  It might cost a few points of revenue, but it’s better than a big loss if the weather makes everyone stay home.

Hire Out the Risky Stuff

Your non-profit is probably not in the business of tending bar, supervising a road race or shucking oysters. Do yourself a favor: hire a professional. One with their own insurance.

Don’t take on a lot of risk for a little savings. If something goes wrong, those savings are soon forgotten. But the injury or damage you caused to others – and to your reputation – could last a long time.

Protect Donations

Do you collect and store auction prizes and other donations before your big event? Don’t let a broken pipe, fire or theft erase the good they were intended to do. Add them to your insurance policy – and remove them after the event.  It doesn’t cost much, and can save a lot.

While we’re at it, make sure you have “money and securities” coverage and “employee dishonesty” coverage. Make sure your organization keeps the funds you worked hard to raise.

Love Your Volunteers

Your organization would be lost without them. You appreciate the heck out of them. Do you treat them that way? Would you leave them out to dry if they got in trouble from working your event? Does your insurance protect them against lawsuits for injury or damage they cause while volunteering? If not, fix that. Now.

What about board members? Committed directors are hard to find. Does your non-profit have Directors & Officers Liability coverage? Those with considerable assets are more likely to serve if they have protection from lawsuit. Don’t you owe that to them?

 

Talk to your insurance agent about your event. Explore the coverage we listed above. See what fits your budget. Better to explain to your board that you investigated insurance and chose not to buy it than that you never thought of it.

Noyes Hall & Allen helps Greater Portland non-profits manage their risk within their budget. That allows them to stay true to their mission and avoid financial catastrophe. If you’d like to talk to a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent, call 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

Should You Buy Special Boat Insurance?

 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Boats?

Homeowners policies cover very few boats for liability, and almost none for theft or damage. You can add liability coverage for an extra charge, but you’ll need a boat policy for more property coverage.

Boat Property Coverage on a Homeowners Policy

Most Maine homeowners, condo and renters insurance policies limit watercraft coverage to $1,500. Windstorm and hail damage is only covered if your boat is indoors. Theft is only covered if it’s at your home. Basically, anything bigger than a canoe needs a separate boat policy.

Boat Liability Coverage on a Homeowners Policy

Only sailboats less than 26 feet and power boats with less than a 25 hp motor are covered on most Maine homeowners policies. Anything larger than that, you need to buy either a boat policy or an endorsement to your homeowners, condo or renters insurance.

Why Don’t Homeowners Policies Cover More Boats?

Insurance companies try to include coverage that most people need. That’s why small outbuildings and garages are usually automatically covered. To keep premiums lower, they don’t include coverage for property that the majority of home owners don’t have. So, boats, firearms, jewelry and silver require special coverage, at an additional charge.

All Boat Insurance is NOT Alike

When buying boat insurance, pay attention to the details. Coverage varies a lot! Some insurers value your boat like a car (book value), while others will replace your 3 year old boat with a brand new model. Some will cover catastrophic motor failure, others will say “bummer”. Some will pay to haul your boat from the bottom after a through hull fitting fails. Others will write a check for the boat and walk away.  Choose the insurance you’re most comfortable with.

infographic of common boat insurance gaps

 

 

Where to Buy Maine Boat Insurance

Contact your local insurance agent and ask them about these coverages. They should have a policy that fits your needs and your budget. If you live in Southern Maine and are looking for a boat insurance agent, call Noyes Hall & Allen in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or leave your contact info here and we’ll reach out. We insure watercraft from aluminum runabouts to antique wooden sailboats. We offer a choice from many insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.


Related Post: How Much Does Maine Boat Insurance Cost? 

How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost in Portland Maine?

 

Maine insurance rates are among the lowest in the country. That’s true for boat insurance too. That’s a good thing, because Maine has some of the best boating in the country, from the islands of Casco Bay to thousands of lakes and ponds. How much does Maine boat insurance cost? About $400 on average for clients of our Portland insurance agency. That cost varies, from $100 to $1400 per year.

