Watch for Scams after a Storm

Posted on June 3rd, 2011 in Homeowners Insurance, Personal Insurance | No Comments »

When storms hit, your home—and life—can be turned upside down. You’re eager to get your home repaired, but be careful: some contractors aren’t really there to help. 

Most contractors are reputable business people. But each year, there are a few dishonest ones who chase storms from state to state. They may try to convince you that you have hail or other damage and need a new roof when you really don’t. They’ll ask to be hired for the work, explaining that your insurance company will pay for the repairs.

 Homeowner’s polices cover damage caused by hail and windstorms, but they will not cover the cost to replace a roof or siding when no damage has occurred. Since the work these dishonest contractors offer may not be of the highest quality,We also highly recommends that you get a second—even a third—opinion before starting any contract work. It’s not fair to you to have your roof, once in excellent condition, altered so that it is inferior in quality.

 What you can do
If you’re beginning to repair or rebuild after a storm, or even if you are just planning a home improvement project, keep these tips, recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in mind for choosing contractors wisely:

  • Get more than one estimate.
  • Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away.
  • Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed.
  • Check references before deciding which contractor to choose.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks.
  • Don’t pay a contractor in full until the work is complete.
  • Check with county or city licensing authorities to see if the contractor is licensed in your jurisdiction, as well as checking for complaints with their regional Better Business Bureau.

We can help, too
If you need suggestions about who to hire or how to repair your home after a storm, we can help you contact an insurance claims adjuster. Our companies have  professional claims adjusters who are trained to assess your property, identify storm damage and prepare an estimate for proper repair. They can also provide recommendations for reliable, licensed contractors in your area—although the final choice of contractor is always yours.

Contact our agency for more information. 518-389-2455.

Thinking of having work done around your house?

Posted on May 10th, 2011 in Business Insurance, Liability Insurance, Workers Compensation Insurance | No Comments »

Be careful…
Make sure that your contractors have both general liability and workers compensation insurance so you are protected against lawsuits from injury on your property.

Labor laws in New York will most likely exclude you from the lawsuit on single or two family homes, as long as you do not directly control what the general contractor does or does not do.   Another tip in avoiding or minimizing a lawsuit is to never allow a contractor or their employees to use your equipment such as a ladder or tools as that can change your liability situation and potentially expose you to unwanted liability.

If you are having work done and want to be sure you are protected, call or e-mail us for additional information!

Cut the cost of adding your teen driver to your auto policy

Posted on April 29th, 2011 in Car Insurance, Personal Insurance | 6 Comments »

So, you have willfully granted permission to your child to drive your cars?   A tough pill to swallow, we knowTeen Driving! The even bigger pill to swallow is to see your auto premium nearly double after adding them to the policy!

Adding your child to your auto policy, does not come at a low cost! Here are some tips that will help you cut the cost of adding your teen driver to the policy.

First things first, lets just put a kabosh on the thought running through your mind: yes, you do need to add your newly licensed child to the policy! Although “resident relatives” are insureds on your policy without being listed; they must be added when they become a principal or part-time operator of a vehicle insured on your policy.  If you do not add them and a claim should arise, companies will investigate and can charge back for premium that should have been collected.
Inevitably, your teen will have to be added to the policy, so here are some quick tips on how to “soften the blow”

1. Don’t buy a new car!

We know that you want your children to drive the safest cars, especially when they are new drivers, but the same safe cars can be found that are not brand new.  Newer cars are much more expensive to insure as parts are newer and much more limited.  Respectively, the more expensive the vehicle, the more expensive it will be to get the same parts to fix the vehicle if it were to be damaged.  Additionally, most of the premium comes from comprehensive coverage and collision coverage so the advantage to buying an older, less expensive vehicle is that it may not be worth carrying collision coverage which will keep the premium a lot lower.

2.Don’t report the “fender bender”

Consider paying small claims out of your pocket and saving your insurance for     the more expensive claims that arise.  Why, you ask? Insurance companies will hold accidents against a driver for up to five years.  This means becoming ineligible for safe driver discounts and exposing you to surcharges.  Your child will also become a high-risk as a young driver with accidents.

3.Jack-up your deductible

If you are going to be paying small claims that you can handle out of your pocket- you should be increasing your deductibles to $1,000 or even $2,000 if you think that is do-able.  Increasing your deductible by that amount can save you up to 35% on your overall premium. If you are a safe driver to begin with, it may be a good idea to start saving some money because of that!

