Natural disasters are on the rise, putting business owners at risk of suffering damage or loss of business property. A big disaster can literally put you out of business.
If you own a business in Maine, your customers and employees depend on you to prepare for the worst. Commercial insurance from Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance is one way to protect your business from disaster damage. Here are a few other ways to prep your small business for natural disasters.
Employee Disaster Readiness
Develop a plan for your employees, so they will know what to do in the event of a disaster.
Make sure that employees know who to contact and how to reach key personnel when needed.
Create an evacuation plan that employees can easily follow if they have to escape in a hurry.
Update new employees on disaster readiness so everyone is well-informed on what’s expected of them if disaster strikes.
Communicating with Clients after a Disaster
If your customers can’t reach you after a disaster, they may find someone else who can help. Don’t jeopardize your business. Have a plan to continue your operations, and let your customers know where to find you.
Have a plan in place to communicate with key clients after a disaster.
If your building is severely damaged, you may need to open a temporary location to continue operations. Thinking about possible options before disaster strikes can save valuable time following a disaster.
Protecting Essential Data after a Disaster
Make sure your primary data is backed up digitally to prevent loss in a disaster. This includes financial records, employee and customer information, and any other critical data you need to keep your business running. Cloud backup is the safest, most secure means of protecting essential data from natural disasters.
Commercial Insurance Coverage
Purchase adequate commercial insurance for your building, business equipment, and inventory. Just as important, be sure you have business interruption coverage. Many businesses have enough insurance to replace what they lose, but not enough to recover lost earnings. This can cause your business to fail.
Maine Business Insurance
For information on commercial insurance coverage and costs, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland, ME. We offer a choice of Maine’s top business insurance companies. We can help you find the right fit for your business. We’re independent and committed to you.
Ahh, a stormy night at home. Nowhere to be. You’re on the
couch with a nice cup of tea, wrapped in your favorite blanket, about to watch
your favorite movie.
What’s that? Did the lights flick—oh no! Power outage!
Silence. The dog growls in the sudden darkness. The cat
springs from his favorite spot on the back of the couch, causing you to spill
your hot tea everywhere. Complete chaos! How long will the power be out? What
will go wrong before the lights come back on?
The Ultimate Defense: Generators
If you have an automatic generator, nothing changes. Critical heating and cooling systems and lights stay on. You continue to sip your tea, pet your cat and watch your favorite movie (some insurers offer a homeowners discount for automatic generators – ask your agent).
If you have a portable generator, it takes a few
minutes to hook it up. Then you can power your most important appliances and
lights. You may now carry on with your night.
Tips for portable generator owners:
Save instructions for properly setting up your generator. Don’t rely on your memory to do it safely.
Power outages can be unpredictable, and you never know how
long your power may be out. Always be prepared.
Prune trees back from your house. Even healthy tree limbs can succumb to wind or ice storms. Reduce the risk of damage or loss of electricity. Remove limbs that overhang your home, fences or driveway.
Keep your chimney clean. People who rarely use their fireplaces or wood stoves often postpone chimney cleaning. During ice storms, we’ve seen house fires caused by dirty chimneys.
Always have plenty of fuel for your generator and any outdoor cooking appliances.
If you have an electric sump pump, consider installing a gravity activated backup.
Create an emergency blackout kit. Store it somewhere accessible. It won’t be helpful in the back of a closet, or out in the shed.
Emergency Blackout Kit Essentials:
Basic first-aid supplies
Flashlights (avoid using candles)
Emergency numbers & contacts (incase your cell battery dies)
Backup supplies for your children and pets: diapers, food, etc.?
Canned food is always good to keep on hand in case you can’t get to a store.
Preparing for a Regional Emergency
After a big storm or other regional emergency, power may be out for several days. Are you prepared?
When a Big Storm is Forecast
Freeze containers of water to help keep refrigerated food cold.
If your water comes from a well, fill your bathtub with water. This will allow you to flush toilets, etc.
If you rely on an electric sump pump to keep your basement dry, lift items off the floor.
When the Power Goes Out
Leave the refrigerator and freezer closed. A Full freezer will hold food safely for up to 48 hours. A refrigerator will keep food cold up to 4 hours. After that, in cold weather, store food outdoors, in coolers.
Turn off electric appliances that were on at the time. This can help avoid a power surge when the electricity comes back on.
