Understanding Home Appraisal and Its Role in Home Insurance

Home appraisal is a critical part of the home-buying process, but did you know it can also plays a significant role in your home insurance? Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, serving the greater Portland, ME, area, wants to help you understand how appraisals impact your insurance coverage.

What Is a Home Appraisal?

A home appraisal is a professional assessment of your property’s market value conducted by a licensed appraiser. They consider factors like your home’s condition, size, location, and recent comparable property sales to determine its fair market value.

The Connection to Home Insurance:

  1. Setting Coverage Limits: The appraised value is different than the insurance amount. Insurers use rebuilding cost to determine the appropriate coverage limits for your home insurance policy. That can be more or less than the market value. You want to be sure you have enough coverage to rebuild or repair your home in case of damage or loss.
  2. Avoid Being Underinsured: You might underestimate your home’s replacement cost without an accurate replacement cost estimate. In the event of a claim, this could leave you with insufficient coverage to fully recover your losses.
  3. Premium Calculations: Your home appraisal can document factors that influence your insurance premiums. For example, a new roof, heating system or other update that can reduce your insurance cost.  It can also flag repairs or updates that need to be made, which can increase costs.

Using Your Home Appraisal for Insurance:

  1. Share It with Your Agent: Provide a copy of your home appraisal if they ask for it. Depending on other information that’s available, they may not need it.
  2. Consider Special Coverage: If your home has unique features or high-value items, consider customizing your policy that provide additional coverage beyond standard limits.
  3. A Home Appraisal is Not an Insurance Inspection: after they write your policy, your insurance company will inspect your home. That’s different than a real estate appraisal or a pre-purchase inspection. Here’s what to expect from an insurance inspection.

If you have questions about a home appraisal or home insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, serving the Portland, ME area at 207-799-5541.

Should You Install a Water Shutoff?

A water shutoff system can help avoid a common cause of building damage: water leaks. They aren’t cheap, but neither is water damage. Some insurers offer discount codes for these systems. Installing one may also qualify you for an insurance discount.

Water shutoff systems can minimize damage from plumbing leaks.

Water – The Most Common Property Insurance Claim

Most home and business owners worry about fire or theft damaging their property. But water damage is far more likely. According to Leak Defense, you are 7X more likely to have water damage than a fire. Moreover, water losses are 6X more common than burglaries.

There are 2 broad categories of water damage:

  • Weather related water damage such as: ice dams; wind-driven rain; or backup of sewers or drains.
  • Non-weather related water damage such as: plumbing leaks; tub overflows; or frozen pipes.

Water Damage is Expensive and Disruptive

Water damage is expensive. The average 2018 water damage claim for Hanover Insurance was $10,849. That’s just the water damage, not including the insurance deductible or the plumber’s bill to fix a leaky fixture. And costs have only increased since then. This Hanover Insurance infographic shows that buildings older than 20 years are more likely to have issues.

Water damage also disrupts your life or business. Hanover reported that the average length of impact from water damage to homes was 3 to 6 months. In severe cases, that can mean moving out of your home during repairs.

Water Shutoff Valves Can Minimize Losses

A water shutoff system does just what its name suggests. It monitors water flow in a building’s plumbing and automatically shuts off the water when it detects too much. It also alerts the building owner or manager so they can correct the problem.

The longer water flows from a leak, the more damage it causes. Shutting the water off quickly reduces the extent of water damage. That can be the difference between a minor mess and a major disaster.

How Much Do Water Shutoff Systems Cost?

Prices vary from building to building. For example, a professionally installed shutoff device in a home might cost $3,000 to $5,500. Commercial installations would cost more.

Sensor systems without shutoff valves can cost as little as $100 and you can install them yourself. However, low-cost sensors only alert you. They don’t shut off the water, which is so important to reduce damage.

Some insurance companies offer discount codes or special pricing for water shutoff systems. Check with your agent to see if your insurance company does this.

