Party Time! Does Maine Homeowners Insurance Cover Renting a Hall?

 

It’s party season in Maine. Many of our clients will host a Bar Mitzvah, wedding, baby shower, reception, anniversary party, memorial service, graduation party, or fund raiser. They’ll rent a church hall, function hall, camp, country club, college or city building. And, they’ll call us for insurance advice.

The Good News: You’re Covered!

If you bought  homeowners, condo or renters insurance from Noyes Hall & Allen, your policy says:

6. “Insured location” means:
h. Any part of a premises occasionally rented to
an “insured” for other than “business” use.

Those terms in quotations are defined in your insurance policy. If your policy has your name on it, you’re an “insured”. If you’re not profiting from the function, it’s not a “business”.

Boom! Your Noyes Hall & Allen homeowners policy covers your liability from the function and the hall rental.

The Function Hall Should NOT Want to Be an Additional Insured

Every venue should have a rental contract. Most  contain “hold harmless” clauses. That means you agree to be responsible for what happens while you’re renting the premises. Scary? Maybe, but unless you want to have everyone at your house, you don’t have much choice.

Some venues ask to be an “additional insured” on your homeowners insurance policy. Additional insureds are common on Maine business insurance policies. That makes sense, since businesses operate various activities in many locations. It’s not the same on a personal policy.

That Word

The Additional Insured form on a homeowners insurance policy (HO 04 41) is different. It limits “insured” status to others to your home. In other words, it’s useless in a case where you’re renting a function room. No homeowners insurer that we are aware of allows “additional insured” status for cases like this.

Also, remember the “business” exclusion on the homeowners policy? That applies to all “insureds”. So your homeowners policy excludes the owner of the function hall from coverage as an insured anyway.

A function hall shouldn’t ask you to list them as an “additional insured”. Tell them we said so.

Let’s Keep it Simple

Your Maine homeowners insurance is a broad and powerful tool. It protects and defends you against injury and damage you’re liable for. That includes liability you assume by a contract.

You signed a rental contract for the hall. You agreed to hold the owners harmless for what happens during your function. If someone sues the owners for an accident at your function, they will turn that lawsuit over to the responsible one: you. And, your homeowners insurance will protect and defend you.

This is all INCLUDED in the homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy you already have. You should only need to prove to the hall that you have insurance. Call us, and we can do that for you.

What About Liquor Liability?

Homeowners policies cover you for what happens on the premises. They exclude liability from auto accidents. Look to an auto insurance policy first for that coverage. The driver’s auto insurance would protect you AND them. If the driver doesn’t have enough insurance, your own Maine auto insurance should also protect and defend you. The coverage and damages can vary greatly depending upon individual circumstances. Talk to your Maine insurance agent for individual advice.

Pro Tip: Hire a professional bartender. They’re trained to recognize when someone has reached their limit. Ask them for a certificate of liability insurance. Mingle with your guests and enjoy your party, instead of stressing out!

Do I Need Wedding Insurance?

Wedding insurance is a different product. It covers the additional costs created if your venue closes, your photographer or band cancels, or some other calamity happens. That’s different that the liability issue we’ve been discussing.

If you live in the Portland Maine area and have questions about renting a hall, wedding insurance, or other insurance questions, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent at 207-799-5541. Noyes Hall & Allen represents many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, and offers choice and professional advice. We’re independent and committed to you.

Ron Blumenthal Retires, Innova Insurance Clients Can Rely on Noyes Hall & Allen

 

Ron Blumenthal, the founder of Innova Insurance Services in Scarborough Maine, retired October 31. Ron sold Innova Insurance to Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in December, 2012. Ron had a close relationship with Noyes & Chapman for many years, which continued when Noyes & Chapman became Noyes Hall & Allen. Ron continued to work from the Noyes Hall & Allen office at 170 Ocean Street, South Portland Maine until his retirement.

Tina Countryman, who worked with Ron at Innova, remains at Noyes Hall & Allen, and continues to serve clients.

