Don’t Lose Your Stuff to Porch Pirates!

Even the most committed Portland Maine “buy local” fans occasionally buy online. The holiday season will soon be in full swing. That means more shopping, and more opportunity to be a crime victim. Porch pirates are a problem even in Maine, especially during gift-giving season. Maine’s long winter nights provide more of the darkness that thieves love.

Don’t let your joy from the “truck of happiness” turn into the frustration of a box stolen from your porch. Here are some ways to protect your valuable purchases.

Sign up for Tracking Alerts

Most online retailers offer shipment notifications via text, email or smart speaker. Many notify you the very minute your package arrives. Expecting a valuable shipment? Arrange for a trusted friend or neighbor to retrieve and hold it in a safe place until you get home.

Choose an Occupied Delivery Address

Thieves are more likely to target empty or dark homes. Have orders shipped to your work, or the home of a friend or relative who’ll be there to get it. Some online sellers have secure locker facilities or pickup locations. Others allow for pickup at the post office or other shipping store.

Install Smart Home Security

There are so many smart home camera, microphone and monitoring solutions now. Doorbell cameras; motion sensing lights and monitors; whole house security systems. The choices seem limitless. Many allow you to control and watch from a mobile phone or computer. Any option you choose is better than no security at all to reduce your theft risk.

If You are a Porch Pirate Victim

  1. Notify the police. They may be aware of theft rings in your area. Even if they can’t recover your stolen goods, they can alert your neighbors and save them from the trouble.
  2. Notify the seller or credit card company. Some online retailers or credit card plans may provide a refund or replace your stolen item.
  3. Call your insurance agent. Home, condo and renters insurance usually cover theft. If your loss was greater than your deductible (often $1000), notify your agent.

Answers to Your Maine Home Condo and Renters Insurance Questions

Whether you live in a Munjoy Hill condo, West End apartment or suburban house in Falmouth or Scarborough, we have answers to your Maine property insurance questions. If you live in Greater Portland, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541.

Not ready to talk to an agent yet? Get 5 free Maine home insurance quotes online at our website. We’re independent and committed to you.

Should You Buy Car Insurance at the Dealer?

Some new car dealers offer insurance quotes as part of the car-buying process. It seems very convenient: one-stop shopping. Sign an extra document, make another down payment, and drive away with insurance!

Is it smart to buy insurance at the same time you’re buying a new car? You’re already making financial decisions: which vehicle to buy; whether or how to finance it; whether to purchase extended warranties and other options. Why not just add insurance at the same time?

When You Should Buy Insurance at the Car Dealer

You have no insurance now, and you’re driving the new one off the lot. You can’t drive off the lot without insurance. It takes time to buy insurance if you’re starting from scratch. If the dealer connects you with an agent you trust at a price you can afford, and they can insure you immediately, it makes sense.

When Not to Buy Insurance at the Car Dealer

Any other time. Here’s why: no one makes their best decisions in a hurry. And there’s really no rush.

  1. Your current insurance probably automatically covers your new vehicle. Better to get the price from your current insurer and get other prices if you want. You’re in control, and under no pressure.
  2. The car dealer’s agent will quote coverage that meet the dealer’s requirements. They want to protect the car loan. But what about your needs? Ask an agent you trust what coverage they recommend, and why. Ask follow up questions and decide at your convenience.
  3. Who will you call for insurance service or follow up questions? Is the car dealer’s insurer using a distant call center or online platform? Will you ever be able to talk to the same agent twice?

How to Compare Insurance Prices on Your New Vehicle

To find the best insurance value for your new vehicle, you have two choices:

  • Call or check various insurance companies online yourself; or
  • Contact an independent insurance agent. They represent many different insurance companies and can compare programs for you.

If you live in the Portland Maine area and recently purchased a vehicle, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of 10 of Maine’s A-rated auto insurance companies. If you’re not ready to talk to an agent, get up to 5 insurance quotes online in 10 minutes on our website.

Does Tax Revaluation Affect Maine Homeowners Insurance?

Several Portland Maine area cities and towns are conducting tax reassessment, including Scarborough and Portland. They call it “revaluation”, which sounds a lot less threatening. But the result is the same: to adjust property taxes.

