At its core, insurance is about SPREADING RISK and HELPING OUR COMMUNITY. Noyes Hall & Allen believes in these causes.
Insurance customers pay a small amount of money to help
those who suffer a catastrophe avoid financial disaster.
Health professionals tell us that limiting human contact now can “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 spread. The goal is to save capacity in the health care system for our most sick and vulnerable neighbors. We care about our clients, our co-workers and our community.
HELPING OUR COMMUNITY
Insurance contributes to the community in many ways. It pays
for losses of course. It also enables people to buy vehicles and homes; to
start businesses and hire people. Insurance promotes safety and risk education.
It provides good jobs for thousands of families. It supports local economies
By closing our office and serving you remotely, we hope to
reduce the community spread of a very serious virus. We want to practice public
health safety and risk management. We live and work here, too. Working remotely
also allows our team to be with their families. To provide care and comfort
during a stressful time.
INDEPENDENT AND COMMITTED TO YOU
Noyes Hall & Allen has been locally owned since 1933.
We’re independent – not beholden to any insurance company. That allows us to be
committed to YOU, our clients.
We know that you need us. We’ve prepared for an interruption
like this. While we’re closed, you can still accomplish anything that you
normally do here.
We hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and well.
We remain independent and committed to you. We’re always happy to answer any
questions about your insurance. Together, we will get through this tough time.
If a business downturn causes you to lay off employees, you might want to cancel your workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp coverage is required when you hire someone. Without employees, it’s overhead you would like to cut.
But canceling your insurance isn’t always the best move. Here’s why.
Three Reasons Not to Cancel Workers’ Comp Too Quickly
It’s hard to scale up again. Do you expect the downturn to be temporary? You will need to re-apply for workers’ comp when you hire employees again. This costs time, effort and money.
You may lose valuable dividends. MEMIC, Maine’s largest workers’ comp insurer, has paid dividends several years in a row. If you cancel, your business has to wait 3 years to start earning dividends again.
You may lose loss-free discounts. By canceling your policy, you lose the benefit of any loss-free discounts you’ve earned. When you re-start your policy, it takes time to accumulate those discounts again.
Cost-Cutting Alternatives to Canceling Your Workers’ Compensation Policy
Reduce estimated payroll. Workers’ comp premiums are based upon payroll amounts. Layoffs mean lower payrolls, so it’s fine to reduce estimates. This may create a refund without actually canceling your policy.
Change payment plans. Most workers’ comp insurers offer installment plans. Spreading payments may allow you to better match cash flow without losing benefits.
Updating your Maine workers’ comp policy may be smarter than
canceling it altogether. Closing your business, or have no plans to hire for
more than a year? Then it’s proper to cancel your workers’ comp insurance.
COVID-19, better known as Coronavirus, has everyone’s attention. It’s changed behavior around the world, and now it’s here. Business owners already feel it. Their customers’ routines are completely disrupted. No more non-essential shopping, eating at restaurants or going to shows. No going out for drinks or coffee. Instead, they’re stockpiling supplies, staying home, washing, disinfecting and keeping their distance.
COVID-19 is causing turmoil for businesses large and small. Inventory control and staffing are all messed up. Marketing and sales are on hold as clients and prospects are otherwise occupied.
What if Your Business Suffers due to Coronavirus?
Many businesses feel threatened.
What if fear causes my customers to stay home?
What if I can’t get inventory or supplies?
What if my employees get sick and can’t work?
What if I have to disinfect or close my workplace?
What if the government restricts movement in my area?
What if economic fear or market changes cause me to lose sales?
Do My Policies Cover Business Interruption?
Unfortunately, business insurance is very unlikely to cover you against lost business due to Coronavirus. Even if you purchased business interruption coverage, almost every policy excludes damage caused by communicable diseases.
If Not, Why Not?
You probably don’t care about the reason behind the exclusion, but there is one. Put simply, diseases are too uncertain for insurers to accurately price insurance to cover them.
Viruses are extremely rare – or even unknown – until they’re widespread. And it’s hard to quantify a resulting drop in business. Profits and sales are subject to changing factors: weather, competition, consumer preferences. It’s very hard to put a dollar value on lost sales directly caused by a public health threat.
Resources for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19
The US Small Business Association (SBA) has pledged to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits severely harmed by the Coronavirus.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million. The goal is to help small businesses overcome a temporary loss of revenue. These are loans, not grants. They must be repaid.
The Maine CDC Coronavirus information page is a good resource for Maine businesses and citizens. It contains factual and timely information about the disease and its effect on our state.
We’re Here to Help our Neighbors
We are a local business. We live and work in Greater Portland. While insurance may not be able to help our clients directly, we still want to be accessible. We want to help where and how we can.
Even if we must close or restrict access to our office, you can still reach us by phone, email or our website. Our insurance company partners also continue serving customers while keeping their employees safe.
Public health scares and economic uncertainty create anxiety. Most business owners feel responsible for the safety of their employees and customers, as well as their loved ones. We hope that all or our clients, friends and business partners remain safe and calm during these trying times. We’re here to answer your insurance questions.
