Category Archives: Homeowner’s Insurance

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.

Why Renters Insurance Really Matters

If you’re a recent college graduate, homeownership and all that comes with it – a mortgage, property taxes, trips to the hardware store – is probably not on your immediate radar. Home buying is a financial commitment and requires a certain level of stability that some young professionals might not have the luxury of boasting just yet. So for those of us who can’t commit to a hefty down payment or aren’t ready to commit to a certain geographic area, renting is a viable housing option.

In fact, the renting route might not just be for recent grads. 

rental agreement form

Although the American Dream of owning a home is still alive and well (7 in 10 renters aspire to this goal), a 2013 study from the MacArthur Foundation found that 57% of renters believe homeownership has become less attractive and 54% view renting as increasingly appealing. Current renters aren’t the only ones who see the allure; as more than half of the homeowners interviewed admitted they would consider renting in the future.

The American housing landscape is undoubtedly changing. Since 2009, 70% of our country’s biggest cities have experienced a rise in the number of households that rent.

But while the number of renters increases, more than half continue to skip the important step of adding a renters insurance policy to protect them and their valuables. These numbers warrant a deeper look into the importance of renters insurance.

Landlords and insurance: are YOU covered? Renters assume their landlords’ insurance policies cover the costs of damaged personal belongings. However, your landlord’s policy likely only covers disaster damage, such as fire, to the physical property and may not apply to your personal items. As a result, an increasing number of landlords are requiring their tenants to purchase a renters insurance policy, according to the vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.

Whether your landlord requires you to buy a policy or not, educating yourself on renters insurance can be worthwhile.

Where to begin?

Account for personal possessions. Standard renters policies typically offer minimum coverage of $25,000 for your possessions. Since your clothes, furniture, electronics and other possessions may cost more than that to replace, it’s a good idea to create a home inventory to determine the value of your stuff. A home inventory is simply a list of your personal possessions with their estimated values. Besides helping you determine the right amount of insurance to buy, keeping a detailed and accurate inventory is also important because it’ll make filing for a claim much easier. The Insurance Information Institute provides free software for creating a home inventory quickly and efficiently.

Note that renters insurance covers damages from disasters such as fire, lightning, vandalism, theft and certain types of water damage (i.e. your neighbor upstairs left his bathtub running). Since floods are not typically covered, consider enrolling in the government’s National Flood Insurance Program if you’re concerned about flooding in your apartment or the basement of your building.

If you possess expensive jewelry, rare collectibles or anything else of high value, consider adding a schedule as coverage for specific types of items may be capped in the standard policy. A schedule extends insurance coverage in the event these valuables are damaged, lost or stolen. Be sure to have each item appraised prior to adding a schedule as you will pay a premium based on the appraisal value. For more information on choosing the appropriate appraiser, check out this Consumer Reports article titled “How much is your stuff worth?”

Liability protection. In the unfortunate event you are sued by someone who was injured in your home, renters insurance can provide liability coverage. Your policy should cover some of the costs of court defense and court awards – generally limited too $100,000. You may purchase additional liability coverage as well.

Miscellaneous expenses. Renters insurance will likely cover additional living expenses (ALE) in the event your home is damaged and you have to temporarily move out. Such expenses include hotel rooms, car rentals, restaurants, and other similar costs incurred while living away from home. Some policies have a time limit for ALE coverage while others have a price cap- so be sure to read your policy carefully.

Discounts. For cost-conscious shoppers, consider inquiring about possible discounts with renters insurance. Companies usually grant discounts to renters who take preventative measures such as installing a security system, using smoke detectors, and having deadbolts on doors. Also, you could get a discount if you have a companion auto policy with a company.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home, condo and renters 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 property and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

It’s never too late – the big one could be right around the corner.

Following are some basic tips on hurricane preparedness to ensure that you aren’t caught off guard.

  1. Create a “Family Emergency Plan” – creating a Family Emergency Plan ensures that every family member knows how to reach or reconnect with each other.
    1. Post emergency numbers (fire, police, ambulance) by the phone. Teach children how to call 911 for help Identify family meeting places in case you are separated. Choose a place in a building or a park outside your neighborhood. Everyone should be clear about this location
    2. Develop an emergency communication plan. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the family’s contact.
    3. Make sure everyone knows the telephone number of this contact.
  2. Assemble an “Emergency Supply Kit” – your emergency supply kit should include basic food supplies and water to keep you and your family going for a minimum of 3 days. In addition, you should have a 30 supply of medications that you or your family members may take.  More information on what to include is listed below.
  3. Make sure that you and family members are aware of evacuation routes and the location of potential emergency shelters in case you feel that it is prudent to leave your home.
  4. Don’t forget about your car!  Your car should be placed in a garage and away from flood waters.  You also should fill your car with gas in the event you need to evacuate.

Remember, forewarned is forearmed – so keep your ears open for potential weather coming your way. Generally hurricanes that impact New England come from the south and you will have several days notice prior to landfall. Check out weather.com or The Weather Channel on a regular basis to stay up-to-date regarding developing weather systems that may impact you.

An Emergency Supplies Kit Should Include:

  • At least a 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
  • At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • At least, one change of clothing and shoes per person
  • One blanket or sleeping bag per person
  • First-aid kit
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) and a portable radio and extra batteries for each
  • Emergency tools
  • Flashlight, extra batteries
  • Extra set of car keys
  • Credit card and cash
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
  • Prescription and non-prescription medicines
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Find additional safety and preparedness material:

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. They are members of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast. Each of these companies is financially responsible only for its own insurance products. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued by each separate company.

Renters Insurance and why you need it.

