Is Rain Storm Damage Covered by Insurance?

 

Maine weathered a huge storm today. About 6″ of rain overwhelmed storm drains, flooding streets, basements and parked cars. Fortunately, it was only a rain event. Winds were not damaging. Here are the most common questions we expect from our clients after they survey the damage.

Does Auto Insurance Cover My Flooded Car or Commercial Vehicle?

Flooded Parking LotIf you have “other than collision” coverage on your vehicle, water damage from flooding is covered. Other Than Collision coverage was formerly known as “comprehensive” coverage. If your car was inundated and needed to be towed to a mechanic for evaluation and repair, the towing would be covered, even if you didn’t purchase separate “towing” coverage. Of course, your deductible (usually $250 to $1,000) would apply.

 

Does Homeowners or Condo Insurance Cover My Flooded Basement?

This one’s trickier. If the water came over the sills of your foundation, only flood insurance would cover that. Homeowners policies do not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is only offered by the National Flood Insurance Program. Every Maine independent insurance agency sells flood insurance.

If water backed up into your home through a drain or sewer, your homeowners policy MAY pay for cleanup and repairs. You would have to purchase  optional coverage. An “off the shelf” homeowners or condo policy does not cover water backup.

Even if you do have water backup coverage, be careful. Most insurers limit coverage to $5,000, including the cost of water extraction and damage removal. Cleanup alone in a finished basement can cost $5,000 following serious water damage.

Is My Business Insured for Water Damage?

Business policies vary considerably. Many DO cover water backup, but very few cover flood damage from surface water. It’s best to ask your Maine business insurance agent if your own policy would respond.

Do you have questions about Maine business insurance, homeowners insurance, condo insurance or auto insurance? Do you want to get a Maine insurance quote? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541.

Uber Comes to Portland Maine: Are Uber Drivers Insured?

 

Rideshare service Uber began operating in Portland Maine at noon on October 2. Uber and its top competitor Lyft are innovative, efficient, popular – and controversial. uber screenshotEverywhere Uber and Lyft pop up, local lawmakers scramble to address it. Taxi operators and other livery drivers rail against it. And insurance companies caution drivers who might think about joining the Uber fleet.

Are Uber Drivers Insured?

If they have a personal auto policy, their own insurance will not cover them while they’re driving someone for a fee. Period. Every PAP excludes coverage while a vehicle is being used as a “public livery or conveyance“, which basically means driving others for hire. An Uber driver in an accident shouldn’t count on their personal insurance helping out.

You can’t blame insurance companies for that. If you’re driving for Uber, you’re probably driving more miles and hours than you otherwise would. You might be in areas unfamiliar to you, under time constraints, and at hours with higher congestion or impaired operators on the road. All of those increase the likelihood you could have an accident.

The Good News
Uber’s web site says that the service provides a commercial insurance policy with a $1 million limit per incident, including uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. That’s more than 90% of drivers in Maine have. It also provides $50,000 of “contingent comprehensive and collision insurance”, which should pay for repairs to an Uber driver’s vehicle as a result of an accident during an Uber trip.

Not So Good News
Uber’s insurance drops to to $50,000 per person for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage “between trips” – the absolute minimum limits allowed in Maine. That’s inadequate for most people who want to protect their assets or future earnings from an expensive lawsuit.

Uber says that most auto insurance policies will provide coverage during the time that the driver is logged on available for hire  but between trips. Talk is cheap. Don’t count on an insurance company seeing it the same way. When presented with a claim, expect an insurance company to say you were engaged in livery, just not actively driving someone – and deny your claim.

What Kind of Insurance Should an Uber Driver Have?
The only type guaranteed to cover you is a business auto policy, rated as livery use. If you insure your car with Maine commercial vehicle insurance  and are upfront about your Uber driving, you should be covered.

 Is Uber Rideshare Service Safe to Use?
If you’re thinking of taking a ride from Uber, you can expect that the driver has insurance while you’re in the vehicle. That includes if you’re hit by someone with no insurance. If you have a personal auto policy, you also have Medical Payments coverage (usually $5,000 or less) for minor medical expenses.

If you have questions about Portland Maine auto insurance or Maine business insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

Data Breach! Protect Your Maine Business With Cyber Liability Insurance

 

Every week we hear news of another household brand name suffering a data breach. Hannaford, Target, TJ Maxx, Shaw’s, Home Depot…the list goes on.