Property tax revaluation is a zero sum exercise. Some property owners pay less in taxes, while others pay more. Although a municipality’s total property valuation may increase due to revaluation, the tax rate is adjusted to generate the same revenue as before.

Tax assessments are based upon market value. Waterfront property owners and those in highly desirable areas will pay more taxes than an owner of similar property located in a less popular location. That’s because their property is worth more on the real estate market.

If My Home’s Tax Value Increases, Should I Increase my Homeowners Insurance?

Probably not, unless your assessment increase is due to a physical improvement in your property. Home insurance is based upon rebuilding cost, not market value. Market value includes acreage and landscaping. Your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover those things.

Your home’s location in town affects its market (tax assessment) value but not its rebuilding cost. Labor and material usually cost the same across town. So, unless you’ve increased your living space, built a garage or other outbuilding, or upgraded your kitchen or baths, you may not need to adjust your insurance amount.

Your Insurance Agent Can Help

Ask your insurance agent to recalculate the replacement cost of your home every few years. That helps to make sure you’re not buying too much insurance or too little. Don’t be surprised if the rebuilding cost differs significantly from the assessed value of your property. Remember, your insurance goal is to rebuild your home after a disaster, not buy it again.

Is Your Maine Home Insurance Adequate?

If you own property in the Greater Portland Maine area, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. Or, you can get Maine home insurance quotes online in 10 minutes from noyeshallallen.com

Your Noyes Hall & Allen agent can help you determine the proper amount of insurance for your home. And we offer a choice of Maine’s preferred home insurance companies. We can compare quotes and coverage to find the best insurance value for your home. We’re independent and committed to you.

Portland Maine Area Short Term Rental Rules

Many cities and towns struggle to balance short term rental with affordable housing. Advocates for short term rental say it encourages property improvements and neighborhood revitalization. They believe private property owners use should be free from government intervention.


Short term rental opponents say owner occupancy and long term leases foster community. They argue that short term rental erodes that community. They also contend that STR contributes to high housing prices. By removing inventory from the market, STR reduces long term housing supply.


Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth Maine are not immune to short term rental controversy. Both passed STR ordinances in 2018 after contentious debate. These laws restrict the time, place and type of short term rental activity. You can find recaps of Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth STR regulations at the bottom of the page.

Insurance for Short Term Rentals in Maine

Thinking of renting your Maine property on AirBnb, HomeAway, VRBO or another short term rental platform? Check with your insurance agent. You may need special insurance to protect yourself. STR platforms also include insurance for hosts. Most of this insurance is supplemental. It’s not intended to replace your primary insurance policy.

If you need insurance for your short term rental property in the Portland Maine area, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. If you meet Portland or South Portland’s STR laws, we may help you choose the best insurance value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Portland Maine Short Term Rental Law

This information is current as of 12/1/18 (Code of Ordinances Sec 6-150 et seq.)

  • Short-term rental operators must register yearly and pay a fee.
  • Maximum of 400 unhosted units allowed on mainland.
  • Property owners may register up to 5 STR units combined.
  • Up to 5 units within primary residence (bedrooms, separate spaces, etc.)
  • Non-owner-occupied single-family homes and condominium units may not be rented out short term.
  • Only homes or apartments used as a primary residence can be registered as owner-occupied.
  • No more than two short-term rental guests are allowed per bedroom. Two more may use other areas for sleeping.
  • multi-unit buildings have their own rules (below)
Portland Maine multi-unit building STR limits

South Portland Maine Short Term Rental Law

Current as of 1/1/2019 (Ordinance #22-17/18)

  • Unhosted non-owner-occupied short-term rentals prohibited in residential zones (single-family home owners may rent their primary homes up to 14 days per year).
  • Owner-occupied short-term rentals allowed under certain conditions in residential zones.
  • Requires city-issued registration number in STR advertisement
  • Short-term rental operators must register yearly and pay a fee.
  • Short-term rental operators must also be inspected, insured, and licensed by the city and collect Maine sales tax.
  • No more than two short-term rental guests are allowed per bedroom and six total per occupancy.