In winter, open kitchen cabinets to allow the warmer air in the house to reach your water pipes. Pipes are often against cold outside walls. Those walls are even colder when the house has no heat or hot water running through the pipes.
If you don’t have a fireplace or wood stove, go elsewhere if the temperature drops too low. NEVER use a gas cook stove or oven to heat your home.
Use gas or charcoal grills or camping stoves outside – never indoors.
When driving, treat an inoperable traffic light like a four way stop.
When the Power Comes Back On
Check cooking equipment and other appliances to make sure
Unsure if your food is still good? Toss it! Better to be safe than sorry. Make a list of the items you discard. Some homeowners insurance policies cover spoilage of refrigerated food. Contact your insurance agent to see if your policy does.
Answers to Your Insurance Questions
Do you live in Southern Maine? Have questions about insurance for frozen pipes or food spoilage? Concerned about water backing up into your basement? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.
We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred home, condo and renters insurance companies. We can help you find the best insurance value and answer your questions.
Today’s forecast calls for winds up to 60 mph. Forecasters tell us to expect power outages and downed trees and limbs. It’s a day many homeowners and business owners will discover that their insurance policy has a wind deductible.
Windstorm insurance deductibles have been common in the Southern US for years. In Maine, they’re more commonly found on insurance policies for coastal or island properties.
Not every insurance policy in Maine has a separate wind deductible. If your policy doesn’t list one, then your regular property deductible applies to wind damage.
“Percentage Deductibles” vs. Flat Deductibles
Most homeowners and business property policies have a flat deductible that applies to all causes of loss. These are fixed dollar deductibles, for example $1,000. Whether you have a break-in, fire or water damage, your property insurance deductible is $1,000.
Most wind deductibles are “percentage deductibles”. The deductible is a percentage of the insurance amount, NOT the actual loss. For example, if your home is insured for $500,000 and has a 1% windstorm deductible, a $5,000 deductible applies to wind damage, and your flat deductible applies to other causes of loss.
Common Types of Windstorm Damage in Maine
Wind blows a tree onto property, damaging it.
Wind damages roof shingles or siding.
Wind-driven rain lifts shingles and siding, allowing water into the building.
Three Types of Windstorm Insurance Deductibles in Maine
“Named Storm” deductibles
Hurricane Insurance Deductible
A hurricane deductible only applies if your wind damage was caused by an actual hurricane. If your property is damaged by wind during any other kind of storm, the deductible doesn’t apply. Insurance policies define when a hurricane deductible applies. Usually it’s during the time and place that a hurricane watch or warning is in effect.
“Named Storm” Insurance Deductible
“Named storms” include tropical storms and depressions, as well as hurricanes. These occur more frequently, so “named storm” insurance deductibles are more likely to be applied. A homeowner would rather have a hurricane deductible.
Historically, “named storms” were limited to tropical cyclones. But in recent years, the National Weather Service has begun naming winter storms. Does wind damage that occurs in one of these named winter storms cause the “named storm deductible” to apply? That’s unclear. In our South Portland Maine insurance agency, we haven’t heard of an insurance company invoking that. But, it could happen.
Wind Damage Insurance Deductible
Wind deductibles apply to all kinds of wind damage, including those caused by hurricanes, named storms, or other wind. Even moderate winds can cause damage to property. A homeowner or business owner would prefer a hurricane deductible or a named storm deductible to a wind deductible. That’s because windy days happen much more frequently than hurricanes.
Which Insurance Companies Use Wind Deductibles?
Some use only hurricane deductibles. Others use Named Storm deductibles. Still more use wind deductibles. And some don’t use wind deductibles at all.
Each insurance company has its own guidelines. Some large national insurers use a wind deductible for any property within 1 or 2 miles of the coast. That’s a lot of homes in Maine. Many use special deductibles for properties within 1000′ of the coast.
The geography of Maine’s coast varies greatly. South of Portland, much of the coast is low-lying beaches open to the Atlantic. This allows ocean windstorms to affect properties farther from the shore. North of Portland, the coast is more rocky and rugged. Many elevated peninsulas create leeward inlets and protected harbors.
Some insurance companies that understand Maine underwrite these coastal areas differently. They may require a special deductible for properties more exposed to wind, and not for others.
Does Your Insurance Policy Have a Windstorm Deductible?
