Identity Theft Prevention

Last year more than 1.3 million Massachusetts residents were affected by data breaches, a fourfold increase from 2014 affecting approximately 1 in 5 people. As it becomes easier for our personal information to fall into the wrong hands, identity theft continues to be a big problem in the Bay State.

Internet identity theft on a digital tablet with reflection of hackers hand concept for online digital crime

If you know your identity has been stolen or suspect it’s been compromised, call Bunker Hill immediately at 888-472-5246. We’ll connect you to an Identity Theft 911® specialist, a service specializing in identity management and fraud education. Bunker Hill customers get the following services at no extra cost:*

  • 24/7 personalized fraud assistance, from notifying credit bureaus and government agencies to filing a police report and helping create a Fraud Victim Affidavit
  • Assistance in replacing sensitive documents, like your passport, credit and debit cards, driver’s license, and tax and other personal documents
  • Preventative services if you experience burglary, see a suspicious debit or credit charge, learn of a data breach you might’ve been affected by, or if you’ve had a significant life change that might make you vulnerable to theft
  • Proactive identity theft education

Identity theft doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone. If you suspect someone has stolen your identity, call us immediately at 888-472-5246 and we’ll connect you to an Identity Theft 911® specialist who will guide you through the resolution process.

Other ways to protect your identity

  • Use a paper shredder to discard documents that may contain confidential information, like your social security number
  • Review your bank and credit card statements carefully and speak up if you notice a suspicious charge
  • Use strong passwords for your online accounts. Strong passwords should be more than eight characters and contain both capital letters and at least one numeral or other non-alphabetical character
  • Be conservative with your personal information

At Bunker Hill, we’re committed to protecting more than just your home. We’re committed to safeguarding the whole you.

*These services are provided by Identity Theft 911, which is not an affiliate of Bunker Hill Insurance Company. These services are not an insurance product and do not guarantee or warrant that a user of these services will not suffer any losses as a result of fraud committed using personal information. These services are intended only to assist users to prevent identity theft from occurring and to assist users in recovering from identity theft. These services do not reimburse users for any losses or out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with identity theft

Prepare for freezing temps this weekend

The coldest temperatures of the winter are coming to New England this weekend. With the mercury dipping well below freezing, residents should take note of the increased risk for ice dams and frozen pipes.cold weather ahead

ICE DAMS 

This weekend’s drastic changes in temperature, along with the accumulation of snow on roofs, are the perfect environment for ice dams to form. Watch for these early warning signs:

  • Icicles hanging from your roof or gutters
  • Ice sitting on top of gutters, at the edge of your roof, or along your home’s siding
  • Ice or water inside or around your windows

If you suspect an ice dam is beginning to form or already has, call a professional to remove it immediately.

FROZEN PIPES   

While there are long term measures you can take to prevent frozen pipes in your home, like having proper insulation and sealing any cracks or gaps in your siding or foundation, there are a few small, but helpful, things you should do during extreme cold spells:

  • Bump your thermostat up to 68 degrees or higher at night to keep the temperature in the exterior walls above freezing
  • Open cabinets to allow warm airflow to plumbing located next to exterior walls (or interior walls adjacent to unheated spaces, like a garage)
  • Let cold water drip from the faucet to reduce pressure on the pipes even if the water freezes

If you suspect a frozen pipe in your home, shut off the main water supply and call a licensed plumber right away. We recommend you avoid thawing a frozen pipe yourself – improper technique could cause the pipe to burst, leading to costly damages to your home.

Need to report a claim?

If your home sustains damage, it’s important you report it to Bunker Hill immediately online or by calling us at 888-472-5246.

Stay safe and warm this weekend!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Last minute snow reminders

It looks like our neighbors in the mid-Atlantic will bear the brunt of Jonas while here in New England we’re only expected to get a few inches of snow. Though it’s important to be prepared for any amount of snowfall, there’s no need to clear out the milk and bread aisles in a pre-apocalyptic frenzy.snowy city illustration

Just in case, check out these last-minute tidbits on getting ready for snowfall. Once you’re prepared, then you can spend your weekend drowning out the weather hype by cheering on New England’s favorite football team.