Cape Elizabeth Maine Short Term Rental Law

Current as of 1/1/2019 (Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 19)

  • Apply to Town Code Enforcement Officer for a STR permit.
  • No permit required for < 14 days per year
  • For non-owner occupied properties,
    • No more than 12 tenants at a time from May 1 to October 31
    • No more than 2 tenants per bedroom.
    • No more than 8 tenants at a time.
    • No more than 2 weeks rental per month
    • 7 day minimum rental period

Maine Sales Tax on Short Term Rentals

The State of Maine requires owners of “casual rental” property to pay 9% sales tax. Properties rented fewer than 15 days per year are exempt. For more information about sales tax on short term rental, see Maine Revenue Services Bulletin 32.

Auto Insurance Combined Single Limit vs. Split Limits

When buying car insurance, choosing proper coverage limits is very important. Uninsured motorist and liability insurance limits are the most important of all.

Understanding Insurance Policy Liability Limits

Auto insurance policies cover bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) liability in an at-fault accident. BI reimburses others for medical treatment, missed work, pain & suffering and related expenses. PD pays to fix or replace autos, structures and other property that you damage.

In Maine, uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) is important coverage. It protects YOU and people in your household or vehicle. What if you’re in a crash where someone else is at fault? They have little or no insurance. UM pays your medical bills, lost wages, pain & suffering and more. In Maine, UM limits match BI liability limits except in very rare cases.

Link to video explaining different types of Maine auto insurance liability limits - split limits vs. combined single limit.
This 4:00 video explains the different types of auto insurance liability limits.

Split Liability Limits

Split limit liability policies are easy to identify. They have separate limits for bodily injury and property damage. They also slice BI coverage into a limit per person and per incident.

If your policy limits are 100/300/100, you have a split limits policy.
In an at-fault crash, your policy will pay $100,000 max per person. It will pay $300,000 max for all injuries you cause. You have the same limits for injuries uninsured people cause to you. A 100/300/100 policy also pays $100,000 max to fix vehicles, buildings and other property you damage.

The Most Common Insurance Shopping Mistake

Many insurance shoppers think 100/300 UM limits give them $300,000 of protection. They actually have about 1/3 of that. Here’s why: most vehicles on the road have 1 person in them. If you crash into another vehicle injuring a single occupant, your policy pays only up to $100,000.

That sounds like a lot. It’s not. A few days in ICU with surgeries, CAT scans and other tests can easily cost more than $100,000. Accident victims often collect pain and suffering settlements, too. What happens if your insurance isn’t enough to pay for the injuries you’re responsible for? Your personal assets are at stake.

Remember that your UM limits are the same as your liability limits. If you’re hit by an uninsured driver an you have 100/300 limits, your medical bills may exceed your insurance.

Auto Property Damage Limits

Don’t forget that third number: 100/300/100 means you have $100,000 max of property damage coverage. That could include:

  • Vehicles (including commercial or public vehicles)
  • Buildings
  • Street signs, telephone poles and other roadside items

With the cost of vehicles, it’s easy to imagine causing more than than $100,000 damage in a multi-car accident. The cost of driving into the front of a building can easily top that.

Combined Single Limit to the Rescue

Combined single liability (CSL) is just what it sounds like. There are no sub-limits for bodily injury per person and per accident and property damage. Just a big, round number. If you buy a $300,000 combined single limit policy, you have a pool of $300,000 to pay for all the damages you cause.
It’s all available for property damage if no one’s injured. It can pay for one seriously injured person.

Even more important, $300,000 of UM coverage pays up to that amount of YOUR medical bills following a crash with an uninsured at-fault party.

Which is Cheaper: Combined Single Limit or Split Limits Auto Liability?

Most discount insurers sell split limit policies. Because they have “gotcha” sub-limits, the insurance company can charge lower premiums. They know that they are unlikely to pay the high “per accident” limit on the policy.

In the real world, most split limits policies have MUCH less coverage than a combined single limit policy. Very rarely, you see generous split limits like 500/500/250. A policy like that would be even better than a $300,000 CSL policy. Most split limits policies have MUCH lower limits. Unsuspecting buyers, lulled into complacency by the “per accident” limit, think they’re fine.

