Insurance changes for those saying “I Do” (or will be soon)!

Before you say “Yes to the Dress” – you may want to give your insurance representative a call.  It may be the last thing on your mind while you pick out colors, dresses, and flowers – but it may be the most important call you make.  Marriage changes many things – including your insurance contract – so it’s important to figure out what you need to do.  We’ll share the six most common tips for those who are planning on getting married.

  1. Schedule your engagement ring!  – The average cost of an engagement ring (according to is $5431!  What if the ring is stolen?  What if the ring is lost while washing dishes or doing lawn work?  Standard renter’s and homeowner’s insurance policies only provide coverage up to a certain amount and only for certain causes of loss.  Protect the jewelry by ‘scheduling’ the ring on your home or renters policy to provide cost-effective comprehensive coverage.

  2. Add your spouse! – Add your spouse to your policies after you are married – you may be eligible for certain discounts.  Statistics show that married people have fewer accidents than those flying solo.  Also, if you each are insured with different companies (or different policies) – you’ll most likely save money by combining your policies.

  3. Ask about a multi-vehicle discount!  – If you each own a car, you will be eligible with most companies to receive a multi-policy discount.  In some cases, it may cost the same amount to insure two vehicles as it does one!  When are insurance companies ever logical!?

  4. Ask about a multi-policy discount! – When combining insurance policies, always first check to see if it is cheaper to put all of your insurance policies with one company.  Many insurance companies offer substantial multi-policy discounts – which may save you bundles of money.

  5. Ask about an umbrella policy!  – After marriage, life tends to start moving quite quickly.  Home purchases, baby showers,  and babies all happen before you know it!  An umbrella policy is a cost effective way (around $10/month) to protect your assets from the increasing liability exposures that usually accompany marriage.

  6. Buy life insurance! – You no longer just care for yourself – you have a spouse (and possibly children) to care for and protect.  Life insurance can provide protection for a spouse in the event the unthinkable does happen.  Life insurance proceeds can be used to pay off mortgages and debts, used as replacement income, for children’s tuition, final expenses, and a myriad of other uses.  Protect those you love by purchasing life insurance.

Insurance is the last thing anyone thinks about while planning their special day; however, it is an important topic to bring up.  It’s also a great way of saving money and offsetting some of those wedding day expenditures!

Fallen trees – Are they your responsibility?

As snow and ice storms sweep the country due to the lovely ‘Polar Vortex’ – a record number of fallen trees were left. If a tree falls in your yard, is it covered under your homeowners insurance policy? Or, if your neighbor’s tree falls in your yard, whose responsibility is it?

Although we can’t control if a tree falls in our yard or on our property, the only thing that matters is if a tree fell in our yard or on our property. It generally does not matter where the tree originated, only where it ends.

The first place to check for insurance coverage is the homeowners policy. If the tree was caused by a storm (lightning, wind, ice, snow, etc.) and caused damage to your property (i.e. house, shed, garage) coverage will usually apply under the homeowners policy. This coverage applies even if the tree did not originate in your yard. The company that writes the homeowners insurance may try and subrogate against your neighbor, if they feel as though they were liable for the tree falling through any negligence or inaction (trimming limbs, etc.).

This explains why many companies request that insureds trim tree branches or trees that appear to be at high risk for falling. It protects your property in addition to eliminating liability exposures. Poorly maintained trees in yards are red flags for risk and may cause a company to deny an offer for coverage on the property and premise.

What if a tree falls in your yard, but causes no damage to your property? Again, the first place to start is the homeowners insurance policy. Some policies may provide coverage for

tree removal and cleanup costs while many companies do not. As always, it is important to contact your insurance representative or company to find out if coverage applies.

Fallen trees are generally unthought of of during the insurance purchasing process; however, they can be a hassle when they fall. Furthermore, substantial damage can occur from fallen trees. Therefore, it is worth a discussion with your trusted insurance representative to assess your risk and risk tolerance for this exposure.