Insurance Discounts for Automatic Water Shutoffs

Many insurance companies offer discounts for customers who install automatic water shutoffs. Although the discount is only a fraction of the cost of the system, it helps offset the cost and rewards those who take this extra step to protect their property.

Not every system qualifies. Most insurers require:

  • Automatic water shutoff valve
  • 24/7 reporting to a monitored service
  • an approved vendor. This varies by insurance company. Check with your agent before you commit to install one.

Answers to Your Water Damage Insurance Questions

Do you own a home, condo or business in the Portland Maine area? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland. We offer a choice of Maine’s top personal and business insurance companies. That means we can search and compare for the best value for you.

We’re independent and committed to you.

What is Personal Injury Liability Coverage?

Personal injury liability coverage fills an important coverage gap in many policies. Off-the-shelf personal and business liability policies cover Bodily Injury and Property Damage. But you can be sued for reasons that fall between the cracks.

Personal injury liability insurance fills an important coverage gap in most policies.

What Is Personal Injury Liability?

Personal injury means non-physical injuries. Some examples:

  • Invasion of Privacy – interfering with someone’s right to be left alone or to control their personal space or information.
  • Libel – writing, posting or publishing something false or damaging about someone.
  • Slander – saying or broadcasting something false or damaging about someone.
  • False arrest – detaining someone without legal authority or justification.
  • Malicious prosecution – bringing legal action against someone with the intent to harm them. Suing someone without reasonable grounds.

This coverage is not included in the standard homeowners, renters, condo or business liability policies. You can usually add it for a small additional premium.

What Are Some Examples of Personal Injury Liability Claims?

  • A person posts on Instagram about a negative experience at a restaurant. The restaurant owner sues for libel.
  • A landlord enters an apartment to check something while the tenant isn’t home. The tenant finds out and sues for invasion of privacy.
  • At happy hour, a golf club member tells others that a certain member cheats. That member sues the accuser for slander.
  • A homeowner sees someone in the neighborhood who looks suspicious to them. They call the police and detain them until the police arrive. The person is actually a fellow resident out for a walk. They sue the caller for false arrest.
  • A parent posts photos online of their child’s soccer game. Another parent sues the poster for invasion of privacy.
  • A store owner accuses teen of shoplifting. They keep them in the store until the police arrive. Even though the police confiscate the stolen items, the teen’s parents sue the store for false arrest.
  • A resident puts a large sign on their lawn, against HOA rules. Another neighbor complains. The neighbor with the sign sues the other for malicious prosecution.

What Does Personal Injury Liability Insurance Pay For?

If someone sues you for these types of injuries, Personal Injury insurance can:

  • Provide an attorney to defend you – even if the claim is baseless.
  • Pay legal fees and court costs
  • Pay settlements or judgments

Who Needs Personal Injury Coverage?

Almost everyone is exposed to personal injury liability. For example, if you or a family member:

  • Live, work or go to school near other people
  • Have a high-profile job or volunteer position
  • Use social media
  • Own income property
  • Encounter someone with a history of disputes with others.

Liability Insurance in Maine

Do you live or own a business in Southern Maine? Looking for answers about liability insurance? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies. We’ll do our best to help you find the right coverage within your budget.

We’re independent and committed to you.


Maine Insurance Rates 2Q 2023 Home and Auto Update

Maine insurance rates are affected by national and local trends. Home and auto rates continue to jump as insurers and customers struggle with rising claim costs and construction values. Portland Maine area insurance buyers saw almost a 15% price increase in the 2nd quarter of 2023. Still, Maine insurance rates remain among the lowest in the US.

Maine Insurance Rates – April to June 2023 – Auto

In the 2nd quarter of 2023, Portland Maine area auto insurance rates jumped 11.6% on average at renewal, up from 2% a year ago. The average annual auto insurance policy in Cumberland County costs $1374 per year.

According to a report by Insurify, personal auto prices were up 17% countrywide in the first half of 2023. Insurify says that Maine rates increased even more: 28% statewide. That was the 6th highest rate in the US.