In this anxious season, check on family and friends. Be kind to each other. Together, we can make it through.
Hiring an independent contractor a great way to expand your company’s products and services without adding overhead. The right sub can make you look good.
Subcontractor or Employee?
By Maine law, a worker is an employee unless they meet tests to be an independent contractor. That makes them subject to employment tax and workers compensation. If your Maine business hires independents, here’s what you need to do.
Get Documentation from Subcontractors
Workers compensation charges sub costs as payroll unless you have proof of subcontractor status. That can be a very expensive surprise. And the bill is due in lump sum.
Maine home owners have a lot to worry about. Homeowners insurance can help with some of the big ones. Most homeowners policies cover fire, wind damage, and water damage from plumbing leaks.
Other big expenses aren’t covered by basic homeowners insurance. Off-the-shelf policies exclude flooding, foundation leaks, and breakdown of systems and appliances. But many home insurers now offer a homeowners Equipment Breakdown Endorsement.
What Does the Mechanical Breakdown Endorsement Cover?
Your insurance company’s form may differ. But most cover the cost to repair or replace items hit by mechanical or electrical failure. Think heating systems, solar panels, appliances, electronics, IOT smart devices and more.
Your expensive dishwasher breaks down when the motor burns out.
A central air conditioner compressor fails.
The boiler or water heater break.
Your smart home monitoring system stops working.
The solar panels on your roof stop generating electricity.
What’s the Coverage Limit on Homeowners Equipment Breakdown?
Insurance company forms can differ, but many have a $100,000 limit. That’s enough to cover almost any system in American homes.
Does a Deductible Apply to Equipment Breakdown?
Yes. Usually it’s different than your regular homeowners policy deductible. $500 is a common deductible on homeowners Equipment Breakdown Endorsements.
What’s Not Covered by Equipment Breakdown?
Wear & tear and gradual deterioration are never covered. Everything eventually fails. Don’t expect insurance to pay for items past their useful life.
For example, if your 30-year old air conditioning compressor dies. the insurance company will likely deny your claim.
Other exclusions apply to all homeowners policies. Examples include intentional damage; flood; or seepage through a foundation.
Homeowners Equipment Breakdown Coverage vs. Home Warranty
Many home buyers buy a home warranty when they invest in a home. Home warranties help guard against big expenses in the first few years of ownership. They pay the cost of repairing or replacing major appliances or equipment.
Unlike Equipment Breakdown insurance, home warranties usually pay even for wear & tear. That’s why home warranty coverage is much more expensive than equipment breakdown coverage.
Equipment breakdown often costs less than $50 a year. Home warranties can cost $50 or more per month.
Why to Buy Homeowners Equipment Breakdown Coverage – or Not
You might purchase breakdown coverage on your homeowners if:
Your home or most of its equipment is newer.
The coverage is inexpensive.
It’s included in some bundle of other extra coverage that you want or need.
You might NOT purchase homeowners Equipment Breakdown coverage if:
You already purchased a home warranty
Your home’s equipment is older and you’re worried about breakdown due to wear & tear.
Do you own a home or condo in the Portland, Maine area? Have questions about equipment breakdown? Worried about big expenses from property damage? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s top property insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.
Will home insurance cover the cost to remove the smell? It depends on whether you bought “off the shelf” coverage or upgraded. It also depends whether your insurance company uses the latest edition of the coverage form (spoiler alert: in this case, the latest is NOT the best).
Skunk Spray Damage Coverage in Basic Homeowners Policies
The most common home insurance form is the ISO HO 00 03. Many Maine insurance companies use it. It’s tried and tested over decades. Insurance people call it “HO-3”.
Insurance Services Office (ISO) updates the form periodically. Each insurer decides which edition to use. In Maine, some insurers still use the 1991 version. Many use the 2000 edition. A few have adopted the 2011 edition.
Before the 2011 edition, “off the shelf” HO-3 policies covered skunk spray damage to buildings. Damage to contents was not covered by the basic policy.
The 2011 edition excludes “discharge or release of secretions by any animals”. Even building damage is no longer covered for skunk spray in the 2011 form.
Which Homeowners Policy Edition do You Have?
Your insurance policy should list coverage forms. The first two letters are the coverage type – “HO” for homeowners. The next four digits are the form number. Basic homeowners are 00 03. Condo policies are 00 06. Renters policies are 00 04. The final four digits are the month and year of the edition. For example, HO 00 03 05 11 is the 2011 edition of the basic homeowners policy.
Can You Buy Extra Insurance for Skunk Damage?
We recommend “open perils” coverage for contents. That covers skunk spray damage on the pre-2011 forms. Ask your agent if you’re eligible for that.
Unfortunately, we know of no way to add skunk spray coverage to the 2011 edition of the policy. The exclusion in the 2011 form denies coverage for skunk spray to both building or contents. You can’t buy it back. That stinks (sorry, we couldn’t help it).
What if a Skunk Sprayed My Vehicle?