If your policy has a separate windstorm deductible, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred home and business insurance companies. Depending on the location of your home, we may find an insurer willing to insure your property with a flat deductible. This could save you thousands of dollars in case of windstorm damage.
Insurance companies pool risk. They collect money from many people to pay the losses of a few who have claims. Everyone’s rates go up or down, depending on the insurance company’s experience. More claims paid = higher rates.
You may be wondering:
How much do hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters affect insurance rates?
Do disasters in other states affect my insurance rates in Maine?
It’s helpful to understand how insurance companies price their product. Insurance rates are recommended by insurance company actuaries. They project how much money the insurance company must collect to pay claims and make a profit. This requires complex modeling and formulas. Actuaries recommend rate changes to a special committee of company executives. The committee compares the actuary’s recommendation to the company’s profitability and growth targets. They agree on a proposed rate change, and submit it to Maine insurance regulators.
The regulator’s job is to make sure that insurance rates are:
Adequate to pay claims
Not unfairly discriminatory.
Regulators may approve or deny the rate change, or ask for more information.
What Factors Affect Insurance Rates?
At its simplest, insurance is “money in…money out.”
Money In = Premium Collected
Cheap insurance rates may leave the insurance company with insufficient money to pay claims and make a profit. Rates that are too high may send customers fleeing to other insurers.
Money Out = Losses
The most important determinant of insurance rates. More losses than expected puts pressure for the insurance company to raise rates. Fewer losses puts downward pressure on rates.
But here’s the rest of the story:
Insurance Company Financial Strength – Well-managed insurance companies keep adequate reserves to pay claims on a rainy day. Insurers with strong financials can weather a bad year without huge rate increases. Weaker ones need more frequent rate adjustments. The best way to learn the financial condition of an insurance company? A.M. Best tests the financial strength of insurers and assigns them a letter grade.
Type of Insurance Company – Mutual insurance companies are owned by their customers. After they pay claims, mutuals store their profits to pay future claims. Other insurance companies are stockholder owned. Stockholders expect a return on their investment. Investors pressure executives of publicly held companies to improve profits every quarter. This can lead to larger or more frequent rate increases to stay ahead of current losses.
Reinsurance – Almost every insurance company is also an insurance consumer. They buy insurance against “the big one”. This is called reinsurance. Most companies reinsure against annual total losses exceeding a certain amount. This dampens the impact of multiple hurricanes, fires or other disasters in one year.
Generally, larger insurers buy less reinsurance than smaller ones. Smaller insurers have less surplus, and thus are more vulnerable to catastrophic losses.
Of course, reinsurers are also insurance companies. They must collect more premium if they suffer unexpectedly large claims. Insurance companies pay different reinsurance rates based on their individual loss experience.
Do Disasters in Other States Affect My Insurance Rates?
Probably not as much as you think. Maine insurance regulators only allow insurers to file rates based upon Maine premium and losses. Claims that a company pays in California or Florida are not baked into Maine insurance rates.
Insurance companies factor nationwide overhead costs into Maine rates. Cost like advertising, salaries – and reinsurance. Since events outside Maine influence reinsurance costs, they influence Maine customers’ rates. Just less than you might expect.
Maine’s property crime rate is a fraction of most states. We’re very fortunate to live in such a safe area. Even Portland, Maine’s largest city, has a property crime rate only slightly above the national average, and far below most U.S. cities. Sadly, crime still does happen in Maine. Many of our clients choose to protect their property by installing a burglar and fire alarm. Some include low temperature alarms, water flow alarms and other protective systems.
How Much Will an Alarm System Save on Home Insurance?
Let’s put it this way: you would never purchase an alarm system for the insurance discount. You purchase it for peace of mind and to protect your valuable property. But, if you’re going to install an alarm, you might as well get the home insurance discounts you deserve, right?
Which is the Best Alarm System for Insurance Discounts?
This list is ranked roughly from the smallest discount to the largest. Savings are based upon the average Maine homeowners insurance premium of $800 per year.
Smoke Detectors – $16
Working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are the absolute minimum that every home, condo or apartment should have. Smoke alarms save lives. They also save money on home insurance – although very little. There is usually no discount for carbon monoxide detectors. The discount isn’t usually affected by whether your detectors are hard-wired or battery operated, nor how many there are in your home.