Maine insurance rates for auto rose 11.6% in 2Q 2023.

Insurers continued to report higher than expected losses as body shops and mechanical repair shops passed along higher costs. Used auto prices spiked during COVID and settled above pre-pandemic levels. Finally, auto rental times remain very long as body shops require much more time to schedule repairs. All of these factors, along with medical cost increases, put strong upward pressure on auto insurance rates in 2Q 2023.

Maine Insurance Rates – Home – April to June 2023

Maine home insurance rate increases continue to outpace even large auto insurance increases. The average home insurance premium was 13.3% higher than a year ago. That’s up from 4% a year ago. The end is not in sight yet.

Maine insurance rates for homeowners rose 13.3% in 2Q 2023.

Many of the same inflationary pressures pushed home prices higher. Building materials and labor costs have dropped from post-COVID peaks, but remain historically high. It’s been difficult and expensive to find contractors. That delays repairs and increases claim costs.

But reinsurance costs remain one of the biggest drivers of property insurance rates. Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies. It protects them against catastrophic losses from natural disasters like wildfires, blizzards, ice storms, hurricanes and tornadoes. Many insurance companies continue to see their reinsurance costs jump 30-50% this year. Insurance companies must pass on that cost to their customers.

Although this isn’t great news for Mainers, we’re better off than many areas of the country. Extreme weather has caused wildfires in the west and north, tornadoes and heat in the south and torrential rains elsewhere. Insurance companies have responded by canceling policies in Florida, Louisiana and California, and reducing their new policy offerings elsewhere.

Compare Your Options with an Independent Agent

Most financial advisors recommend comparing to get the best insurance value. If you live in southern Maine, you can get up to 5 insurance quotes in 10 minutes from our website. Or contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541 for a free no-obligation custom review. We offer a choice of several insurance companies. That means we can help you find the best insurance value.

We’re independent and committed to you.


Artwork Insurance for Maine Homes

Off the shelf policies don’t provide proper artwork insurance. Homeowners, renters and condo policies have limited coverage. To really protect your collection requires a bit more.

artwork insurance is best handled by scheduling your pieces

GOOD – Basic Policies and Artwork Insurance

Home, condo and renters policies protect your belongings. They pay for damage by fire, theft plumbing leaks and 14 other perils. Personal Property (Coverage C) is the most your policy will pay. Off-the-shelf policies value your property at Actual Cash Value. That’s defined as replacement cost minus depreciation. That’s a start, but we recommend more.

BETTER – Two Upgrades for Artwork Insurance

Even if you don’t have much artwork we recommend two important upgrades to the base policy.

  • Replacement Cost Coverage for Personal Property. You want the insurance company to pay you the full cost to replace damaged or destroyed items. This endorsement removes the depreciation deduction. Only your deductible applies. We sometimes call this “new for old” coverage.

    Replacement cost coverage is an option on homeowners, condo or renters policies.
  • Special Coverage for Personal Property – also called “open perils” or HO-5 coverage. This expands the causes of loss that your policy covers. The basic policy covers 16 named perils. That’s exactly what it sounds like. Only listed perils are covered. Some examples: fire; vandalism; smoke; and plumbing leaks.

    But what if you leave your window open, and rain damages your artwork? Or, someone spills wine on it? Those aren’t among the 16 named perils. You need open perils coverage for your policy to pay.

BEST – Scheduled Artwork Insurance

Scheduling your valuable articles gives the best artwork insurance coverage. That means listing and describing each piece and assigning a value to it. This is the best way to insure many types of valuables. That includes jewelry, antiques, rugs or special collections. You may see it on your policy as Scheduled Personal Property.

Important Benefits of Scheduling Artwork

  • Sets the value BEFORE a loss – it can be hard to describe your artwork after it’s completely destroyed or stolen. It’s also difficult to prove what it was worth. Scheduling it establishes the value before the loss, not after. The insurance company will pay the lesser of
    • the cost to repair the item;
    • the cost to replace the item;
    • the amount listed on the schedule.
  • Provides Special Coverage – like the open perils coverage described above. For example: hanging hardware fails and a painting crashes to the floor. The frame breaks. It’s covered! But it wouldn’t be without special coverage or scheduling.
  • Removes the deductible – most property policies have a $1000 deductible or more. But scheduled property is usually covered with no deductible at all.