But local businesses are not immune from hacking. Many Maine small businesses – and their customers – were shocked recently to hear about a breach at two Portland, Maine locations of Otto Pizza, a local favorite.

Otto Pizza responded to the breach candidly, and with personal comments that struck at the heart of any local business owner:

Quote from Otto Pizza about theft of their customers' data

Cyber attacks are a constant threat to your Maine office, retail store or professional practice. You no longer have to be a “big fish” to be a target. Hackers, phishers and the like are always looking for low-hanging fruit in the form of networks with poor security. After beefing up your security, you should insure your Maine business against data breach in case it does happen.

How Do Data Breaches Happen?

Some common scenarios that can lead to data breach in your business or professional practice:

  • Unauthorized access – hackers gain access to your POS system or computer network.
  • Theft of Computers – Someone steals your laptop, backup data or server that holds customer or employee personal information.
  • Improper Disposal of client or patient records.
  • Human Error – your bookkeeper mixes up 1099 forms and mails them in the wrong envelopes, exposing personal information to others.

 

Sobering Data Breach Statistics

 

infographic: Statistics about business data breaches

 

 

 What Does Data Breach Cyber Liability Insurance Pay For?

What does Cyber Liability Insurance pay for?

Cost of Maine Cyber Liability Insurance

Data breach protection is a surprisingly affordable addition to most Maine small business insurance portfolios. Coverage for basic limits such as $10,000 first party and $25,000 third party are available for premiums as low as $150 per year.

What to Do in Case of a Data Breach at Your Business

  1. Notify the police immediately
  2. Report the breach to your business insurance agent or company
  3. Take all steps to protect any confidential data remaining in your control.
  4. Preserve all evidence of the breach itself.

For answers to your Maine business insurance questions, including data breach and cyber liability insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We represent many insurance companies so we can help you find the best insurance fit for your business and budget. We’re independent and committed to you.

FMI:

Payment Card Security Standards

CyberRisk 2014 White Paper by Insurance Information Institute

Does Your Home Insurance Cover Short Term Rental?

From Portland to Cape Elizabeth, Pine Point to Sebago Lake, peer-to-peer rental services are very popular in Maine. Recent articles in the Portland Phoenix and Portland Press Herald suggest that the practice is increasing. Does renting your Portland Maine area home, apartment or condo via a short term rental service like AirBNB, HomeAway or VRBO affect your insurance? You bet!

rentme

You’ll Have Almost No Coverage for Your Stuff – Ever!

If you regularly rent your home or part of it, most Maine homeowners insurance policies limit coverage for your personal property (stuff) to $2,500 per unit. If your place burns down, or is damaged by a storm, you’ll have very little insurance coverage to replace  your belongings, furnishings, appliances, clothing, sporting goods or tools.

Even worse news: your home doesn’t have to be rented at the time. It only has to be “regularly rented or held for rental”. Does listing your home on a website with a calendar of availability make it “regularly held for rental”? The insurance company might say so.

You May Have No Liability Protection Either

Do you rent your entire home more than “occasionally”? If so, you have no liability coverage on your homeowners policy. What’s occasionally, you ask? The policy doesn’t define that. Nervous yet?

Do you rent part of your home or condo to someone who brings more than 2 others? Homeowners insurance policies exclude liability coverage completely. If your tenant or their guest gets hurt, who do you think they’ll expect to pay their medical bills, lost wages and pain & suffering? Even if you aren’t at fault, you might have to hire a lawyer to defend you.

Does the Peer-to-Peer Network Protect You?

We haven’t seen any insurance agreement that covers you where your homeowners, renters or condo policy does not. We have seen one that completely replaces a homeowners policy with a commercial insurance policy, at a higher cost. If you rely on protection from the peer-to-peer site, we recommend that you read their insurance contract very, very carefully.

Can Your Insurance Company Cancel Your Homeowners Policy if You Rent Your Property?

Many insurance companies believe that their ordinary homeowner’s insurance rates are insufficient to pay losses resulting from renting your home. They may ask you to stop renting or to make changes in your home. If you fail to comply, they may cancel your policy. That may tempt you to not tell your insurer about your rental income, and hope for the best. That’s taking a big risk.