Which Boats are Cheapest to Insure in Maine?

Not surprisingly, many factors affect the cost of Maine boat insurance. Most of them depend upon you and the boat you own. Here are the top four factors that influence the cost of boat insurance.

Age and Value of Boat

The more expensive the vessel, the more it costs to insure. Makes sense, right?

Age matters, too. Picture two identical sailboats on adjacent moorings in Portland Harbor. One is 20 years older. The older boat’s insurance is more expensive. Insurance underwriters charge extra for yachts over 11 years old. Vessels older than 20 years may need a condition & valuation survey to get insurance.

 

Your Experience

Have you operated boats for years? You get good insurance rates. Were those boats similar to the one you’re insuring? That’s even better. Have you owned (vs. operated) a similar vessel? Boat insurance underwriters love that. Have a Coast Guard Power Squadron certificate, or a captain’s license? You’ll get a discount. Bad auto driving record? You’ll pay more for boat insurance.

Vessel Type and Equipment

Assuming boats of comparable value, sailboats are the cheaper to insure than power boats. Diesel powered craft are cheaper to insure than gas powered ones. The slower the maximum speed, the lower the insurance cost. Speedboat insurance costs the most. Do you live aboard your boat? Expect to pay quite a bit more than the weekend sailor at the next slip. But at least you don’t have to mow the lawn.

Boat Insurance Discounts

You’ll earn boat insurance discounts for onboard safety equipment. Some examples:

  • Depth finder
  • GPS/Radar/Loran
  • Automatic fire extinguishing system
  • VHF radio
  • Vapor detector

 

Where and When You Use the Boat

Your boat insurance policy may have a navigational limit. It may also have a “layup clause”, which specifies dates during which it can be in the water. If your vessel is outside the territory or in the water when it’s supposed to be laid up, you have no insurance.

A smaller navigation radius and a longer storage period means lower boat insurance costs. “Fresh water only” navigation is cheaper than coastal. For Maine saltwater boaters, Eastport to Cape Ann is a common navigation territory. The most common storage (or “layup”) requirement is November 1 to April 1. Some of our clients who take their boats south for the winter. They need a different navigation territory and layup clause – and pay more premium for them.

Where to Get Boat Insurance in Portland Maine

Do you need insurance on a boat or yacht in the Portland Maine / Casco Bay area? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice from several of Maine’s best boat insurance companies, so we can help you find the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.

GEICO vs. Agent or Broker – Maine Insurance Buying Tips

You have lots of choices when buying Maine car insurance.

You can buy a policy online in a few minutes from GEICO, Progressive and others without ever talking to a human. But do you really know what you bought?

You can talk to a local insurance agent and buy from them. But, won’t they pressure you into buying something more expensive? How do you know which is better?

The GEICO Way – Buying Direct

When you purchase a GEICO, Progressive or similar policy online or on the phone, you’re buying directly from the insurance company. Service is usually via mobile app, website or call center.

PROS

  • Speed – You can usually purchase insurance in one session if you want to. You get instant proof of insurance, and you’re on your way.
  • Self-service convenience – Most direct companies have very good apps and web sites. You can make policy changes, pay bills and view insurance documents online.
  • 24/7 Access – national insurers operate call centers at all hours. You can make a policy change at 2 AM if you want.
  • National footprint – If you’re someone who moves around a lot, this may work well for you.
  • Low Cost, Bare Bones Options – If you’re looking for the absolute minimum coverage required by law, these companies often are the cheapest.