Have the right supplies

Make sure you have the essentials for dealing with snow. A roof rake, a shovel, and some rock salt or another deicing agent should be sufficient for this weekend’s storm.

While you’re gathering materials, consider assembling an emergency supply kit. This’ll be helpful in the event you lose power. Your kit should include survival basics, like water, nonperishable food, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, a cell phone charger, and a first aid kit. For more ideas on what to pack in your emergency kit, check out the American Red Cross.

Stay connected

Oftentimes, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect when it comes to snowstorms. In the days leading up to Jonas, for example, forecasts have called for anywhere between 2” and 12” of snowfall in our area. These ever-changing forecasts lend themselves to the simple fact that weather patterns are unpredictable and can change at a moment’s notice.

Therefore, watch for alerts from organizations like the National Weather Service or tune into local news broadcasts to stay up to date on the latest weather conditions in your area.

Communicate

Apocalyptic snowstorm or not, it’s always good to have a communication plan set in place so you know what to do and who to contact in the event of an emergency.

We’re here for you

Even though we’re not projected to get a crippling blizzard this weekend, there’s always the possibility that things can get damaged when it snows. If something happens and you need to report a claim, please contact us immediately so that we can help.

You can either report a claim online or by calling Bunker Hill at 888-472-5246.

Since it’s only the third week of January, we’re not out of the woods just yet – there’s still plenty of time for some blizzards reminiscent of Nemo in 2013 and last year’s Juno. But for now, let’s enjoy this weekend’s “mild” snowfall.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Enjoy Fall in New England

fall foliage

This tree couldn’t decide which color it wanted to be. Photographed in Marshfield, MA. October 2015.

It’s hard not to fall in love with fall in New England – the leaves are changing color, it’s comfortable sweater weather, and the holidays are around the corner. And while October is almost over (!) there’s still time enjoy the fall foliage before November rolls in.

Leaves are turning all over New England, but if you want to know where the most brilliant colors are bursting, check out this foliage map. You don’t need to travel northbound enjoy the show, there are plenty of opportunities here in Massachusetts and Connecticut to satisfy your hungry eyes.

For those in Massachusetts, consider a road trip along the Mohawk Trail (Rt. 2) this weekend. As you wind through the picturesque northern Berkshires, keep riding west on Rt. 2 and you’ll hit Shelburne Falls, a quaint village in the Deerfield River Valley featuring natural beauty, talented artisans and small shops. Be sure to walk over the Bridge of Flowers during your visit.

In Connecticut,  the Department of Environmental Protection recommends visiting Macedonia Brook State Park, Mohawk State Forest or Pachaug State Forest for some quality leaf peeping,.

And for you urbanites that prefer staying in the city this weekend, there are plenty of autumn and Halloween-themed festivities going on. Get your fall fixing’s at the Boston Public Market’s Pumpkinpalooza or dress your pet in the spookiest costume you can find for the Faneuil Hall Halloween Pet Parade!

Whether you’re chasing foliage, carving pumpkins or cozying up to a fire, we hope you can get out there and take advantage of another wonderful fall weekend in New England!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Revere Tornado: One year later

Here in New England, tornados and hurricanes are (generally) few and far between – we’re often spared from what the South and Midwest might consider “normal.” But one year ago, on July 28, 2014, Revere, a densely populated Massachusetts city, was unexpectedly shaken when a tornado tore through the area. Though it only lasted a few minutes, the tornado left parts of Revere ravaged and stunned – trees down, rooftops blown off, fences uprooted.Tornado roof

Bunker Hill insures many homes in the Revere area. When calls began rolling in from independent agents and customers, our adjusters responded promptly with compassion and courtesy. They were quick to meet with affected policyholders and view the damage. Throughout the process, we worked closely with our Revere-area independent agents to get our customers’ claims settled quickly – so they could get their homes repaired and on with their lives.

When it comes to catastrophes like a tornado, it can be hard to find the positive among the negative. We are sorry for the disruption the tornado caused our customers.  But we are proud that we were there for them when they needed us most and that our response to the situation was recognized in a positive way by Revere independent agents and customers alike.