Local Burglar Alarm – $16
If you have a bell or siren on the outside of your home that’s connected to an intrusion detection system, most insurance companies will give you a small discount.
Freeze Alarm with Auto-Dialer – $24
This alarm alerts you when temperatures drop below a certain minimum. These are becoming more common with “smart home” systems, and “the internet of things”. There’s no human intervention or monitoring system; the effectiveness depends upon the person answering the phone call and actually doing something about the problem.
Central Station Fire Alarm – $40
This type of alarm is hard-wired and calls a service that’s monitored 24 X 7. If the alarm goes off, the service notifies the fire department. This is considered by most insurers to be a “top shelf” protection plan.
Freeze Alarm with Central Station – $40
This is like a hybrid between the auto-dialer freeze alarm and the central station fire alarm. In a low-temperature event, the monitored service is notified and contacts your heating contractor for emergency service.
Water Flow Alarm with Central Station or Auto-Shutoff – $40
Some of the most expensive winter claims are caused by water running for an extended time. Water damage is also a lot more common than theft or fire. Whether caused by a broken pipe, freeze-up, or a washing machine hose that lets go, water damage and cleanup can be extremely costly. If water stands for an extended time (like when you’re on vacation, or someplace warm in the winter), mold can develop. It’s no wonder that insurance companies reward people who install protective devices to minimize the chance of this type of damage.
Central Station Burglar Alarm – $40
This is like the central station fire alarm, except for burglary. If someone breaks into your home, the monitoring service contacts the police department. Note that the central station alarm credits are additive. If you have a burglary, fire, water flow and low-temperature central station system, your discount might be $160 per year.
Hard-Wired Emergency Generator – $40
Many Mainers purchased generators after Ice Storm ’98, when many towns were without electricity for days. Some insurers offer discounts for permanently installed hard-wired generators. These devices “kick on” automatically when power is interrupted, and require no human intervention. They power the most essential electrical services of a home, including the furnace or boiler, well pump and kitchen appliances. Obviously, maintaining heat during a winter storm can help avoid a costly freeze-up. Certain insurers reward that by providing a discount.
What’s the Best Insurance Company for My Maine Home?
The answer depends upon the unique features of your home: its location, construction, protective systems and more. It also depends upon your family. Do you have pets? A swimming pool? Are you near the coast? As an Independent Agent, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance offers a choice of several preferred Maine homeowners, condo and renters insurance companies. We can help you find the best match. And, if your needs change, or the insurance company does, we can help you find another – without having to switch agents. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, and find out why we say we’re “Independent and Committed to You”.
Small enough to navigate and make friends easily. Large enough to have plenty of live music, arts and sports. Hundreds of restaurants and almost 20 breweries, Portland Maine is one of America’s hottest little cities. It’s a regular on “best of” lists from publications as diverse as Men’s Journal, Elle Home Decor , Conde Nast Traveler and Time Money. But what’s it REALLY like to live in Maine’s largest city?
What’s it Like to Live in Portland Maine?
It’s easy to fall in love with Portland by walking its charming brick streets, eating fresh seafood, and drinking even fresher beer. You can find plenty of flattering and glowing reviews of Portland from locals and travelers alike. But what’s it like to really LIVE here?
Like most cities, Portland is a city of neighborhoods. Each has its own quirky vibe. This cheeky map by a local resident gives you a light-hearted taste of the personality and characteristics of each:
Do I Need a Car in Portland Maine?
Unless you live and work on the downtown peninsula, and can walk 1-2 miles with your groceries, you’ll probably need a car. Like most vibrant cities, parking spots can be scarce. Fortunately, it’s easy to walk anywhere on the peninsula.
The Metro bus is Portland Maine’s public transportation. If you’re from a bigger city, you’ll find that buses arrive less frequently than you’re used to. UHaul car-share service has about 8 vehicles on the peninsula. Uber and Lyft operate in Portland, and there are several taxi companies. Our airport (PWM) and Transportation Center are both very close to the city (see “Transportlandia” on the map above). The Amtrak Downeaster and Concord Trailways bus both loop to Boston several times daily. Concord also has a bus to New York City.