A Good Insurance Agent Can Help

If you’re shopping for Maine car insurance and confused by all the options, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies. We can compare price and coverage to find the best value. Best of all, we provide personalized professional advice, at no extra charge! Call us at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

How to Reduce Car Insurance Costs for Maine Teen Drivers

Car insurance is expensive for teenagers in Maine and everywhere else. Parents worry about their kids’ driving. So do insurance companies. For good reason.

Statistics show that new drivers are the most likely to have an accident. Experience matters. Newly licensed teenagers often need more driving time to learn to anticipate and avoid hazards. Even after they gain experience, teens judge risk differently than adults.

Will my teenager be a good driver?

Some drivers are better than others. It’s hard to predict. Even responsible teens and honor roll students can be terrible drivers. We all know that being tentative on the road can be almost as dangerous as aggressive driving.

We know these factors increase the likelihood of crashes for all drivers:

  • distracted or tired driving; 
  • alcohol or drug use; 
  • late night driving; 
  • traveling in unfamiliar areas; 
  • quick stops and starts. 

How much will it cost to insure my teen driver?

Modern auto insurance pricing is sophisticated and secretive. You and your neighbor may be the same age. You may drive identical vehicles. Have similar commutes and accident records. You could still pay very different prices for car insurance. How much insurance you buy obviously affects the price you pay.

So do;

  • credit scores;
  • how long you’ve been a customer of that insurance company;
  • how long you’ve lived in your home;
  • whether you bundle your home and auto insurance.

Rate complexity makes it almost impossible to predict exactly how much your new driver will add to your insurance costs. Years ago, agents could easily do “what if” quotes. No longer. Today, they need detailed information about each driver and vehicle. Your agent may be able to estimate the cost close to the time you’re adding a new driver.

How can I tell if my teenager is driving safely?

A generation ago, parents relied on neighbors and friends to report if their teen drove recklessly around town. Now, mobile apps can track where, when and how your teen drives.

Your teen probably won’t be pleased to know that you monitor them. But driving data can also bring peace of mind to teens and parents. Because they track location, mobile apps can request roadside assistance or direct tow trucks or first responders.

Many telematics apps feature a scorecard so teens can compare their driving to their peers and improve. Some parents use these scorecards to coach their teens.

Can I assign drivers to certain vehicles on my car insurance?

Some insurance companies consider your teen to be a principal operator if you have a vehicle for every driver. If you have more drivers than cars, many insurers allow you to name one driver as an occasional operator. Principal drivers cost more than occasional ones. Makes sense. 

Some insurance companies let you assign drivers to vehicles. Others use a “blended rate” method. In a blended rate scenario, you can’t assign your 2018 Mercedes to you and your 2000 Honda to your child.

Whether your insurance company uses blended rates or not, more vehicles mean higher premiums.

Recently, a top Maine insurer introduced a new way for parents to save money on teenage car insurance. They let you designate vehicles that your child never drives. You pay a lower rate to insure those vehicles. But, if your child does drive one, you’ll pay a big deductible in case of a crash.

How can I reduce the cost of insuring my teenage driver?

Check with your agent. Each insurance company files their own rates with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. Some insurers charge more than others for young drivers. Some use blended rates, others assign vehicles. 

Discounts vary by insurer, too. Maine auto insurance companies commonly offer discounts for:

  • Honor roll or dean’s list students
  • Driver training classes
  • Students living away at school without a vehicle.
  • Monitoring via mobile app
  • Specialized online driving courses for teen drivers

Get Auto Insurance Quotes for Your Teenage Driver in Maine

Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland offers a choice of many insurance companies. Get several quotes with one phone call to 207-799-5541. Or request a Maine auto insurance quote online. We can help you find the best value and fit for your family. We’re independent and committed to you.

Commercial Leases in Maine – Protecting Your Business

Are you looking for a commercial lease for your Maine business? Moving your business from home or a co-working space to your first real office? Expanding your retail footprint from Portland to Westbrook or Scarborough? Just looking for new space? Either way, negotiating and signing a lease is a big move. It’s also a big commitment. And a legal contract.

A new location is an exciting opportunity for your Maine business. It’s tempting to lock in a great location by quickly signing a lease. Be a smart business person. Review it with your attorney, accountant and insurance agent first. It can save you trouble during the term of your business lease.