4. Take advantage of discounts!

Have your teen driver enroll in the driver training program offered through most schools.  This can give up to 10% off the premium for that vehicle.  Defensive driving, which can be taken online ( will give another 10% off, good for 3 years, which can also remove points for tickets.  Many companies also offer “away at school” discounts for students that leave their vehicle at home while away at college.  Young driver discounts and safe driver discounts are also available for households with no claims. Most companies also offer a good student discount.

Take advantage of these tips as a way to keep the premium low when adding your teen driver to the policy.  You may also consider getting your child on their own policy.  The advantage here is keeping the liability away from you, while also preserving your driving record.  If your child gets ticketed or into an accident it is your policy that will suffer, and ultimately your wallet that will absorb the blow!

 We represent companies that offer all these discounts, for more information give us a call! 518-389-2455

When should I take collision coverage off my car?

Posted on April 21st, 2011 in Car Insurance | No Comments »

I bet you are thinking, right when I take collision coverage off my car is right when I will have an accident! Well, It is always a toss up of when to drop collision coverage, as it is one of the most expensive (electable) coverages on the auto policy. You have probably sat down and started getting in to complicated math formulas to figure out if paying for the collision on the policy is worth the amount you will get if the car is totaled.

Well, fret no more! Hopefully this will set you at ease for deciding on when to pick up and or drop collision coverage.

You should first figure out the value of your car in itʼs current state. You can do so by going to Kelly Blue Book. KBB is accepted as a trusted resource in the car industryʼs valuation of vehicles. This will give you and accurate value to work with. Here are some points to consider in your decision:

1. If your collision coverage is more expensive than the value of your car, DROP the coverage. The chances are, even a small accident will total your vehicle because it would be more to repair the car then it is worth.
2. Is the value of your car, minus the policy deductible, equal to the premium that you are paying for it? Young drivers collision premium can be extremely expensive, ask yourself if the premium is equal to the value of the car minus your deductible.
3. You can also elect to drop or pick up collision coverage at your leisure. I advise my clients that are on the fence about the coverage to keep in mind they live in Upstate NY. Upstate NY winters can get brutal which is cause for many accidents throughout the winter months. Keep the collision on the vehicle during the winter and then drop it in the summer to save some money.

A couple of things to note. If you are leasing a car, you are required to carry collision coverage. If there is no lease on it, it is up to you to decide. When vehicles become 8-10 years old is when you should start thinking about letting the coverage go!

If you are still lost in trying to figure out the value of the vehicle and if dropping the coverage will work financially for you, just ask an insurance agent

How much liability insurance do I need?

Posted on April 16th, 2011 in Car Insurance | No Comments »

Can I get sued after an auto accident? Why you may still be exposed even after your auto insurance policy protects you.

Not sure what liability limits you have on your auto policy, or even why you have those limits? Well, you should! Recently, some clients have asked if they can be sued for damages that occur after being involved in an accident. The answer is yes!

Your auto insurance policy will provide coverage for any liability you are exposed to (here is where it gets interesting) up to the limits you selected in your policy. Remember these are limits that you have chosen. New York State mandates that the minimum liability coverage carried is $25,000 if one person is involved in an accident and $50,000 for two or more.

Now say for example you are involved in an expensive accident and multiple people are injured, as well as damages to multiple vehicles and property. Likely, damages will be very high. You could be looking at a lawsuit against you for way over the $50,000 minimum that your policy will protect you for. This is where you can become exposed to a lawsuit. Lawyers can come after your personal assets, garnish and freeze your wages in an attempt to satisfy the balance of the suit.

If you have assets to protect, additional properties, a sum of money in the bank, etc.- you should make sure you take a look at the limits of your policy and make sure that enough coverage is there to protect your personal assets. Many clients also choose to purchase umbrella (extra liability) coverage to protect them even better.

How do you know how much is enough? Well that is a good question, and one that working with an agent can help you with. How much liability insurance you should carry is a direct relation of what assets you have to protect. If you make on average, $35,000 per year and rent an apartment, you should be fine with $50,000/$100,0000. However if you make $75,000 or more and own a home, it is a very good idea to carry at least $100,000/$300,000 in liability coverage. Use this net worth calculator for a good idea of where you stand.

Additionally, if you are someone who has a substantial amount of assets to protect, liability limits of $250,000/$500,000 or more are recommended. On top of that, we also suggest purchasing a $1M umbrella for protection on all liability claims.