A year later, we’re still proud of the hard work of our adjusters and independent agents to help restore some normalcy to Revere. The 2014 tornado proved Revere’s a resilient city. As a local home insurance provider, it’s our privilege to do business with many of its residents. Just as we were when the tornado touched down, we’ll be there for our customers when the next disaster strikes.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Shop local, improve neighborhoods

During National Small Business Week, it’s important to take the time to recognize the contributions that small business owners make to our communities. Since many of Bunker Hill’s independent agents are small business owners integral to our success, we are especially indebted to their entrepreneurial spirits and appreciative of their dedication to the local communities we serve.small business owners

Why small businesses matter. The American Dream was founded on the notion that if you work hard and persevere, you can make something of yourself – a goal the “average Joe” could achieve. Though we’ve reached a point in history where businesses range from “mom and pop” shops to complex multinational corporations, the romantic ideal of self-made success can still be found as easily on Main Street as it can on Wall Street.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either work for or own small businesses – creating two out of three new jobs in the U.S. each year. These numbers suggest that small businesses are still a powerful force behind our economy, and regardless of size, scope or number of patrons, each small business contributes to the American Dream.

Not only do small businesses provide jobs for the majority of the American workforce, but small businesses offer something major corporations might otherwise not: direct quantitative and qualitative benefits to communities.

Quantitative is pretty obvious: keeping dollars in the community. When you shop at the local corner store, the storeowner is more likely to recycle that revenue elsewhere in your community. Locally-owned businesses also create local jobs for people in the community.

Though the qualitative benefits may not be as apparent, they’re just as important. Small business transactions can contribute to the overall well-being of a town. For example, there is an inherent human component when you make a local purchase because you’re connecting directly with other members of your neighborhood.  This is your way of saying, “I support the well-being of our community because I support you and your business.”

Small businesses also offer unique solutions to competition.  While larger, national businesses are more immune to smaller market forces, small business owners are compelled to stay innovative and offer better service to customers because of the diversity in the marketplace.

So, shopping locally benefits everyone: the consumer, the business owner and the community at large.

HOW to support small businesses. Supporting small businesses begins with appreciation – it’s important to understand the impact shopping locally has on your neighborhood. Then, it’s a matter of committing to shopping locally. For example, instead of eating at a chain restaurant, consider eating a meal at a standalone place. Try buying your groceries at the local corner market rather than the big supermarket in the strip mall. Or, consider talking to a local, independent agent rather than a direct online carrier the next time you’re in the market for home insurance. Unlike a large direct carrier, independent agents offer a personal interaction: they will take the time to understand your needs and educate you on products based on your situation.

If you’re in the Boston area, consider participating in Acoustic on Main – a citywide initiative to connect neighborhoods, local businesses and live performers in honor of National Small Business Week.

While shopping locally, remember to share your favorite experiences with others because word of mouth and referrals are some of the best ways to learn about new businesses, products and services. Whether it’s through social media or leaving a consumer review, it’s easy to get the word out on your favorite spots.

So, as consumers, we should appreciate the resilience of Main Street business owners and show that appreciation by shopping locally – not just during National Small Business Week – but all year.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

 

Don’t shoot the messenger: Hurricane season is upon us

Although it seems like spring JUST arrived (well, in some places it did), the last thing we want to do is rush it by looking ahead to summer. But, if Mother Nature continues her streak of extreme weather this year, it’s wise to start considering the potential for hurricanes. And as 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of Katrina, one of the country’s costliest and deadliest hurricanes, it’s a sobering reminder that we all should be prepared for unexpected severe weather.Hurricane warning

  • Communication is key, so have a Family Emergency Plan. This is a good strategy not just for hurricanes, but extreme weather in general. Make sure family members know how to reconnect after a storm. Children should be trained on how to call 911 for help and should memorize the number of a trusted out-of-state family member or friend to contact if necessary. Be sure each family member knows the phone number of that contact as well.
  • Along with communication preparation, physical preparation is imperative.  To ensure you’re well-prepared for a severe storm, consider making an emergency supply kit equipped with at least the following:
    • Three days’ supply of basic food, water and clothing
    • Flashlights, weather radio, and fresh batteries
    • Any necessary prescription medications
    • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information in waterproof, portable bags
    • Extra cash
    • First aid kit