If you were a client of Ron Blumenthal at Innova Insurance, your insurance transferred seamlessly to Noyes Hall & Allen. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541.

Does a Maine College Student Need Their Own Insurance?

 

If you’re preparing to send a student off to college, your household is buzzing with activity. If your student is a freshman, there’s the added anxiety (for parents AND students) of doing it for the first time.

Many clients ask our Maine insurance agency these questions about insurance for college students:

Does homeowners insurance cover college students’ computers?

Generally, yes. If they’re living in college housing, they’re still considered part of your household. Your homeowners policy covers their books, clothes, jewelry, electronics and other property. What if you have a condo or renters insurance policy? Still covered. Remember, the same coverage limitations apply to property such as jewelry and money.

If your student does not live in college housing, be sure to consult your agent. Coverage can vary greatly in these situations.

Does homeowners insurance cover a “semester abroad”?

If your student is still a household member, your policy covers their belongings anywhere. If they accidentally damage property or injure someone, your homeowners policy defends any suit brought in the U.S.

Need broader protection? Some personal umbrella policies will also defend against worldwide liability suits. This is another great reason to buy Maine personal umbrella insurance.

Remember, NO auto policies cover outside of the US, its territories and Canada. If your student is driving in a foreign country, make other insurance arrangements there.

My child is not taking their car to school. Can I get a discount on my auto insurance?

You bet! There are a few restrictions: The school must be more than 100 miles away from your home, and the student should not have the car on campus. Don’t forget to ask your agent about the “good student discount” on auto insurance and other car insurance discounts.

Should I buy the medical insurance the college sells?

Our agency does not sell medical insurance, so we are not experts on this topic. Ask your medical insurance provider for their advice. If your family has no insurance coverage, then it may be a good idea to buy the college’s plan.

Have questions about Maine auto insurance, personal umbrella insurance or homeowners insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. As a locally owned Trusted Choice independent insurance agency, We represent many of Maine’s best insurance companies. We offer choice as well as professional advice. We’re independent and committed to you.

 

Does Maine Homeowners Insurance Cover a Sharknado?

 

Reader George asks via Twitter:

“Please settle a bar bet: If a #sharknado hits my house in Portland, Maine, would my homeowners insurance policy cover the damage?”

Great question, George. First, keep that bar stool handy; you might need it soon. Of course, we have to make some assumptions before answering that question:

  • You have the most common Maine homeowners insurance form, (commonly called an HO-3).
  • Your Maine homeowners policy doesn’t have a special wind deductible or exclusion.

The short answer is “yes”. While a terrifying sci-fi concept and irresistably campy movie idea, a sharknado is nothing more than a glorified windstorm. And, a standard Maine homeowners policy covers wind damage to your home.

What if the damage is caused by the shark, not the wind?

Wind damage includes anything that’s carried by the wind. Whether it’s a tree limb, storm debris, your neighbor’s deck furniture, or a man-eating shark, if the wind flings it into your house and damages it, it’s covered by your homeowners insurance.

What if a a sharknado destroys my car? Does my Maine auto insurance cover  damage from a sharknado?

If flying sharks damage your car, that’s also covered by your Portland Maine auto insurance – provided you bought “other than collision coverage”. But, we’re sorry to tell you George, but you won’t be needing your car to get home, and not only because you’ve been drinking.

Disclaimer:

Only a Maine insurance agent can advise you about your personal coverage and your insurance policy. Policy coverage can differ widely. If you’re looking for a Portland Maine insurance agent who can provide personal advice, including protection from a sharknado, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent at 207-799-5541. Oh, and there’s no such thing as a sharknado. As far as we know.

Should I Buy Trip Cancellation or Travel Insurance?

 

A client of our South Portland Maine insurance agency recently returned after wintering in the Caribbean.  She shared the story of a friend who fell on the island, breaking her leg. Fortunately, the travel insurance the couple had purchased saved the day – and thousands of dollars. The injured woman’s husband called the travel insurance company from the parking lot where his wife fell. Within 10 minutes, an ambulance arrived to transport her to the local hospital, where she was evaluated and stabilized. Once it was determined that her leg was broken, they wanted to return home for surgery and recuperation.