Valuing Your Artwork for Insurance

Many insurers allow you to set the value of your own artwork up to a limit. Often, that limit is $5,000. Any single piece valued over that needs an appraisal to justify the value. Insurance companies may require updated appraisals every 5 years. They want to make sure the valuation stays current.

If you have a lot of art or other valuables an insurance company might require an alarm system in your home. That usually means a system that’s monitored 24/7 by a service, not self-monitored via app or cell phone.

Want to Insure Your Maine Art Collection?

Do you live in Southern Maine and need artwork insurance? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred home insurance companies. We can help you find the best value for your collection.

We’re independent and committed to you.

Maine Insurance Rates 1Q 2023 Home and Auto Update

Maine insurance rates are following national trends. Home and auto rates are up as insurers try to catch up with rising claim costs and construction values. Portland Maine area insurance buyers saw almost a 10% price increase in the 1st quarter of 2023. Even so, Maine insurance rates remain among the lowest in the US.

Maine Insurance Rates – Auto – January to March 2023

Between January and March 2023, Portland Maine area auto insurance rates jumped 6.8% on average at renewal, up from 3.7% last September. The average annual auto insurance policy in Cumberland County costs $1341 per year.

Maine insurance rates for auto rose 6.8% in 1Q 2023.

Insurers reported higher than expected losses as people drove more after COVID reductions. Body shops and mechanical repair shops charged higher prices due to supply chain and labor shortages. Used auto prices spiked during COVID and settled above pre-pandemic levels. Finally, auto rentals are much more expensive, and needed longer due to body shop delays. All of these factors, along with medical cost increases, put strong upward pressure on auto insurance rates in 1Q 2023.

Maine Insurance Rates – Home – January to March 2023

Maine home insurance rates increased even faster than auto insurance. The average home insurance premium was 10.9% higher than a year ago. That’s up from 9.6% in September. And we haven’t seen the end yet.

Maine insurance rates for homeowners rose 10.9% in 1Q 2023.

Many of the same inflationary pressures pushed home prices higher. Building materials and labor costs spiked dramatically during COVID and haven’t settled completely back. It’s been difficult and expensive to find contractors. That delays repairs and increases claim costs.

But reinsurance costs are probably the biggest driver of property insurance rates. Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies. It protects them against catastrophic losses from natural disasters like wildfires, blizzards, ice storms, hurricanes and tornadoes. Many insurance companies saw their reinsurance rates jump 30-50% this year. Insurance companies must pass on the cost of reinsurance to their customers.

Compare to Find the Best Value

Most financial advisors recommend comparing to get the best insurance value. If you live in southern Maine, you can get up to 5 insurance quotes in 10 minutes from our website. Or contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541 for a free no-obligation custom review. We offer a choice of several insurance companies. That means we can help you find the best insurance value.

We’re independent and committed to you.

Why Property Insurance is More Important in a Tight Housing Market

It’s a tight housing market in Maine right now. Whether your rent or own, that means property insurance is more important than ever. High costs and tight supply define the current market.

  • Building material costs remain at historic highs.
  • Contractors are busy, often scheduling work months ahead.
  • Real estate inventory is very low, which means it’s hard to find temporary housing.
In a tight housing market, property insurance is more important than ever.

Whether you’re a homeowner, condo owner or renter, property insurance can help. If disaster strikes your home, property insurance may help in three ways.


Cleanup Expenses

Property insurance can pay to remove smoke odors from furniture or clothing. It can also pay to dry water-damaged property. This helps you to salvage the things you need and your favorite belongings. Without homeowners, condo or renters insurance, you would have to pay these costs out of pocket.