120_rentersAccording to a recent Insurance Information Institute survey, only 35 percent of people who rent have renters insurance for their belongings. This is in stark contrast to the 96 percent of homeowners who have insurance, usually a pre-requisite for getting a mortgage.

Who rents and who owns (and where). You can click here to see some quick and interesting stats on homeowners vs. renters in America.

Renters insurance isn’t expensive. The average policy typically costs around $200-$250 a year—less than your cell phone bill and a few nights out on the town (depending on your tastes and if you’re still on your parents’ family plan).

In and out. Renters insurance covers the things you own in and outside your apartment. Bicycles and smartphones are typical examples of items used outside of your home that are covered on your renters policy. Check with your insurance agent to find out what’s covered and what’s not.

Block ID theft. Look to see if your renters insurance policy has ID fraud expense coverage. Bunker Hill pays for any expenses you incur as a direct result of an identity theft—this optional endorsement makes renters insurance worth it for many people.

There are two main types of renters insurance:

  • Actual Cash Value – this is your most economical option; it covers your belongings but factors in depreciation (lost value of item over time).
  • Replacement Cost – this type of coverage costs more than Actual Cash Value, but pays the real cost of replacing your possessions, without accounting for depreciation.

There are also endorsements – extra coverage – that you can purchase on top of your standard renters or homeowners insurance. You may want to consider purchasing extra insurance if you own expensive jewelry, furs, collectibles, or other costly, hard-to-replace items.

To find out what a renters insurance policy will cost you, you can find a Bunker Hill agent in your neighborhood by clicking here.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. They are members of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast. Each of these companies is financially responsible only for its own insurance products. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued by each separate company.

Bunker Hill – 6 Moving Tips for an (almost) Stress-Free Moving Day.

September is the month for moving Boston area. College kids are moving en masse to Mass, which means headaches (and some great trash picking) for the rest of us.

Get packing. Click around on The Learning Channel’s extensive moving day website, which features tips on everything from moving abroad to planning stress-free moves for plants, kids, and pets.

Also worth checking out: the popular website Buzzfeed posted some great tips on how to make your move a smooth one. The readers’ comments have some good ideas as well.

Six quick moving tips you will findMoving_Day on these sites include:

  1. Less stuff means less to pack (and unpack). Start to donate or sell your unwanted items online or at a moving sale at least two months before your moving day.
  2. Transplant plants into plastic pots at least two weeks before you move. Don’t water for 10 days before moving day. Or better yet, save the hassle (and potential deadly plant trauma) and give your greens away to friends and family—put down new roots (literally and figuratively) in your new place.
  3. Save on packing materials. Pack glassware and other delicate items in your clothing and socks—just make sure they’re clean first!
  4. One month before…Submit an address-change form with the Post Office; let friends and family know your new contact information; Organize essential documents and papers and store them in a safe place or bring them with you on moving day
  5. One week before…Transfer or close your bank accounts; transfer prescriptions to new pharmacy.
  6. One day before…Pack a carry-on bag with 1-2 days of meds, clothing, chargers, and other must-haves so you’re not stuck rummaging through boxes by flashlight on the first night in your new home

Make sure you have insurance. Chances are your landlord’s property insurance doesn’t include coverage for your belongings. Renters insurance is inexpensive and can replace your stuff if it’s stolen, lost or damaged. Find a local, independent Bunker Hill agent near you for more details. You can also take advantage of companion discounts if you have renters or homeowners insurance with Bunker Hill and car insurance with our affiliate, Plymouth Rock.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. They are members of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast. Each of these companies is financially responsible only for its own insurance products. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued by each separate company.

 

21st Century Lost-and-Found: High tech gadgets that find themselves

It’s the classic sunglasses-on-your-head scenario, especially when you’re in a rush to get out of the house: add up all the hours you spend looking for things that are right under your nose (or under that pile of mail on your kitchen counter) and you’ll probably be horrified.

We use embedded microchips to help find lost pets and GPS technology to track down stolen vehicles. But what all those other things in life that we rely on and have a tendency to disappear: our bicycles, smartphones, wallets, handbags, house and car keys?Gadget

The New York Times article, “In Your Pocket, a Lost-and-Found,” was written by a journalist who lost his carry-on bag in a yellow New York City cab. Thanks to a traceable credit card receipt the story had a happy ending, but it took a month to sort out. Has something similar happened to you, and if so, how did you handle it?

Good news may be on the horizon, however: some soon-to-be-released gadgets were developed with the goal to make our lives less stressful when our stuff gets lost or goes missing.

  • “Linquet” was designed to stop your things from going missing in the first place. A cloud-based, Bluetooth-enabled device, Linquet sounds an alarm when you and your items are separated. Linquet’s creators claim the product will trigger an alarm if you and your items drift beyond a certain distance apart. Each device costs around $30 and you can learn more at www.linquet.com.
  • “StickNFind” are quarter-sized “location stickers” that run on watch batteries and claim to last up to a year. The stickers are Bluetooth-enabled and can be located using a smart phone. Available in several colors, two stickers cost $49.99. Learn more at www.sticknfind.com.
  • “Tile” doesn’t run on batteries and its developers claim it can last up to a year (you’ll get an envelope for recycling along with your renewal reminder). The product uses GPS and crowd sourcing to help locate lost items, establishing a wider range to find a lost item, especially if there are plenty of other Tiles in your neighborhood. Tile is set to ship out this winter. One Tile costs $18.95; $56.85 gets you four Tiles. You can order them on www.thetileapp.com.

Linquet, StickNFind and Tile are just three examples of some of the new products out there. We have not tried these products ourselves and do not endorse or recommend any particular product. If you are interested in these types of products you should do your own research before making any purchases.

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 homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.