Visit FEMA’s website for additional comments

Be prepared for an evacuation 

  • Identify meeting places both within and outside your city or town
  • Listen and watch for instructions from the authorities on safe escape routes to established shelters (Pro tip: The American Red Cross provides a list of shelters nationwide that’s updated every thirty minutes)
  • If you have a car, fill up the gas tank before a storm in case of an immediate evacuation
  • Identify multiple ‘escape’ routes out of your area in the event there are road hazards, such as flooded streets, washed out bridges or downed power lines
  • If time permits, secure your home by unplugging all appliances and locking your windows and doors

As is the case with all extreme weather conditions, the best way to be prepared is to have a plan. Let’s hope for a mild summer, but also be aware of the realities of weather and ready ourselves for the unexpected.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

 

You’re moved into your new home… now what?

Spring and summer are popular times for home buying and selling; lawns are at their best (after all, it is about presentation!) and the warm weather makes the daunting task of moving more bearable. But as exciting as moving is, it’s a huge endeavor with lots of moving parts (see what I did there?) and it’s easy to forget some simple, yet necessary, steps to take after you’re in the new house. So, if you’re among those making an exciting move this season, here are tips on what to take care of afterwards to ensure you’re happy, settled and safe in your new home:Giving house keys

  • Change the locks. Unless the house is brand new, there’s no way of knowing who has made copies of the keys over the years. Once the papers are signed and the keys are in your hand, switch out the locks so that you can account for anyone who can access your home.
  • Forward your mail. Head to the post office and setup mail forwarding so that you don’t miss any important bills or other communications. If you’d rather, you can do it online through the US Postal Service website. Although this can be done before the actual move, this step can easily be forgotten among the laundry list of other things that need to be taken care of. Since there’s always the chance that some mail doesn’t make it to your new address, it’s a good idea to leave your new address with the people at your previous residence for stragglers or check in periodically if possible.
  • Update your license and registration. It’s important for these documents to have your most current address. Also, if you’ve moved to an area that requires a residence permit to park on the street, you’ll need to provide proof that your car is actually registered in that town.
  • Notify important constituents. Let any organization that needs your address know that you’ve relocated. For example, usually a credit card is tied to your address. So, before your card is declined, let your carrier know that you’ve moved.
  • Get reconnected. If you need to, now’s the time to setup your cable, internet and phone services.
  • Don’t forget about your health. If you’ve relocated to an entirely new area, you’ll want to find a new doctor and dentist. Have your old healthcare providers forward your medical records. If you can keep the same doctor and dentist, just be sure to notify them of your address change.
  • Start fresh. Give the inside of your new home a good cleaning,  especially if it isn’t a new construction. Sometimes previous owners can leave a messy trail once they’ve moved out. Now that you’re in the home, you’ll want a clean – both literally and figuratively – slate to make it your own.
  • Window treatments. Once officially in your new home, be sure to install window treatments for privacy’s stake if there aren’t any already.
  • Cosmetics. After you’ve taken care of the big construction (if any), now’s the time to tackle those cosmetic fixes. If you’re taking down wallpaper and painting rooms, make sure to drape sheets over your furniture to protect it from paint and other chemicals.

This list is but the tip of the iceberg for what needs to be done after moving into a new home. We hope you’ve gained some valuable insight and can use this as a starting point for your post-move responsibilities.

Happy moving!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

As spring approaches, so does the risk of flooding

After what seems like an eternal winter in New England, temperatures are finally beginning to warm up as we approach a dim (but glowing, nonetheless) light at the end of the snowy tunnel. While spring brings the promise of warm weather and longer days, it also brings conditions that will increase the risk of floods. And now that this winter’s unprecedented amount of snow is beginning to melt (yay!), possible flooding should be top of mind.Flooded interior

No matter where you live – urban townhouse, coastal beach house or suburban family-home – flooding can happen anywhere with little or no warning. So, even if you think you live in a safe area, as the snow begins to melt and spring rains arrive, it’s important to be prepared and understand flood risks.