Why a Written Lease is Important

It’s good to have a written lease. It’s a legal contract that you can refer to whenever you have questions about your space. It’s also in black-and-white, which reduces misunderstanding when conflicts arise. And, a written lease is easy to review with your trusted advisors. 

Review Your Lease with Your Advisors – Before You Sign It

If you have an attorney, make sure they review your lease. They know what clauses are standard, and which are unusual in the Southern Maine market. They can help you negotiate with your potential landlord. Likewise, your accountant can determine tax implications of your lease. They can set you up to properly record your lease expenditures. 

Don’t forget to review your lease with your Maine business insurance agent. Your lease requires property and liability business insurance. Your agent can help make sure you meet your lease obligations.  They can also keep your property and other assets protected. Finally, they can help you build an insurance budget for your new location.

Insurance Implications of Your Commercial Lease

Depending on your operations and your lease agreement, you may need to update your business insurance.  Here are a few examples.


BUSINESS PROPERTY INSURANCE AND YOUR LEASE


Insuring building items and improvements. 
Your new space may need a build-out. Who pays for that? Who insures it after it’s done? And who owns it, and when? A well-written lease addresses those issues.

A good Maine business insurance agent can help you determine whether you need to insure improvements. If you do, they can also tell you how much it will cost. Triple net leases require a tenant to assume many expenses of the building, including insurance. Your agent can help you budget for that. 

Insuring Your Contents and Inventory
Your new place may be larger, or be an additional location for your business. If so, increase your insurance to make sure that your assets are properly protected. Don’t forget to insurer new signage, awnings, etc. 

In Case of Emergency
What does your lease say about damage to the property? What if the property is damaged to the point where you can’t operate your business for some time? A well-crafted lease outlines the extent of damage and the time limit that triggers the clause.

It’s one thing for your lease to allow you to move somewhere else in case of damage to the property. It’s another thing to be able to afford to move, and to let your customers know about it. An astute Maine business insurance agent can help you buy insurance to pay for business interruption and extra expenses. 


BUSINESS LIABILITY INSURANCE AND YOUR LEASE


Your lease may require a certain amount of business liability insurance protection. That may be more insurance than you currently have. You might even need business umbrella insurance to satisfy the lease requirements. Your commercial insurance agent can provide figures to build into your pro-forma for the new location. 


Who’s Responsible for What? 
Your lease should outline what areas you are responsible for vs. the landlord. It may address issues such as maintenance and snow removal. Make sure that you know what your lease commits you to. Share that with your business insurance agent. 


Hold Harmless Clause / Mutual Waiver of Subrogation
Many commercial leases have a “hold harmless” clause. This prevents a landlord from suing a tenant or vice versa, except in cases of extreme negligence. These clauses help to maintain good relations between the parties. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, the landlord and tenant simply pay for damage to the property they’re responsible for in the lease. Many leases also have a “mutual waiver of subrogation.” This prevents the landlord and tenants’ insurance companies from collecting from an other at-fault party after they pay a claim. It’s important to share your lease with your insurance agent so they can make sure your insurance is properly set up. 


Additional Insureds and Certificates of Insurance
Many leases require tenants to make the landlord an Additional Insured under their policy. Insurance companies are generally willing to do this when required in a lease. Some insurance companies charge extra for Additional Insureds. Check with your business insurance agent to build your budget.

Does your new location have an exterior sign or outdoor seating area? The city or town may require a certificate of liability insurance showing them as an Additional Insured. Hanging signs and outdoor seating are popular in areas like the Old Port and downtown Westbrook, Biddeford and Saco. The city wants to make sure that if your sign injures someone, your insurance will pay. Overhead signs are also common in suburban strip retail areas, such as Scarborough, South Portland and Falmouth. 

Are you looking for a commercial lease for your southern Maine business?
Call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s best business insurance companies. We can help make sure your insurance meets your lease requirements. We can also help you build your insurance budget for this location. We’re independent and committed to you.

Windstorm Insurance Deductibles in Maine

Today’s forecast calls for winds up to 60 mph. Forecasters tell us to expect power outages and downed trees and limbs. It’s a day many homeowners and business owners will discover that their insurance policy has a wind deductible.