Temporary Living Expenses

What if your home is damaged so badly that you can’t stay there? Your homeowners, condo or renters insurance may help. It may pay the extra cost for you to stay elsewhere until you can move back or find a new place.

Since housing is tight, that can be expensive. Make sure you have enough Additional Living Expense coverage. We recommend at least 3 months’ rent cost for renters and 12 months rent cost for home or condo owners.

Rebuilding, Repair and Replacement Costs

If you own your home or condo, your property insurance may cover the cost to repair fire, water or wind damage. What if your belongings can’t be repaired? Your renters, homeowners or condo policy may pay to replace them.

  • Make sure you have replacement cost coverage. “Off the shelf” policies may only pay depreciated value.
  • Check your Personal Property coverage limit. Is it enough to replace your belongings “new for old”. Increase your insurance if necessary.
  • If you own your place, check your Dwelling coverage limit. Is it enough to rebuild? Building costs are very high in the tight Maine housing market. Make sure your policy is keeping up with inflation.

Local, Professional Advice is Important   

You can buy property insurance on the internet or from a call center. But why?

A local insurance agent doesn’t cost extra. They also know the local market and can advise you before and during a claim.

As an independent agent Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland offers a choice of many insurance companies. We can compare options for you. That saves time and money. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent for more information at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.  

    Insurance Rates Rise in 2023. Here’s Why

    Insurance rates will increase in 2023 for individuals and businesses. Insurance people increasingly expect what they call a “hard market”. Underwriting gets tighter. Insurance rates rise. Appetite for risk shrinks. It’s part of the natural insurance cycle. Here’s why we’re seeing it now.

    Insurance Rates Rise in Uncertainty

    Insurance companies use history and future expectations to set rates. When they feel confident in their claim predictions, rates are more stable. When confidence is lower, their risk of getting it wrong is higher. That means prudent insurance companies have to charge more “just in case”.

    These are uncertain and risky times. Weather and natural disasters are more extreme and difficult to forecast. Moreover, economic signals are mixed. Supply channels are challenged. Even public health is in flux. All that uncertainty prompts insurers to set rates cautiously. They need make sure they’ll be able to pay claims.

    Inflation Affects Insurance

    We all feel the effects of inflation. Prices are higher for everything from groceries and gas to lumber and plumbers. Insurance companies feel it too. Medical expenses, auto repairs rental, used cars, building materials and costs all increased dramatically during and after COVID.

    Some of those costs have settled, but none are where they were before. Meanwhile, insurance companies had to pay 2020 claims with premiums collected using 2019 rates – before anyone knew what was coming.

    Insurance Rates Rise After Disasters

    Wildfires, tropical storms, temperature extremes, droughts and floods and other disasters are more frequent. Insurance companies have paid billions in property claims. It makes no difference whether they believe these are trends or blips. Insurance companies need to prepare to collect enough premium to pay losses.

    The Reinsurance Effect

    You buy insurance to protect your family or business from disaster. Insurance companies do the same. They buy reinsurance each year to protect them from going bankrupt due to a catastrophe. Of course, reinsurers set their rates based on losses and projections, too. Now, the property reinsurance rates that insurance companies pay are rising by double-digits. Insurance companies pass that cost on to consumers as part of their rates.

    In Maine, we’re fortunate not to have many of these disasters. But we still share in the losses of other regions through reinsurance rates. And, we have harsh weather, too – remember the Ice Storm?

    Insurance Rates Vary – Choice is Important

    Although insurance costs are higher across the board, each insurer sets their own rates. That’s why it’s important to compare coverage and price to find the best value. As an independent insurance agency in South Portland, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance offers a choice of several preferred insurance companies. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent. We can help you compare and decide which is the best fit for you. We’re independent and committed to you.

    Maine Insurance Rates September 2022 Home and Auto Update

    Maine insurance rates remain among the lowest in the US. But home and auto rates are up as insurers struggle with rising claim costs and rising construction values. Portland Maine area insurance buyers saw increasing prices in the 3rd quarter of 2022.