CONS

  • Lack of Choice – Direct companies only sell products from one company. To change companies, you have to start from scratch with a new insurer.
  • No Advocate – Any contact you have is with an employee of the insurance company. They’re naturally going to look out for their employer’s interest, not yours. They aren’t likely to tell you if there’s a better option for you, unless it benefits them as well.
  • Limited Advice – GEICO and other direct insurers have national call centers with thousands of agents. You’re unlikely to talk to the same person twice. Since you only speak with that person once, they don’t know your situation, preferences or challenges. They sure don’t know the difference between Dunstan Corner and Morrill’s Corner.  As a result, it’s harder for them to provide personal advice. You could end up buying much less – or more – insurance than you need.
  • Limited Products – Most national direct companies focus on a few types of insurance, with a limited appetite. If you buy a condo or a snowmobile, or start a business, they may no longer be able to help you. Then, you have to start over with a new insurance company.
  • Pressure to Buy – You might think you can avoid sales pressure by getting an online insurance quote. But, have you ever gotten a quote from a direct insurer and didn’t buy? You get BLASTED by emails for days. Buy! Buy! Buy!

 

INSURANCE AGENTS and BROKERS

You can also buy insurance from a local Maine agent or broker. Some Maine insurance agents represent only one company, like State Farm or Allstate. These are sometimes called “exclusive agents” or “captive agents”. They are a hybrid. They share some limitations and advantages of both direct companies and independent agents.  For example, because they only represent one company, they’re unlikely to advocate for you vs. the insurance company. And, they can’t offer a choice. Plus, they’re often paid on sales commission – so be prepared for lots of follow up calls and emails asking you to buy. But, once you’re a customer, it’s easier to establish a relationship with these local people than with a direct company.

Independent Agents (Trusted Choice Insurance Agents) are local business owners who represent several insurers. Insurance companies that rely on independents to sell their products don’t advertise to the public much. You may not have heard of some. That doesn’t mean that the household names are any better, though.

PROS

  • Choice – Independent agents represent many different companies. They can help you pick the best value and fit for your situation. Bundle when it makes sense, or shop a la carte when it doesn’t. Need to insure something unusual or different than your previous situation? Your independent agent can help. Want to change insurance companies? Your independent agent won’t miss a beat. You’re not starting from scratch.
  • Consistency – Most independent agencies are small local offices. You often work with the same person, year in and year out. Prefer texts to email? Move to camp every summer? Like to stop in to review your insurance in person? Your local agent gets that.
  • Advocacy – Your agent is not employed by the insurance company. They’re free to advise you what’s best for you, even if it’s not best for your insurance company. They can answer questions and advise you without raising any flags at the insurance company.
  • Personal and Local – Your agent lives and works where you do. They know what’s happening in your world. They can respond to local weather and economic events, and recommend local contractors and other businesses. You’ll never have to explain more than once where you live, or at which grocery store you had that parking lot accident.

CONS

  • One location – If you move around the country frequently, a local independent agent’s value diminishes. They are typically licensed to sell insurance in one or two states.
  • Limited Access – Your agent’s office is not open 24/7 like the national call centers. Most insurance companies (direct and independent agency channels) DO have 24 hour claim reporting. Also, many independent agents are now offer 24/7 access to policy documents for after-hours viewing and questions.
  • Slower? – If you’re looking to get insurance in the next 15 minutes, and are less concerned about getting the absolute best fit, a direct insurer like GEICO or Progressive may be best for you. Because an independent agent represents several companies, it can take longer for them to quote your insurance. But, you’ll probably get 5 or more quotes, instead of just one.

Pushy Salespeople?

Insurance agents all get paid to sell insurance. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a GEICO call center agent or a local Allstate agent. But not every agent is paid the same way.

At Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, we pool our commissions and pay our agents a salary, with a small percent of their income tied to our overall results. That way, they’re free to advise you what’s best for you, even if it’s not us. We won’t pressure you to buy. Sure, we have goals, and we like to reach them. But we think if we treat people fairly and to use our insurance knowledge to help people, we’ll win more than we’ll lose in the long run. A short-term sale success is nothing compared to a long-term client.

Does it Cost More to Buy From an Insurance Agent?

No single insurance company always has the lowest price, even though their advertising might make you think so. Buying insurance direct from the company sounds like it might save money, because there’s no agent involved. But the facts aren’t so clear. GEICO spends billions a year on advertising. Independent agency companies pay commission to local agents. Both are paid by the premium you pay to the insurance company.

