Hiring an independent contractor a great way to expand your company’s products and services without adding overhead. The right sub can make you look good.
Subcontractor or Employee?
By Maine law, a worker is an employee unless they meet tests to be an independent contractor. That makes them subject to employment tax and workers compensation. If your Maine business hires independents, here’s what you need to do.
Get Documentation from Subcontractors
Workers compensation charges sub costs as payroll unless you have proof of subcontractor status. That can be a very expensive surprise. And the bill is due in lump sum.
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.
Maine home owners have a lot to worry about. Homeowners insurance can help with some of the big ones. Most homeowners policies cover fire, wind damage, and water damage from plumbing leaks.
Other big expenses aren’t covered by basic homeowners insurance. Off-the-shelf policies exclude flooding, foundation leaks, and breakdown of systems and appliances. But many home insurers now offer a homeowners Equipment Breakdown Endorsement.
What Does the Mechanical Breakdown Endorsement Cover?
Your insurance company’s form may differ. But most cover the cost to repair or replace items hit by mechanical or electrical failure. Think heating systems, solar panels, appliances, electronics, IOT smart devices and more.
Your expensive dishwasher breaks down when the motor burns out.
A central air conditioner compressor fails.
The boiler or water heater break.
Your smart home monitoring system stops working.
The solar panels on your roof stop generating electricity.
What’s the Coverage Limit on Homeowners Equipment Breakdown?
Insurance company forms can differ, but many have a $100,000 limit. That’s enough to cover almost any system in American homes.
Does a Deductible Apply to Equipment Breakdown?
Yes. Usually it’s different than your regular homeowners policy deductible. $500 is a common deductible on homeowners Equipment Breakdown Endorsements.
What’s Not Covered by Equipment Breakdown?
Wear & tear and gradual deterioration are never covered. Everything eventually fails. Don’t expect insurance to pay for items past their useful life.
For example, if your 30-year old air conditioning compressor dies. the insurance company will likely deny your claim.
Other exclusions apply to all homeowners policies. Examples include intentional damage; flood; or seepage through a foundation.
Homeowners Equipment Breakdown Coverage vs. Home Warranty
Many home buyers buy a home warranty when they invest in a home. Home warranties help guard against big expenses in the first few years of ownership. They pay the cost of repairing or replacing major appliances or equipment.
Unlike Equipment Breakdown insurance, home warranties usually pay even for wear & tear. That’s why home warranty coverage is much more expensive than equipment breakdown coverage.
Equipment breakdown often costs less than $50 a year. Home warranties can cost $50 or more per month.
Why to Buy Homeowners Equipment Breakdown Coverage – or Not
You might purchase breakdown coverage on your homeowners if:
Your home or most of its equipment is newer.
The coverage is inexpensive.
It’s included in some bundle of other extra coverage that you want or need.
You might NOT purchase homeowners Equipment Breakdown coverage if:
You already purchased a home warranty
Your home’s equipment is older and you’re worried about breakdown due to wear & tear.
Do you own a home or condo in the Portland, Maine area? Have questions about equipment breakdown? Worried about big expenses from property damage? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s top property insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.
Will home insurance cover the cost to remove the smell? It depends on whether you bought “off the shelf” coverage or upgraded. It also depends whether your insurance company uses the latest edition of the coverage form (spoiler alert: in this case, the latest is NOT the best).
Skunk Spray Damage Coverage in Basic Homeowners Policies
The most common home insurance form is the ISO HO 00 03. Many Maine insurance companies use it. It’s tried and tested over decades. Insurance people call it “HO-3”.
Insurance Services Office (ISO) updates the form periodically. Each insurer decides which edition to use. In Maine, some insurers still use the 1991 version. Many use the 2000 edition. A few have adopted the 2011 edition.
Before the 2011 edition, “off the shelf” HO-3 policies covered skunk spray damage to buildings. Damage to contents was not covered by the basic policy.
The 2011 edition excludes “discharge or release of secretions by any animals”. Even building damage is no longer covered for skunk spray in the 2011 form.
Which Homeowners Policy Edition do You Have?
Your insurance policy should list coverage forms. The first two letters are the coverage type – “HO” for homeowners. The next four digits are the form number. Basic homeowners are 00 03. Condo policies are 00 06. Renters policies are 00 04. The final four digits are the month and year of the edition. For example, HO 00 03 05 11 is the 2011 edition of the basic homeowners policy.
Can You Buy Extra Insurance for Skunk Damage?