    Maine Auto Insurance Rates – June to September

    Between June and September 2022, Portland Maine area auto insurance rates averaged a 3.7% increase at renewal, up from 1.7% last quarter. That’s still below the national average of 4.3%. 

    Maine insurance rates for autos increased 3.7% in 3Q 2022.

    About 62% of auto insurance buyers experienced an increase in premium. The other 38% saw premiums the same or less than before. Higher repair costs, delays finding replacement parts and increased driving speeds are all factors insurance companies site when they have to increase rates. Customers’ rates might decrease if accidents and violations “age off” or they choose to reduce or remove coverage on vehicles.

    Maine Home Insurance Rates – June to September

    Portland Maine home insurance renewal rates increased 9.6% from June to September. That’s rising faster than auto premiums, and an increase from last quarter’s 4.1% clip. That’s still less than the national average.

    Maine insurance rates for homeowners rose 9.6% in 3Q 2022.

    Home owners were more likely than auto insurance customers to see a rate increase: 91% saw a renewal increase. Only 9% saw rates stay the same or decrease. Higher building costs contributed to increased rates. So did longer rebuilding times due to labor shortages. The cost to rent temporary housing is very high now. That drives property insurance rates higher. So does the increasing cost of property reinsurance. That’s affected by disasters and other uncertainties.

    Maine Insurance Rates – Find the Best Value

    If you live in southern Maine, you can get up to 5 insurance quotes in 10 minutes from our website. Or contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541 for a free no-obligation custom review. We offer a choice of several insurance companies. That means we can help you find the best insurance value.

    We’re independent and committed to you.

    Maine Insurance Rates – Home and Auto Update

    Maine insurance rates are some of the lowest in the US. But home and auto rates are up as insurers struggle with rising claim costs and rising construction values. Fortunately, Maine insurance buyers are seeing smaller rate increases than much of the country.

    Maine Auto Insurance Rates

    As of June 2022, Maine auto insurance rates are averaging a 1.7% increase at renewal. That’s considerably less than the national average of 4.3%. The Wall Street Journal recently reported increases as high as 20%.

    The main factors driving auto insurance increases include:

    • More driving. Miles driven are returning to near pre-pandemic levels
    • More serious crashes. Traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high last year.
    • Higher repair costs. Parts and labor costs have both risen sharply due to staffing issues, shipping problems and supply chain glitches.
    • Higher used car prices. When insurance companies total a vehicle, they have to pay the current used car market price. Used car prices went through the roof recently.
    • Car rental issues. Auto body repair times are much longer. That means longer replacement rentals. Daily car rental costs have spiked, too.
    Maine auto insurance rates are up 1.7% at renewal as of June 2022.

    Maine Home Insurance Rates

    Maine home insurance rates are rising faster than auto premiums, at a 4.1% clip. That’s still less than the 6% national average. And at an average premium of $1005 per year, Maine home insurance is a relative bargain.

    Home insurance costs are affected by building values and claim costs.

    • Rebuilding costs. Building materials and labor costs spiked during the pandemic. Insurance companies have increased their “inflation guard” factors to provide increased coverage on renewals.
    • Longer repair times. Contractors are hard to find, too, which increases additional living expenses.
    • Unusual weather. Natural disasters caused $116 Billion in insured claims in 2021. Maine sees far less than the rest of the US. That’s one reason why our rates are lower. But insurers are feeling less certain about predicting future losses.
    Maine home insurance rates average a 4.1% increase in June 2022

    Individual Home and Auto Insurance Rates Vary

    Every insurance company files their rating plan with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. That plan includes individual rating factors such as driving record, insurance claim history, property location and personal insurance scores.

    Maine Insurance Rates – Find the Best Value

    If you live in southern Maine, you can get up to 5 insurance quotes in 10 minutes from our website. Or contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541 for a free no-obligation custom review. We offer a choice of several insurance companies. That means we can help you find the best insurance value.

    We’re independent and committed to you.