Don’t Forget Coverage

Insurance coverage forms vary. Some companies don’t cover you if you’re delivering pizza. Others do. Some uninsured motorist coverage can be 50% less than another company, even though the limits look very similar on paper. Which do you think costs less?

Do You Understand Your Insurance?

When you bought insurance, you made a lot of choices on the fly. Your job may have changed. You might have traded vehicles. You may have gotten married, or divorced. Do you know what coverage you have? Do you know if your policy doesn’t cover enough – or too much?

If you live in Southern Maine and have questions about your insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen independent insurance agent at 207-799-5541. We’ll help you understand what you have and decide what you need. It doesn’t cost a cent to get a second opinion from Noyes Hall & Allen. And, if you do choose to do business with us, you’ll be supporting a local business. That keeps some of your premium dollars in Greater Portland, instead of some far-off insurance company home office.

Noyes Hall & Allen is independent and committed to you.

Pet Insurance in Portland Maine – Our Newest Solution

Mainers love their pets. More than 60% of Maine households include at least one dog, cat, bird, rabbit, snake or other non-human family member. That puts us in the top 5 states for pet ownership. In fact, Maine ranks #2 in cat ownership at 46.4% of households, according to one survey.

Pet Ownership is a Responsibility

While the joy they bring is priceless, pets depend on us to do what’s best for them. That’s more than just giving them food, water and exercise. Our pets rely on us to manage their health. Veterinary medical care can be expensive, especially when they get sick or injured. Veterinarian treatment, ER visits and veterinary specialists can be budget-busters for pet owners.

Pet Injuries and Illnesses Can Be Costly

Here are a few of the most common conditions and treatments that pets might face:

  • Asthma, feline: inhaler and medication – $500 (plus visits every 3-6 months)
  • ACL surgery, canine (TPLO) – $3,500 to $5,000
  • Diabetes in cats – 1 day of hospitalization every 3 months to check glucose levels, once stable.
    Medication: about $50 per month.
  • Hip dysplasia, dog: Surgery, $2,000 to $4,000.

Pet insurance can help defray these costs. Yet, less than 2% of U.S. pets are covered by insurance.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Most popular pet insurance plans cover treatment for diseases, illnesses and injuries. That includes:

  • Veterinary or specialist treatment
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgeries
  • Prescriptions
  • CAT scans, MRI, X-Ray
  • Cancer Treatments

Every plan has different limitations. Many insurance companies offer different levels of coverage. The higher the limit of coverage, and the lower the deductible, the higher the cost of the insurance.

What Does Pet Insurance Exclude (Not Cover)?

Most plans exclude regular veterinary checkups (well-care).  All pet medical plans exclude pre-existing conditions. If your cat has been diagnosed with asthma, those treatments would not be covered. But, if she was later diagnosed with feline leukemia, that treatment would be. Also, spaying, neutering, and “maintenance” items like ear-cleaning or gland expressing are usually not covered.

Portland Maine Pet Insurance – Our New Solution

We’re excited to now offer a discount for our clients through FIGO pet insurance, one of the top insurers in the U.S. You can choose any veterinarian or provider – you’re not limited to any network.

As a FIGO customer, you can download a free app and make claims on the go. The app also

  • reminds you about shots and appointments,
  • helps you find nearby services like dog parks, pet daycare and pet-friendly hotels.
  • offers a FIGO digital pet tag, so you and your lost pet can be reunited quickly. And, most FIGO plans cover lost pet advertising and reward.

Our clients receive a discounted FIGO rate by using a special link. Payments are made by convenient monthly withdrawals. For more information and a no-obligation quote, click the link below.

 

Unlike your home, auto, renters or business insurance, Noyes Hall & Allen can’t answer billing or coverage questions. FIGO handles all policy issuing, service and claims. We simply offer this discounted program as a service to our clients. Let us know what you think!