Pro tip: Check out FEMA’s flood hazard maps to find out exactly how risky your community is

Spring into action: Take steps before a flood

  1. If you live in a high-risk area, prepare an emergency kit so you’re ready to go in the event of a flood. Items should at least include:
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food
  • First Aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Essential medicines
  • Extra cash
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra change of clothes
  • Important insurance and financial documents

For a full list of recommended items, visit The American Red Cross

2. If you live in a high flood-risk area, also consider having a professional evaluate your home’s furnace, water heater and electrical panel and determine if any modifications need to be made to decrease the chances of water damage

3. Secure your basement as it’s the most vulnerable space when it comes to floods. Begin with checking and sealing any cracks in the foundation to prevent leaks. Check out these comprehensive instructions on readying your basement from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

Stay alert: What to do during a flood

Stay tuned to local broadcast stations (tv and/or radio) for updates on flooding in your area. If you need to evacuate, remember:

  • Shut off all utilities including gas, water and electricity, remember to unplug appliances
  • Do not walk through moving water. Water 6 inches deep is enough to knock you over
  • Do not drive in flooded areas. If you need to, abandon your car and seek higher ground immediately
  • Be aware of evacuation shelters in your area

Remain vigilant: What to do after a flood

  • Only return home when authorities have deemed it safe to do so
  • Before entering, check for downed power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house immediately. Call the fire department
  • Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box and avoid downed wiring. The smallest electrical spark could be dangerous
  • Throw away any food and properly dispose of cleaning products, batteries, paint and other chemical-based products that could’ve been damaged by the flood waters. Make sure to wear protective gear (gloves, mask, rubber boots, etc.) when cleaning up
  • Contact your insurance carrier right away if you need to file a claim
  • Download this free e-book from the American Red Cross that covers everything from:
    • Returning to your home safely
    • Protecting your belongings from further damage
    • How to properly file insurance claims
    • How to check for gas/water leaks

Even if floods are few and far between in your area, it never hurts to be prepared. And now that this winter’s snow is beginning to melt, it’s even more important to be aware of the potential dangers of flooding.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

 

 

New Englanders may face ice dam woes after historic snowfall

Mother Nature’s been relentless this winter – testing both our will and patience in New England. Although this week we were spared a large snowstorm, the almost seven feet of snow we already have in the Boston area means roofing woes remain for most. So while we are continuing to dig out, it’s important to be cognizant of the snow sitting on your roof.icicles

If you notice icicles hanging from your roof, water dripping from the roof overhang, or interior leaks or new stains on your ceilings, it’s likely an ice dam has formed. Ice dams are caused by snow on your roof that melts and then refreezes in the overhang, creating a blockage in the gutter and preventing proper drainage. Ice dams’ damage can be costly, so if you suspect one on your roof, it’s important to address it right away.

Of course, the best way to treat ice dams is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. However, prevention methods are more long term solutions and should be completed before winter’s onset to be most effective. Check out this blog post to learn more about prevention techniques.

So in the meantime, consider the following when dealing with ice dams:

  • After a snowstorm, hire a professional. This is the safest way to remove snow from your roof because professionals will have ample experience and proper equipment
  • However, if you wish to remove the snow yourself, remember to:
    • Use a roof rake safely – other tools could damage your shingles
    • Avoid standing underneath icicles or roofs with large amounts of snow
    • Be very careful when climbing ladders because rungs can be slippery with snow and ice on them
    • Don’t use a roof rake near electrical wires
    • Have someone nearby to check on you in case you need help or are injured
    • Create a channel in the ice dam by filling a large sock with calcium chloride and laying it across the dam, perpendicular to the gutter. The sock will gradually release the calcium chloride – a melting agent – and create a channel in the ice for water to flow through. You might need several socks for an ice dam that runs the length of your roof

If it reaches the point that an ice dam has formed and water begins leaking inside your home, collect the dripping water in buckets and pans. Mop up any standing water and remember to move any furniture, clothes and other valuables out of harm’s way. It’s also imperative that you promptly call a professional who can properly remove the ice dam and treat the damage.

Ice dams can be costly to both your home and wallet, so while we trudge through this never-ending winter, be on the lookout for warning signs that one may be forming (or has formed) and address it as soon as possible.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.