The next day, a private jet flew them from the island to their local airport, where an ambulance transported them to the hospital. The bill for the island hospital stay and medical evacuation to the U.S. was over $25,000. Travel insurance paid for nearly all of it. Without travel insurance, they would have been on their own to navigate the medical system of a foreign country. They may not have been able to afford to go home as quickly as they did, either.

Are you planning a big trip? Consider buying travel insurance. High end vacations require a lot of advance planning. Sometimes, the unforeseen happens between your deposit deadline and your travel date. If your plans change or if  the provider is unable to fulfill the trip, it could mean a significant cost to you. Vacation insurance protects you against the financial impact of some of the things that can go wrong on vacation.

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Policies differ, but most of  “package travel insurance” policies provide some coverage for:

  • Trip Cancellation
  • Trip Interruption
  • Missed Connection Flight Change Charges
  • Medical Expenses for Emergency Accident or Sickness
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation Expense
  • Baggage Delay, Loss and Theft

The amount of each coverage varies from policy to policy. Some programs also allow you to add optional limits and coverage.

How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?

The cost of travel insurance depends on:

  • The cost of your trip;
  • Your destination;
  • Age of travelers;
  • Method of travel;
  • Travel dates;
  • Level of coverage you choose.

For example, the cost to insure a $3,700 cruise to the Caribbean for a 50-year old lasting two weeks could cost as little as $161 per person.

What is Commonly Excluded  from Travel Insurance Policies?

  • Certain cancellation reasons (e.g. work, “change of heart”, etc.);
  • Injuries sustained in sports activities;
  • Identity Theft;
  • Political Evacuation;
  • Pre-existing Conditions (unless you purchase coverage shortly after making your travel deposit).

Many programs allow you to “buy back” these coverages.

3 Questions to Ask When Considering Travel Insurance

  1. Does my medical insurance cover me outside the U.S.?
  2. Do my credit cards protect me from trip cancellation?
  3. Does my auto insurance protect me where and when I travel?

If you live in Maine, travel insurance is available from Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you evaluate whether travel insurance is right for you. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen insurance agent at 207-799-5541.

Who Does an Insurance Adjuster Work For?

 

If you report an insurance claim, your insurance company assigns a claims adjuster to settle your loss. The adjuster’s job is to pay insurance proceeds required by the terms of your policy. Depending upon the type, severity and location your claim, you might work with different types of insurance adjusters:

Staff Adjuster

A staff adjuster is an employee of the insurance company. There are two types of staff insurance adjusters:

  • Inside adjusters are desk jockeys. They take statements over the phone, collect bills and documentation from you and anyone else involved in your loss or accident. The also gather information from police or fire officials, or your body shop or contractor. Though they may be hundreds of miles from you, they are often familiar with the area they are assigned to and the local retailers and repair shops.
  • Outside adjusters work in the field. They handle claims that require physical inspection. Outside adjusters specialize in auto, property or liability claims. Auto specialists are sometimes called appraisers. Many are trained in auto body repair techniques (or have repair shop experience), and work closely with body shops to agree on the repair cost for your vehicle.

Independent Adjuster

An Independent Adjuster (IA) is NOT an employee of the insurance company. Most are small business owners contracted by insurance companies to settle your claim when your insurance company does not have staff available. IA’s have a lot in common with independent insurance agencies. They often live and work in your area, and represent multiple insurance companies. Many independent adjusters are former insurance company staff adjusters. In order to be re-hired by an insurance company, an independent adjuster must provide excellent service to you, while keeping track of different insurance company policies and procedures.

Paid by Insurers

Both staff and independent insurance adjusters are paid by the insurance company; their job is to guide you through the (hopefully) unfamiliar process of claim settlement, and to pay you and others what’s fair. The claim adjuster job attracts empathetic people who enjoy helping others. After you’ve had one of  life’s unpleasant experiences, they enjoy it when they see a smile on your face at the end of the process.