We recommend “open perils” coverage for contents. That covers skunk spray damage on the pre-2011 forms. Ask your agent if you’re eligible for that.
Unfortunately, we know of no way to add skunk spray coverage to the 2011 edition of the policy. The exclusion in the 2011 form denies coverage for skunk spray to both building or contents. You can’t buy it back. That stinks (sorry, we couldn’t help it).
What if a Skunk Sprayed My Vehicle?
You may have purchased “other than collision” coverage on your auto insurance policy. Some people call this “comprehensive” coverage. Most common auto insurance policies in Maine cover damage by animals. That includes skunk spray. So, if a skunk gets into your car and sprays, you probably have coverage. As long as you purchased “other than collision” coverage.
Check your property insurance policy’s coverage form and edition date
Ask your agent if you have “open perils” coverage. If not, get a quote to add it if you’re eligible.
If you’re on the 2011 homeowners form, ask your agent for a quote with a company that uses one of the older editions.
Do you live in the Portland Maine area? Have questions about home, condo, renters or auto insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. One of them is likely a good fit for you.
Many home owners in Maine transfer some of their property to a living or family trust. Trusts can be a useful estate planning tool. Once they were used only by the wealthy. Today, people of all financial means place property in trusts.
Trusts are legal documents. Your attorney can explain if a trust is a good solution for you. They can also help you establish a trust.
Insuring Property in a Trust
How can you insure real estate owned by a trust? It depends on the use of the property. Is it your primary home? A vacation home? Does someone who’s not a trustee live in the home? Is the property owned by a family trust, and used by several relatives?
Each insurer has different requirements for trust-owned property. An experienced insurance agent can help you find the right insurance solution. Independent insurance agents offer a choice of several insurance companies.
Some insurance companies use special policy endorsements for trusts. Others simply add trusts as an “additional insured” on the policy.
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.
Commercial insurance protects a company or business owner from losses to buildings or equipment necessary for the operations. However, many Maine businesses rely on portable equipment to operate. So, does commercial coverage offer protection for essential portable equipment when it’s off the premises?
Coverage for Portable Equipment
Commercial insurance covers equipment, inventory and supplies located on the premises of the covered location. However, this may not extend to things that leave the premises. If you bring property to job sites or customer locations, portable equipment insurance may be necessary to prevent gaps and losses.
Portable equipment coverage is sometimes called an Inland Marine Floater. This coverage will protect electronic equipment and other contractor related items required to perform daily work-related tasks. Before selecting additional insurance, speak with an agent about current and future needs, and find out what options are currently available to get a complete layer of protection.
Protect Your Equipment on Job Sites
Considering a purchase of portable equipment for your business? Talk to an agent from an insurance company who can outline what steps are necessary to get comprehensive coverage. Although some protection may be offered by standard commercial insurance, navigating portable insurance coverage may be necessary.
If your business is located in Southern Maine, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer straightforward solutions from some of Maine’s top business insurance companies. That allows you to choose insurance that matches your business needs and provide you with peace of mind.
Getting the right combination of insurance to cover a business can be tricky. Don’t risk gaps and issues that could spell disaster. Consult with an agent from Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance to get the coverage necessary to protect a business in Portland, ME and throughout the state.
When a crash or disaster seriously damages your vehicle, it’s stressful and confusing. If the damage is bad enough, an insurance company might declare your vehicle a total loss. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often to most of us. What does it really mean when your vehicle is totaled?
What Does it Mean When a Vehicle is Totaled?
A vehicle is a total loss when the cost to repair it exceeds a percentage of its value. The calculation method and ratio vary state to state. Some states use a flat percentage of the vehicle’s value as a threshold. Other states add the salvage or scrap value of the vehicle. That’s called the formula method. In general, it’s easier to total a vehicle using the formula method. That’s because the salvage value is added to the value of the vehicle before calculating the percentage.
Maine uses the formula method. Maine law considers a vehicle a total loss if the damage plus the scrap value exceeds 75% of the value.
Vehicle’s pre-loss Value
Repair + Salvage
My Car’s Worth More than the Repair Estimate. Why is it Totaled?
When an insurance company totals your car instead of paying the repair cost, they sell the salvage. The scrap value is considered part of the value of your vehicle. If it’s cheaper for the insurance company to pay you the value of your car and recover the salvage, they will. If it’s cheaper for them to repair your vehicle, they will do that.
In Maine, if the cost to repair plus the scrap value exceeds 75% of your vehicle’s value, the insurance company can total it.