We recommend that you talk to your Portland area insurance agent before you rent your home. They can discuss options for properly insuring you against catastrophic loss. It may cost a bit more, but at least you’ll know you have coverage.

For more information about Portland Maine homeowners, condo or renters insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541.

Cape Elizabeth Student Hits Half Court Shot for Jackpot

Marshall, a student from Cape Elizabeth, Maine won the jackpot on January 8, 2013 in the Cape Booster Shoot sponsored by Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance.

Marshall quckly swished a foul shot and three-point shot, which allowed him several attempts from half court within the allotted 30 seconds. Watch the video below:

Marshall splits the $600 jackpot with the Boys Basketball Boosters. Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance, an independent insurance agency in South Portland Maine, has sponsored the Booster Shoot for several seasons.

At every Cape Elizabeth High School Boys Basketball home game, a ticket is drawn. The winner tries to sink a foul shot, three-pointer and halfcourt shot in 30 seconds. The jackpot increases by $100 every game until someone wins. Several students of various ages, from grade school to college have hit the jackpot.

Noyes Hall & Allen is happy to support the Cape Elizabeth High School Boys Basketball Boosters.

Love, Insurance Style: Marriage, Divorce and Your Home and Auto Insurance

 

On November 6, 2012, Maine voters approved citizen initiative Question One, allowing same sex marriage. Yes on One proponents claimed that only marriage, granted same sex couples equality with their heterosexual counterparts. No on One proponents were concerned that a change in the traditional definition of marriage as “one woman, one man” might affect many aspects of life.

How Important is Marriage in Insurance?

In a word, VERY. Most people justifiably think medical insurance is the type most affected by marriage. That’s where most of the public discussion is, too. But Maine homeowners and auto insurance contracts also treat spouses very differently than other people. We thought it was important to share how being married affects your Maine home and auto insurance. Our discussion is limited to ISO homeowners and personal auto policy forms. These are the most common forms in Maine. Although they are industry standards, your policy form may be different.

What Happens to Your Homeowners Insurance When you Get Married?

Spouses who reside in the same household are automatically defined as “YOU”. In insurance, it’s good to be YOU.

It’s worth taking a step back to see who is an INSURED on a homeowners policy. On most policies, an

INSURED is defined as:

  • YOU;
  • your resident relatives;
  • full time students who are < 24 and your relatives, and lived with you prior to moving out; and
  • certain other minors in your care.

Perhaps you can see a problem here for couples who are not married: Are they insured or not?

To answer that, we have to ask the grammatically incorrect question, “who is YOU?”

“YOU” is defined as:

  • The Named Insured, as shown on the front page of the policy (called the Declarations);
  • That person’s spouse if they are a resident of the same household.
AHA! So, if you and your partner bought property together, and are both listed as Named Insureds in the Declarations, you’re all set. But what if your name isn’t on the policy? You’re not an insured!  What if your partner bought the house and you moved in later? Sorry, you’re not an insured. 

What if you were married instead?

Even if your name was not on the policy, you are a YOU as long as you live in the same household. Pretty important, don’t you think? Let’s say you move in with someone who already owned a home. In this case – which is quite common – being married is the difference between having insurance for your property and protection from lawsuits and having none at all!
Of course, this example applies to any couples, straight or gay.

How Marriage Affects Auto Insurance

The definition of YOU in the auto policy is quite similar. It includes the Named Insured and a spouse who is a resident of the household. One additional benefit of being married in an auto insurance policy is that the policy: your interest in the policy transfers to a surviving resident spouse upon your death.

Warning!

You probably noticed that a spouse must be a resident of the same household to have all of these benefits. If you separate, your status changes. Divorce affects your homeowners and auto insurance, too. It’s important that you contact your Maine insurance agent to talk about these situations. They can help you make sure that you remain insured, one way or another.

If you live in Southern Maine and are looking for an Portland Maine area independent insurance agency that can answer these and other insurance  questions, call Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799.-5541.

 

 

Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Sandy (aka Frankenstorm)

 

The path of Hurricane Sandy is still uncertain. Most recent estimates indicate that the storm will make landfall south of Maine.