Of course, no insurance company wants to over-pay for a claim. They do monitor adjusters to make sure they are paying only what’s fair. But good adjusters know that an insurance company is defined by its claim payment reputation. Insurance companies that treat people with respect and fairness enjoy a good reputation; those with a tight-fisted one quickly lose favor, especially in the age of Social Media.

Your Insurance Agent: Your Claim Advocate

In our South Portland Maine insurance agency, most insurance claims go very smoothly: the company adjuster connects quickly with you, gathers the information they need, and settles your claim without complication.  Sometimes, claims do go off track.  You might be extremely busy and have trouble connecting with the adjuster. The circumstances of your claim might require more investigation. Or, you or your adjuster may have a question about coverage.

Your local insurance agent can be your claims advocate. We can’t create coverage where there isn’t any, but we can help make sure you get the settlement you deserve. We can also help both you and the insurance company reach agreement and settle your claim quickly and fairly.

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

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.

 

 

Protect Yourself From Carbon Monoxide This Winter

 

About 20,000 Americans suffer from unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning every year, including 400 deaths. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if you inhale it.

Know the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Common symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, confusion, chest pain and nausea. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms. If you suspect CO poisoning, get outside immediately and call 911.

Tips to Avoid Deadly CO Poisoning

Properly use and maintain fuel burning appliances such as your boiler, furnace, space heaters and similar heaters. Have them professionally checked. Ideally, you should do this before the start of the heating season, but it’s not too late now.

Install a quality CO alarm. Check the batteries twice  a year, along with smoke detector batteries.

NEVER use these appliances indoors or in a closed garage:  a generator, charcoal or gas grill, pressure washer or other gas or propane fueled device.

Keep vents and flues clear of debris. 

NEVER leave your car idling in a garage.

Check your vehicle’s exhaust system for leaks to help prevent CO from collecting inside your vehicle.

In Case of Power Outage

NEVER use a gas range or oven to heat a home.

Run generators outdoors only– never in an enclosed space.

Photo of generator
emergency.cdc.gov

Use flashlights for indoor light – not liquid fuel lanterns.

Use gas or charcoal grills or camping stoves outside – never indoors.

If your home gets too cold, go to a friend’s house or a community shelter.

 

Our local Maine insurance agency wants you to stay warm and safe this winter. If you have questions about whether your Maine homeowners, condo or renters insurance covers winter storm damage, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541.

 

 

Insurance for a Maine Home with a Wood Pellet Stove or Wood Boiler

 

Wood and pellet stoves and boilers have long been a popular source of heat for Maine homes and businesses. However, the vast majority of Maine homes use oil as heating fuel. Recent increases in oil prices have led to greater interest in alternative heating fuels in Maine. This has inspired technological improvements in wood-burning appliances.

Graph of home heating fuels in Maine 2011Source: US Census Bureau, American FactFinder

Insurance companies are often slow to adapt to new technologies and changing behaviors. This is prudent, since they rely on empirical data and the law of large numbers to manage risk. Their risk is much greater in the early years of adoption.

Maine homeowners insurance companies have carefully accepted homes heated by wood, provided:

  • The wood or pellet stove or boiler is a secondary heat source.
  • The primary heat source is controlled by a thermostat.
  • The stove is UL approved and installed in accordance with fire codes.
  • The insured follows woodstove safety tips.

In 2012, one of the insurance companies we represent, announced that they would insure homes, farms and businesses with certain wood and pellet stoves and boilers as the primary source of heat. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Homes using pellet or wood stoves must have a thermostatically controlled backup heat source, such as oil, propane or electric.

In addition to the traditional requirements listed above, some insurers require the make and model of the wood stove or boiler, and require the appliance to be:

  • Professionally Installed;
  • Self igniting and thermostatically controlled;
  • Fed automatically by auger or gravity from a bulk storage hopper or silo (pellet fuel only);
  • Protected by a sprinkler head above the unit, if required by code.

For more information about insuring your Maine home or business, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Our Trusted Choice independent Maine insurance agency represents many insurance companies.

 

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.