Why 75%? Insurance companies know there’s often hidden damage after a serious loss. When the repair shop removes outer damaged parts, more damage is revealed. That increases the repair cost from their original estimate. So, insurance companies use 75% to provide a safety factor. That way, they’re not paying more to fix your vehicle than it’s worth.
Why Nicer Cars Are Easier to Total
High end cars cost more to fix. Their salvage value is also higher. So, the nicer your vehicle, the easier it is to reach the 75% threshold. A newer vehicle with a lot of cosmetic damage (e.g. hail) may have no mechanical issue and still be totaled. That’s because many expensive mechanical parts are still good, increasing the scrap value.
What Happens When My Vehicle is Totaled in Maine?
If your Maine vehicle is totaled, you essentially sell it to the insurance company. They pay you the pre-damage fair market value of the vehicle. You sign the title over to the insurance company. They keep the salvage value after selling it. Usually, it’s sold at auction.
Can You Keep Your Vehicle in Maine After It’s Totaled?
You can buy your unrepaired vehicle back from the insurance company for its salvage value. You still sell the vehicle to the insurance company by signing over the title. They pay you the pre-damage value of your vehicle, minus the salvage value. They sell you a Maine salvaged title for the salvage value.
Can I Drive a Vehicle With a Maine Salvaged Title?
No. Once there’s a salvage title, all of the work on the repair estimate MUST be done before you can drive the vehicle. You and the repair garage must complete and submit Form MVT-103 to Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
When the State of Maine approves your vehicle repairs, it issues a rebuilt title. A rebuilt titled vehicle is worth less than one with a regular title.
Many insurance companies will not offer comprehensive or collision coverage for a vehicle with a rebuilt title. That’s because it can be difficult to assess the fair value of the vehicle.
The Insurance Company Wants to Total My Vehicle. Do I Have to Accept That?
You have the right to get your own repair estimate and choose your own body shop. Can you find one that will repair your vehicle for less than the threshold? Your insurance company might agree and pay the repair cost. Remember: in Maine, the 75% threshold includes the scrap value of your vehicle.
Once an insurance company totals your vehicle, you have a salvage title. You must repair the vehicle to drive it.
What if the damage is mostly cosmetic, and the car drives fine? You have the option to withdraw your claim and avoid a salvage title.
An Example of Withdrawing a Claim
Assume that a hailstorm pounds your vehicle. Dozens of dents on the hood, roof and trunk; a broken windshield. But the vehicle drives fine, and the dents don’t bother you. You could withdraw your insurance claim and pay to repair your windshield “out of pocket”. Although your vehicle may not look great, you might be able to drive it for many more years.
What if you withdraw your claim and don’t repair the body damage? Your insurance company will probably remove comprehensive and collision coverage. That’s because they wouldn’t pay for future damage; they already consider it totaled. Makes sense.
If you switch insurance companies, it’s important to declare the prior damage to them. The new insurance company will likely exclude comprehensive and collision coverage, too.
Questions About Maine Auto Insurance?
Do you live in Southern Maine and have questions about your auto insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred auto insurance companies.
A couple of years ago, my mother in law gave me her 2006 Toyota Camry. Barely 6 months later, the car met its demise. Totaled by a motorcycle. The man who hit me head-on was lucky enough to walk away with his life. His bike, and my Camry: both totaled.
Even though I work in insurance every day, I learned a lot about car insurance from my auto accident .
Think twice before dropping collision coverage As your vehicle gets older, it’s tempting to drop collision coverage to save money. I figured that if the Camry was ever totaled, I would probably just get another new vehicle instead of paying the deductible to “fix” it.
But keeping the collision on my older vehicle was one of my best decisions. Without collision coverage, I would have waited months for the motorcycle owner’s insurance to pay the claim. I submitted the collision claim to my insurance company. Two days later, I had the money for a new car in my bank account. This allowed me to immediately go out and shop for a car with a large down payment.
Don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. The night of the accident I was filled with adrenaline. I was in hysterics. I did after all just collide with a man on a motorcycle. I couldn’t comprehend at that time that he had run into me. I thought I had run into him.
I told the police, paramedics and firefighters that I was ok. I refused an ambulance. The next morning, I woke in severe pain. I could barely turn my head from side to side. I had to have physical therapy for weeks and was out of work for a few days due to a concussion.
Get checked out after a motor vehicle accident. You never know what may be going on with your body!
Rental vehicle coverage is a lifesaver After the accident, I had no car. My husband still had to go to work. I still had to go about my regular life. Being without a car for even two days was life changing!