Windstorm insurance deductibles have been common in the Southern US for years. In Maine, they’re more commonly found on insurance policies for coastal or island properties.

Not every insurance policy in Maine has a separate wind deductible. If your policy doesn’t list one, then your regular property deductible applies to wind damage.

“Percentage Deductibles” vs. Flat Deductibles

Most homeowners and business property policies have a flat deductible that applies to all causes of loss. These are fixed dollar deductibles, for example $1,000. Whether you have a break-in, fire or water damage, your property insurance deductible is $1,000.

Most wind deductibles are “percentage deductibles”. The deductible is a percentage of the insurance amount, NOT the actual loss. For example, if your home is insured for $500,000 and has a 1% windstorm deductible, a $5,000 deductible applies to wind damage, and your flat deductible applies to other causes of loss.

Common Types of Windstorm Damage in Maine

  • Wind blows a tree onto property, damaging it.
  • Wind damages roof shingles or siding.
  • Wind-driven rain lifts shingles and siding, allowing water into the building.

Three Types of Windstorm Insurance Deductibles in Maine

  • Hurricane deductibles
  • “Named Storm” deductibles
  • Wind deductibles

Hurricane Insurance Deductible

A hurricane deductible only applies if your wind damage was caused by an actual hurricane. If your property is damaged by wind during any other kind of storm, the deductible doesn’t apply. Insurance policies define when a hurricane deductible applies. Usually it’s during the time and place that a hurricane watch or warning is in effect.

“Named Storm” Insurance Deductible

“Named storms” include tropical storms and depressions, as well as hurricanes. These occur more frequently, so “named storm” insurance deductibles are more likely to be applied. A homeowner would rather have a hurricane deductible.

Historically, “named storms” were limited to tropical cyclones. But in recent years, the National Weather Service has begun naming winter storms. Does wind damage that occurs in one of these named winter storms cause the “named storm deductible” to apply? That’s unclear. In our South Portland Maine insurance agency, we haven’t heard of an insurance company invoking that. But, it could happen.

Wind Damage Insurance Deductible

Wind deductibles apply to all kinds of wind damage, including those caused by hurricanes, named storms, or other wind. Even moderate winds can cause damage to property. A homeowner or business owner would prefer a hurricane deductible or a named storm deductible to a wind deductible. That’s because windy days happen much more frequently than hurricanes.

Which Insurance Companies Use Wind Deductibles?

Some use only hurricane deductibles. Others use Named Storm deductibles. Still more use wind deductibles. And some don’t use wind deductibles at all.

Each insurance company has its own guidelines. Some large national insurers use a wind deductible for any property within 1 or 2 miles of the coast. That’s a lot of homes in Maine. Many use special deductibles for properties within 1000′ of the coast.

The geography of Maine’s coast varies greatly. South of Portland, much of the coast is low-lying beaches open to the Atlantic. This allows ocean windstorms to affect properties farther from the shore. North of Portland, the coast is more rocky and rugged. Many elevated peninsulas create leeward inlets and protected harbors.

Some insurance companies that understand Maine underwrite these coastal areas differently. They may require a special deductible for properties more exposed to wind, and not for others.

Does Your Insurance Policy Have a Windstorm Deductible?

If your policy has a separate windstorm deductible, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred home and business insurance companies. Depending on the location of your home, we may find an insurer willing to insure your property with a flat deductible. This could save you thousands of dollars in case of windstorm damage.

Which is Better? Portland Maine Water District HomeServe or Homeowners Insurance?

The Portland Maine Water District offers HomeServe service agreement products. There are three options: exterior water lines, exterior sewer lines, and interior plumbing.

  • Does a water district plan duplicate coverage you already have under your homeowners?
  • Can you buy water or sewer line coverage from an insurance company?
  • Is it cheaper to buy water line coverage from an insurance company, or the water district?