A Storm That Misses Still Can Cause Damage

Even if the storm hits well to our south, high winds and rain are predicted over a large area, including ours. Forecasts include a very wide wind-field and varied degrees of rain and potential flooding that will probably affect at least Southern Maine.

nhc.noaa.gov – as of 1100 10/26/12

Prepare Your Business

Better to prepare your business for the worst and never have to use it than to be completely unprepared. Peerless Insurance Company has created an excellent pre-hurricane checklist for businesses, which we have shared below.  We hope you find it helpful to prevent and mitigate costly losses and interruptions to your business.

Pre-Hurricane Checklist (.pdf, 85k)

 

We are happy to answer your questions about Maine business insurance, from workers’ compensation to business property to commercial vehicles and general liability. Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799.5541.

Does Insurance Cover Damage From Water Main Breaks?

 

After the recent rash of water main breaks in South Portland Maine, many locals wonder if their Maine business insurance policy or Maine homeowners insurance covers water damage from such an occurrence.  Here are some answers, depending on what kind of Maine insurance policy you purchased.

Is the Water District Responsible for Broken Water Mains?

In general, Maine public utilities are not considered liable except in cases of negligence. If they were repairing a main and forgot to shut off the water before disconnecting, causing a flood, you might have recourse. If the break is caused by an unforeseen circumstance, wear & tear, etc., you are probably on your own to repair the damage.

Basic Insurance Policies

Off-the-shelf Maine business property insurance policies do not cover water backup or flood damage. Neither do basic  Maine homeowners, renters or condominium policies. While most do cover damage from leaking, freezing, or breaking of plumbing fixtures and appliances on the premises, damage from water that comes from the ground or under the ground is excluded.  The two most common coverages that you can purchase are Water Backup Coverage , Underground Line Insurance Coverage and Flood Insurance.

Water Backup Insurance Coverage

Maine businesses and residents can purchase an endorsement to their property insurance policy that covers backup of sewers and drains. Water backup insurance is relatively inexpensive, because it only covers damage from water that backs up into your building. Damage from surface water or seepage through a foundation are not covered. If the water main break caused your drain to overflow, backing water into your building, you may have coverage. Unfortunately, that’s not usually what happens with a water main break. Usually, the water bubbles to the surface and inundates an area. To get coverage for that, you need to buy flood insurance.

Underground Line Insurance

Some Maine insurance companies now offer underground service line coverage. They have a coverage limit – often $10,000, with a $500 deductible. Insurers now selling this coverage in Maine include Andover Companies, Concord Group and Vermont Mutual. Some sell the coverage a la carte, while others include it in a special bundle of coverage. In all cases, you have to purchase it – it’s not automatically covered by homeowners policies.


Related Post:

More Maine Home Insurers Cover Water & Sewer Lines


Flood Insurance in Maine

Only a small percentage of residents and businesses in Greater Portland purchase Maine Flood Insurance. That’s unfortunate. They think that because they’re not in an area that susceptible to flooding, they’ll take their chances. Maybe they never even thought about buying flood insurance.  But, many events can cause a flood, from heavy rains to hurricanes to snowmelt.

To be defined as a flood, surface water must cover area that is normally dry land. If that area is more than 2 acres, or at least 2 contiguous property parcels are affected (including yours), you have experienced a flood. The only way to buy flood insurance is to buy a special flood policy (except for specially policies generally reserved for large corporations and commercial projects). Flood insurance policies exclude damage from water than seeps or leaks onto your property, unless a flood was the proximate cause of the leak.

If your home or business is in southern Maine, we would be happy to answer your questions about insuring your property. We have provided Maine business property insurance and personal insurance services to the Portland Maine area for more than 75 years. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent at 207-799-5541.

Which Are The Largest Home and Auto Insurance Companies in Maine?

 

Are you shopping for Maine car insurance or Maine homeowners insurance? You might be interested to know what insurance companies your neighbors have chosen. The Maine Bureau of Insurance gathers and reports data on the largest insurers in the state. We’ve compiled it below.

2011 Maine Homeowners & Auto Insurance Market Share Leaders
(click to enlarge)

Surprised?

Insurers that spend the most on advertising aren’t always the biggest. A certain direct writer with a cold-blooded spokesman spends $1 billion a year on advertising. It’s hard to watch TV or listen to the radio without being exposed to one of their ads. But, they’re not even in the top 5 insurers in Maine.

