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.
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.
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)
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.
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 motoristbodily 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.
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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
“Named Storm” 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.
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:
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.
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
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
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
How Much Will My
Insurance Increase After an Accident?
your accident is:
above the company’s threshold
and not subject to accident forgiveness
your rates will increase at your next auto
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%.
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.
We have invested in a new service for our clients: 24 x 7 access to your insurance documents from the Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance Client Center. Now you can view your secure policy information, download insurance cards and other proof of insurance, and request policy changes anytime. This 6:17 video explains how:
Log in to the Noyes Hall & Allen Client Center from our home page. Simply enter the email address associated with your account. We will email a one-time code. Enter it in the field, and you’re in! Note: some mobile users may have difficulty with certain browsers. We’ve found that Google Chrome works reliably with most devices.
Select View Account to see the information you want.
Select Policy to see your in-force policies and coverage info, or Documents to see or download proof of insurance, correspondence, or other information we have shared with you. Note that you can also request a change to your insurance policies from the Client Center.
We hope you find the Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance Client Center useful to access your information when it’s convenient for you, whether the office is open or not.
Please note that these are very simplified views of your policy info. You may have purchased additional coverage which doesn’t show on the Client Center policy screen. Your actual insurance policy is always the definitive document of your coverage.
If you have any questions about your insurance, call a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you!
No one enjoys making an insurance claim. Something bad happened. You need it fixed. Soon. So much to do! Repair a car or building. Run a business. Get a temporary vehicle. Find a place to live or work. Heal from an injury. Replace damaged or stolen property. Deal with another party after the accident. Stress!
It’s an inconvenience you didn’t need. But, that’s why you bought insurance, right? It’s time for policy to do what it promises: fix you.
Insurance is a Two-Party Contract
Your insurance policy is a written contract between you and your insurance company. No one can change it after a claim. Your contract makes you responsible for certain things. The insurance company too. The policy specifies what’s covered, what’s not, and how losses are paid.
If you purchased your policy from an agent, they can help you through the process. But some things you have to do yourself.
Things only YOU can do in an insurance claim:
Make a statement about what happened to insurance companies
Prove your loss
Choose a contractor or repair shop (some companies have preferred contractors or shops, but cannot force you to use them)
Accept or reject a settlement
Things only your ADJUSTER can do in an insurance claim:
Determine whether your policy covers your loss
Decide who’s at fault in claims involving more than one party
Evaluate and pay claims
Some claims never involve anyone but you and the insurance company. You report it directly to the insurance company. The claim is minor. Settlement is simple. Everything goes smoothly. Other claims are more complex.
You never know which kind of claim you will have. That’s why it’s good to have an agent on your side. Not to mention for the advice they can give you the 99.9% of the time when you’re NOT having a claim.
What Use Is an INSURANCE AGENT after a Claim?
A good insurance agent:
Helps you decide whether to make a claim at all. Is your claim clearly not covered? If it is clearly covered, what’s your policy deductible? Is your insurance cost likely to increase if you make this claim? How much? An agent can answer these initial questions so you can decide whether you want to make a claim at all.
Is your insurance sherpa. There’s a lot to know and remember. Report your claim to your insurance company or someone else’s. Protect your property. Gather information you’ll need later. Find a temporary solution until the adjuster can take over. An experienced agent is your sherpa in foreign territory.
Is your claim cattle dog. Haven’t heard from your adjuster? Waiting for an appraisal? Having trouble preparing the reports the insurance company needs? A good agent can pull things together and herd your claim in the right direction.
Has clout with the insurance company. Agents help their clients to find good insurance companies. So insurers want to be on the agent’s “good list”. A trustworthy and knowledgeable agent earns the respect of the insurance company. They can use that to advocate on your behalf. An agent can’t create coverage where there isn’t, but they can influence the process.
Is an “insurance translator”. A good agent can explain the gobbledy-gook in that letter from your adjuster. They can tell you why the offered settlement may be different than you expected. They can explain to the adjuster, using insurance terms, it if it’s wrong. Your agent can even translate in real time, meeting with you and the adjuster face-to-face, to resolve issues.
Helps insurance companies get better. Want to let your insurance company know how your claim went? Compliment your adjuster? Complain about the company’s preferred service provider? Rave or rage about the service you received? Share advice for how to make it better? A good agent has a pipeline to the insurance company, and knows where to send the feedback to get the most impact.
Need Help With a Claim? Ask Your Agent!
Don’t assume that your agent knows how your claim is going. Insurance companies don’t routinely communicate with agents during a claim. If you need help, ask your agent. At Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, we ask our clients if they need help a week after they file a claim on their policy. Many don’t need help. But for those who do we’re able to jump in and assist where needed. We believe that helps our clients’ claims go smoother than they might otherwise.
Do you own a business or live in the Portland Maine area? Looking for an experienced agent who represents several insurance companies? An agent who can help you choose the right insurer and be available if you have a claim? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Or just click “get a quote” above. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred business and personal insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.