We’ve created a spreadsheet comparing what’s covered by the water district plans with what insurance products cover. We’ve also outlined the cost and benefits of each. This 11 minute video reviews it in detail:

If you prefer to look at the spreadsheet yourself, here it is:

spreadsheet comparing Portland Maine Water District water sewer line plans with insurance

Some of the key differences between the plans:

  • Not every insurance company offers service line coverage yet. It’s getting more popular all the time.
  • Insurance coverage limits are generally higher than the water district plan.
  • The water district plan is actually a service agreement, not an insurance policy.
  • Insurance has deductibles. The water district service agreements don’t.
  • No waiting period for insurance. 30 day wait for service agreements.
  • Insurance allows you to choose your own contractor. The water district plan requires you to use theirs.
  • Pre-paid water district service agreements cover the cost to clear blocked pipes. Insurance does not cover maintenance issues like this.
  • Insurance covers costs to live elsewhere during repairs after a plumbing or sewer disaster. The water district plans do not.
  • Insurance costs 66% to 90% less than water district plans.


Choose a Water District Plan If:
– you prefer to pay more for the security of no surprises.
– you don’t want to pick your own contractor.

Choose Insurance If:
– you can handle a $500 or $1,000 deductible for a much lower cost.
– you want to use insurance for “the big stuff” like crushed lines, not smaller plumbing issues.

If you have questions about Greater Portland Maine property insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s best insurance companies. We can help find the best fit and value for you. We’re independent and committed to you.

How Much Will My Car Insurance Go Up After an Accident?

Most insurance companies in Maine surcharge insurance rates after you’ve had an at-fault accident. That’s because people who’ve had one accident are statistically more likely to have another. So should you pay for auto damage after a small crash yourself, instead of making an insurance claim? Here are some things to consider before you decide.

Is My Auto Accident Considered “At-fault”?

In Maine, unless another party is 100% at fault you may share some fault in the crash. Some examples of 100% at fault could be:

  • running a red light or stop sign;
  • hitting you while your car was legally parked
  • changing into your lane and sideswiping you.

“At fault” doesn’t have to mean 100% at fault. Even if the other party is mostly at fault for the crash, you are still partially responsible. If your insurance company pays to fix your vehicle, and isn’t reimbursed by another insurer, they may charge you for an “at fault accident”.

Is My Accident Damage Below the Insurance Company’s Threshold?

Some insurers don’t charge for minor at-fault accidents with no injuries. Common thresholds are $1,000 and $1,500 of total damage to all vehicles. If your damage is below that amount, they’ll simply pay your claim and not surcharge your future rates.

Do I Have Accident Forgiveness?

Several insurers allow you to avoid a surcharge for your first accident. Most charge extra for that option. Every insurer uses different rules and calls this coverage something different. It’s commonly known as “accident forgiveness”. Some insurers only forgive the accident if you have no violations in the last several years. Interested in accident forgiveness? Ask your agent to compare their offerings. There are no standard terms.

How Much Will My Insurance Increase After an Accident?

If your accident is:

  • “at fault”
  • above the company’s threshold
  • and not subject to accident forgiveness

 your rates will increase at your next auto policy renewal.

How much? That depends on:

  • How much you’re already paying. Surcharges are usually a percentage of premium. So, they more you’re paying, the higher your surcharge would be.
  • How many other accidents you’ve had. Most insurers charge a higher percentage for each accident within the 5 year experience period. If this is your second, it will cost more than the first did.
  • How long the insurance company surcharges for accidents. Many surcharge for 3 or 5 years. Some charge more the first year and decrease the surcharge each year until it’s gone.

Based upon what we see, following an accident, your insurance rates can increase anywhere from 7% to 20%.

Decreased Transparency in Insurance Rates

Insurance companies used to provide rate manuals to their agents. The manuals showed accident surcharge factors and told us how they were applied. Most insurers no longer provide this information. To agents, or even to their underwriters. Rating has also become much more complex.

Insurance companies now calculate custom rates for each person, instead of grouping similar people. Your agent can no longer predict the exact effect an accident will have on your future insurance costs. Even the insurance company underwriters are in the dark. They can’t answer questions any better than agents can. It’s far from ideal.

We’re Here to Help

At Noyes Hall & Allen, we recommend that our clients buy accident forgiveness if they want maximum stability. This helps keep insurance costs predictable. Most good drivers appreciate that. For answers to your Maine auto insurance questions, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of several insurance companies, so we can help you find the best fit. We’re independent and committed to you.