Companies that sell primarily through Maine independent insurance agents spend far less on advertising. They rely on the agents who represent them (like us) to recommend their company when it best fits our clients’ needs. That’s why some of the top insurance companies in Maine like Concord Group or Peerless Insurance may not be household brands, but are actually IN more households than some of the “big names”.

Here’s a detailed list of the 26 largest insurers of homes and autos in Maine:

List of the 26 largest home and auto insurers in Maine in 2011

 

If you think this is surprising, stay tuned for our report on insurers’ complaint ratios in Maine.

If you have questions about Maine home and auto insurance, we’re happy to help. Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541.

 

Protect Your Maine Retail Store From Theft

Organized Retail Crime is widespread and on the rise, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation. A record 96% of the 125 retail survey respondents reported being the victim of organized retail crime in the past year, and almost 88% said that Organized Retail Crime had increased in the past 3 years. The survey respondents cited special concerns in cargo theft, fraudulent returns or gift cards, and collusion.

Organized Retail Theft in Maine

Maine retail business insurance clients have not been immune. From the Maine Mall to Main Street, Portland to Maine’s most rural outpost, clothing shop to convenience store, business insurance claims for theft are filed every day.

Organized theft is a special problem says Curtis Picard, Executive Director of Maine Merchants Association. “These are not people stealing to feed their families; these are not crimes of convenience. These are groups or gangs purposely stealing specific items with the intent to resell them and they do hit Maine.”

Organized retail theives don’t target a specific store. They target specific items. They want higher value items that are widely used and easy to steal in quantity. Popular targets are baby formula, over the counter medications and believe it or not, Tide Laundry Detergent.

“The internet has made it so much easier to resell these items. Search Prilosec or Crest White Strips on a site like eBay; you will see numerous listings for these items featuring ‘new in box’ or ‘original packaging’. Chances are these items were stolen”, Picard says.

Employees of a well-known store in Kittery can sometimes spot vans unloading several individuals who spread out to hit multiple stores at once, Picard says. It doesn’t matter where your store is – only what you sell. If your store has the items they are looking for, you may be a target.

Retail Fraud in Maine

Theft of items is only one problem, according to Picard. “UPC Code swapping, fake receipts and gift card theft are other forms of Organized Retail Crime. Thankfully, Maine retailers and law enforcement maintain a good relationship and get together at various times during the year to share information about groups. That cooperation has lead to more arrests and better prevention.”

Maine Merchants’ web site has .pdf copies of Maine Police Intel Bulletin for Retail, that provide some examples, including:

  • Pharmacy thefts in Southern and Central Maine
  • Convenience store and credit union robberies in Portland
  • Burglary in Fort Kent
  • Electric motors stolen in Oxford County
  • Burglaries in Freeport, New Gloucester and other areas.

Unfortunately, the funding for that crime bulletin has dried up, according to Picard. Yet the risk to Maine retailers remains.

Protect Your Retail Business Against Crime

Educate Yourself and Your Employees – Thieves are constantly adapting and trying new techniques. Joining  an organization like Maine Merchants can help you keep on top of trends through newsletters, meetings and other communications.

Get Involved in Your Neighborhood – Membership in a neighborhood business association like Portland’s Downtown District, South Portland Buy Local or the South Portland Waterfront Market Association  opens a channel for you to communicate and collaborate with other businesses in the area. It’s a great way to stay on top of changes in your neighborhood, from street construction to crime trends.

Protect Your Business – Invest in an alarm system. Install video cameras in areas where cash or high-value inventory is kept. Improve the lighting around your premises. Move target items to visible areas where you can keep an eye on them. Better yet, lock them up. Establish a policy to assure that employees are visible and vigilant in your store.

Buy the Right Insurance – Fortunately for most Maine business, property insurance is widely available to cover the peril of theft. Most smaller Maine retailers  purchase a Businessowners policy, which provides a bundle of commonly-needed coverage to protect them against theft and other property and liability perils. Larger retailers usually purchase a Commercial Package Policy. These can provide  similar coverage, but are more customized to the individual business.

If you are a Maine business owner or manager and have questions about business insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We represent many different commercial insurance companies and can help you find the right fit for your business. We’re also a founding member of the Katahdin Alliance, a group of independent Maine insurance agents with offices from York to Augusta, Kennebunk to Carrabassett Valley. So, if your business extends beyond Greater Portland, we can support you.