Some insurance companies quote $20 a day rental coverage. Maybe they think the lower price increases the likelihood of a sale. Some even quote no rental coverage at all! Be careful. If you drive an SUV or large truck you might only be able to afford to rent a sub-compact. That too, my friends, will be life changing.
Be careful who you let drive your vehicles The man who hit me was not driving his own motorcycle. Yes, the accident will be on the driver’s Motor Vehicle Report. But the claim was paid out by his friend’s insurance company. You can imagine what a large accident involving injuries and two totaled vehicles did to his insurance rates.
We are lucky that Maine requires auto insurance Vehicle owners are required to show proof of insurance to register a vehicle. This means that almost all vehicles on the road are insured. Of course there are a few out there that sneak around without it.
What would have happened if the driver didn’t have any insurance? My Maine auto insurance includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Yours does, too. This helps cover you when another driver doesn’t have insurance and causes an accident. We live very close to the New Hampshire border where they don’t need to carry insurance! Scary! If an uninsured driver hits you, your UM coverage will pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
What to Do After an Accident
Here are some things you can do to help yourself, your claim adjuster and your insurance agent. If you can’t do these, don’t worry about it. The most important thing is to stay safe and healthy.
Take photos of the damage if you can. The night of my accident became a blur. I couldn’t take photos, but because the police were involved, they took many photos.
Get as much information as possible at the scene. Ask for the other driver’s name, address, phone number and insurance information. If police respond, get the officer’s name and the police report number. These are all helpful for your insurance company. If you can’t get all this information, don’t stress about it. Your agent can still help.
Calm down before driving away. Being in an accident, even a small fender bender can really shake up your nerves. If you need to park your car and get a ride from someone else, do it.
It’s OK to get damage appraised before deciding whether to make a claim. Just don’t get it fixed first! One exception: immediately report an accident in which someone is injured. Do not delay.
It is never too late to call in a claim. Did you hit a pothole that was much deeper than you thought? Did you notice the damage to the side panel a week later? That’s ok, you can still call it in. Your independent agent can help you decide whether you want to make a claim.
WARNING: did you buy your policy from a company agent (who works for only one insurer)? Or from an insurer’s web site or 800 number? When you call those companies, you’re speaking directly to the insurer. As soon as you mention an accident, they make a claim record on your policy. Even if you’re only looking for advice. Even if you decide not to make a claim, it’s on your record. That can increase the price you pay for insurance in the future – even if that insurer never pays a dime. That’s a good reason to work with an independent insurance agent.
Have Questions About Maine Auto Insurance?
Live in Southern Maine? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We write policies for multiple insurance companies but represent you. That means we can give you advice that’s best for you, not the insurance company. It also means that we offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies.
Looking for Maine auto insurance quotes, but not ready to talk to an agent just yet? You can compare Maine car insurance quotes from as many as 5 insurance companies in 10 minutes on our web site.
Even the most committed Portland Maine “buy local” fans occasionally buy online. The holiday season will soon be in full swing. That means more shopping, and more opportunity to be a crime victim. Porch pirates are a problem even in Maine, especially during gift-giving season. Maine’s long winter nights provide more of the darkness that thieves love.
Don’t let your joy from the “truck of happiness” turn into the frustration of a box stolen from your porch. Here are some ways to protect your valuable purchases.
Sign up for Tracking Alerts
Most online retailers offer shipment notifications via text, email or smart speaker. Many notify you the very minute your package arrives. Expecting a valuable shipment? Arrange for a trusted friend or neighbor to retrieve and hold it in a safe place until you get home.
Choose an Occupied Delivery Address
Thieves are more likely to target empty or dark homes. Have orders shipped to your work, or the home of a friend or relative who’ll be there to get it. Some online sellers have secure locker facilities or pickup locations. Others allow for pickup at the post office or other shipping store.
Install Smart Home Security
There are so many smart home camera, microphone and monitoring solutions now. Doorbell cameras; motion sensing lights and monitors; whole house security systems. The choices seem limitless. Many allow you to control and watch from a mobile phone or computer. Any option you choose is better than no security at all to reduce your theft risk.
If You are a Porch Pirate Victim
Notify the police. They may be aware of theft rings in your area. Even if they can’t recover your stolen goods, they can alert your neighbors and save them from the trouble.
Notify the seller or credit card company. Some online retailers or credit card plans may provide a refund or replace your stolen item.
Call your insurance agent. Home, condo and renters insurance usually cover theft. If your loss was greater than your deductible (often $1000), notify your agent.
Answers to Your Maine Home Condo and Renters Insurance Questions