Portland is cheaper than Boston or New York, but it’s still a landlord’s market. Like many popular cities, Portland has had a very low vacancy rate and a shortage of good apartments. But about 1000 new rental and condo units have been built or planned to meet the demand. Here’s a “heat map” of Portland Maine rents in October 2015:
The Portland Press Herald recently produced a very cool series of interactive maps of Portland Maine in 2015, showing rents, demographics and lifestyle features of Portland neighborhoods.
Looking for short-term rental between October and May? You might score an off-season cottage rental on one of Scarborough’s beaches or a nearby Casco Bay island (serviced by Casco Bay Lines). Off-season rentals can be a bargain – probably the cheapest you’ll ever pay to live close to the ocean.
Whether you rent an apartment or a cottage, we recommend that you buy Maine renters insurance to protect your property from damage and theft, and you from liability.
Portland’s home and condo market is strong. This reflects the desirability of the area and availability of jobs in Portland. The area has a wide range of housing stock, from old to new, townhouses to ranches, contemporaries to lofts. The median sale price in the Portland market in 2016 was $262,000 ($193 per square foot) for homes, and $269,550 ($280/SF) for condos, according to MREIS. Average prices for each were about $40,000 higher, due to the high price of some prime properties. Median pricing increased 7.3% from 2015.
Where Do I Park My Car in Portland?
As in most vibrant cities, parking is a premium commodity in Portland Maine. If your apartment doesn’t offer off-street parking, get a free residential parking sticker for the area in which you live. This exempts you from 1-or-2-hour time zones on streets near your home. The stickers DON’T exempt you from parking meters, no parking zones, overnight parking, loading zones, etc.
The most hassle-free way to get to local businesses & restaurants is on foot or bike. If you must drive, the city of Portland Maine operates parking meters and pay and display parking stations . Hot tip: Portland Maine metered street parking is free after 6pm and on Sundays.
Portland has several public and private parking garages ($2.00 – $4.00 per hour). There are also private pay-and-display lots, which are NOT operated by the city. These have been controversial, as they will boot your vehicle if you leave your vehicle too long.
Parking Bans in Portland Maine
During winter storms, the city of Portland Maine parking bans to allow public works crews to clear the streets and remove snow. During a Red Parking Ban, no one can park on city streets. This means you! Don’tignore the ban; your vehicle WILL be towed, and it’s an expensive hassle to retrieve it.Here’s a list of where to park during a snow ban.
How Soon Do I Need to Register My Car After Moving to Maine?
You should re-register your car in Maine and get a Maine driver’s license within 30 days after moving here. Here’s are the 3 steps to register your vehicle in Maine after you move here:
It’s easy to find arts, sports and cultural events in Portland Maine. Another great way to meet new people is to get out and enjoy the outdoors, learn more about our area, or to volunteer. Here are links to some of our favorites:
We hope you find this information useful as you think about moving to Portland Maine. Greater Portland has been our home for more than 80 years. We love it here. If we can help with insurance in your new city, please contact a friendly local Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541.
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?
If 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.
If a tree falls in your yard, and no one hears it, is it covered by your insurance? What about the cost to remove a fallen tree? The answer, as it is with all insurance questions, is “it depends”. Policy forms vary.
This post assumes that you have an “HO-3” Maine homeowners insurance policy using forms from the Insurance Services Office (ISO). This is the most common type of homeowners policy in Maine.
Did a Tree Hit Your Home or Other Structure?
If so, you probably have coverage for:
The cost to remove the tree
The damage to your home, fence or other structure
But, not coverage of the cost to replace the tree itself.
Is a Fallen Tree Blocking Your Driveway?
Depending on the edition of your home insurance policy in Maine, you may have coverage for at least some of the cost to remove a tree that’s blocking your driveway. Even if it didn’t damage any of your property, the 2000 edition of the HO-3 policy provides $1000 of coverage ($500 max per tree). Older forms have no coverage unless the tree hits a covered structure.
Did a Tree Fall on Your Car?
If so, your auto policy, not your homeowners policy, might pay to fix your car. Hopefully, you have Maine auto insurance, and chose to buy “other than collision” (widely known as “comprehensive”) coverage. The cost to remove the tree is not covered by either home or auto insurance, unless the tree blocks your driveway (see above).
If There’s No Damage, There May Be No Coverage
If a tree falls without damaging any insured structures or blocking the driveway, you will likely need to pay the costs to remove it. Some insurance policies provide a limited amount of coverage for these cases. Check with your agent or insurance company to see if yours does.
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.
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.