You may have purchased “other than collision” coverage on your auto insurance policy. Some people call this “comprehensive” coverage. Most common auto insurance policies in Maine cover damage by animals. That includes skunk spray. So, if a skunk gets into your car and sprays, you probably have coverage. As long as you purchased “other than collision” coverage.
Check your property insurance policy’s coverage form and edition date
Ask your agent if you have “open perils” coverage. If not, get a quote to add it if you’re eligible.
If you’re on the 2011 homeowners form, ask your agent for a quote with a company that uses one of the older editions.
Do you live in the Portland Maine area? Have questions about home, condo, renters or auto insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. One of them is likely a good fit for you.
When a crash or disaster seriously damages your vehicle, it’s stressful and confusing. If the damage is bad enough, an insurance company might declare your vehicle a total loss. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often to most of us. What does it really mean when your vehicle is totaled?
What Does it Mean When a Vehicle is Totaled?
A vehicle is a total loss when the cost to repair it exceeds a percentage of its value. The calculation method and ratio vary state to state. Some states use a flat percentage of the vehicle’s value as a threshold. Other states add the salvage or scrap value of the vehicle. That’s called the formula method. In general, it’s easier to total a vehicle using the formula method. That’s because the salvage value is added to the value of the vehicle before calculating the percentage.
Maine uses the formula method. Maine law considers a vehicle a total loss if the damage plus the scrap value exceeds 75% of the value.
Vehicle’s pre-loss Value
Repair + Salvage
My Car’s Worth More than the Repair Estimate. Why is it Totaled?
When an insurance company totals your car instead of paying the repair cost, they sell the salvage. The scrap value is considered part of the value of your vehicle. If it’s cheaper for the insurance company to pay you the value of your car and recover the salvage, they will. If it’s cheaper for them to repair your vehicle, they will do that.
In Maine, if the cost to repair plus the scrap value exceeds 75% of your vehicle’s value, the insurance company can total it.
Why 75%? Insurance companies know there’s often hidden damage after a serious loss. When the repair shop removes outer damaged parts, more damage is revealed. That increases the repair cost from their original estimate. So, insurance companies use 75% to provide a safety factor. That way, they’re not paying more to fix your vehicle than it’s worth.
Why Nicer Cars Are Easier to Total
High end cars cost more to fix. Their salvage value is also higher. So, the nicer your vehicle, the easier it is to reach the 75% threshold. A newer vehicle with a lot of cosmetic damage (e.g. hail) may have no mechanical issue and still be totaled. That’s because many expensive mechanical parts are still good, increasing the scrap value.
What Happens When My Vehicle is Totaled in Maine?
If your Maine vehicle is totaled, you essentially sell it to the insurance company. They pay you the pre-damage fair market value of the vehicle. You sign the title over to the insurance company. They keep the salvage value after selling it. Usually, it’s sold at auction.
Can You Keep Your Vehicle in Maine After It’s Totaled?
You can buy your unrepaired vehicle back from the insurance company for its salvage value. You still sell the vehicle to the insurance company by signing over the title. They pay you the pre-damage value of your vehicle, minus the salvage value. They sell you a Maine salvaged title for the salvage value.
Can I Drive a Vehicle With a Maine Salvaged Title?
No. Once there’s a salvage title, all of the work on the repair estimate MUST be done before you can drive the vehicle. You and the repair garage must complete and submit Form MVT-103 to Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
When the State of Maine approves your vehicle repairs, it issues a rebuilt title. A rebuilt titled vehicle is worth less than one with a regular title.
Many insurance companies will not offer comprehensive or collision coverage for a vehicle with a rebuilt title. That’s because it can be difficult to assess the fair value of the vehicle.
The Insurance Company Wants to Total My Vehicle. Do I Have to Accept That?
You have the right to get your own repair estimate and choose your own body shop. Can you find one that will repair your vehicle for less than the threshold? Your insurance company might agree and pay the repair cost. Remember: in Maine, the 75% threshold includes the scrap value of your vehicle.
Once an insurance company totals your vehicle, you have a salvage title. You must repair the vehicle to drive it.
What if the damage is mostly cosmetic, and the car drives fine? You have the option to withdraw your claim and avoid a salvage title.
An Example of Withdrawing a Claim
Assume that a hailstorm pounds your vehicle. Dozens of dents on the hood, roof and trunk; a broken windshield. But the vehicle drives fine, and the dents don’t bother you. You could withdraw your insurance claim and pay to repair your windshield “out of pocket”. Although your vehicle may not look great, you might be able to drive it for many more years.
What if you withdraw your claim and don’t repair the body damage? Your insurance company will probably remove comprehensive and collision coverage. That’s because they wouldn’t pay for future damage; they already consider it totaled. Makes sense.
If you switch insurance companies, it’s important to declare the prior damage to them. The new insurance company will likely exclude comprehensive and collision coverage, too.
Questions About Maine Auto Insurance?
Do you live in Southern Maine and have questions about your auto insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred auto insurance companies.
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
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.
Notify the seller or credit card company. Some online retailers or credit card plans may provide a refund or replace your stolen item.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.