Say Goodbye to 40 and 60 watt bulbs in 2014

As of January 1, 2014, it will be ‘lights-out’ for forty watt and 60 watt light bulbs. It is now illegal to either manufacture or import these light bulbs – which are still common in many households. Per the article cited below, about 50% of households still use these old-fashioned light bulbs. Retailers will be allowed to sell their remaining stock; however, once they are gone – they will be gone for good. Beginning in 2012, 100 watt light bulbs were phased out and seventy-five watt light bulbs followed in 2013.

The mandate is a byproduct of the Energy and Independence Security Act, signed by President Bush in 2007. These old, incandescent light bulbs are highly inefficient – only about 10% of their energy is converted to light, the rest being lost as heat.

Once the nation’s four billion light sockets are replaced with higher efficiency light bulbs, a mere $13 billion will be saved by consumers and thirty large coal-burning power plants worth of electricity per year. How much money does this save you? For every incandescent light bulb that is replaced with a CFL (compact fluorescent light), you will save about $50 per bulb over their expected life. Although LED light bulbs are pricier with their up-front costs ($10 per bulb for their 60-watt equivalent), consumers are expected to save between $100 and $150.

To avoid common complaints from many individuals who have already converted, follow these helpful tips:

  • Don’t inadvertently buy a bulb that’s too bright. New bulbs are measured in lumens, not watts, which can be confusing. A 10-watt LED is as bright as a 60-watt incandescent, so if you purchase a 19-watt LED for a small accent light, it will seem glaring. The NRDC has a useful chart showing the light equivalences of various bulbs.
  • Choose different types of bulbs for different purposes. Meeker uses LEDs and CFLs to light hallways, stairwells, and basements, and for spotlighting objects. For living spaces, he prefers halogen incandescent bulbs. He says they are a great substitute for the old bulbs, especially if you use them on a dimmer.
  • If you want to use CFLs, choose the right color. Most people prefer the ones labeled “warm.” The bulbs that are labeled “daylight” are bluish.
  • Bring the bulb you want to replace to the store so you can find an equivalent that is the correct size and shape.
  • The new bulbs don’t work in recessed can lighting. You will still need to buy reflector bulbs, which are not subject to the same regulations.
  • If you have dimmers, chose a halogen incandescent bulb or LED. Most CFLs do not work with dimmer sockets.

While change is always tough – this one has all the properties of a win-win situation: consumers save money on their electricity bills and each household becomes less energy dependent. As always, knowledge is power and these helpful hints should make this transition as seamless as possible.

Information Courtesy of the following article:

Equipment Breakdown Coverage – Homeowners Policy Endorsement

Homeowners policies come with a variety of endorsements, packages, and bundles – each with their own unique or clever name. It’s important to understand what endorsement or coverage is included in your homeowners policy. While there are a variety of very important endorsements that you should consider adding to your homeowners policy, we are going to be discussing one today: Equipment Breakdown Coverage.

Those who are familiar with commercial policies may be more familiar with equipment breakdown coverage (especially if that business has a boiler or a similar piece of equipment). Most individuals are not aware that many (but not all) insurance carriers offer a similar endorsement for their personal policies. It is often quite inexpensive and covers a variety of equipment for causes that would not be covered otherwise.

Let’s start by defining what the coverage is: coverage for mechanical breakdown, electrical breakdown and power surge to all real and personal property. Usually the policy deductible would apply to all covered losses and some companies place a maximum limit that would be paid out for any one occurrence. It’s also important to ask if there is any waiting period for coverage to be effective if the endorsement is added mid-term.

Coverage is generally provided for all electrical and mechanical equipment such as furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, computers, televisions, etc. While these items are covered under your personal property coverage on your home policy – it is the cause of loss where this endorsement creates value. The cause of loss is unique to this endorsement (and parts of it would be covered under special personal property coverage (see next blog post for more info)).

An important note: although mechanical breakdown carries a broad definition in most insurance policy forms – many times there are important exclusions to this coverage. For example, a policy form may exclude coverage for normal wear and tear or breakdown due to negligence.

As always, please ask your insurance professional any additional questions you may have regarding this topic. We feel as though there is value in this endorsement – if the company you are with offers this coverage. Please read policy forms for exact coverage.

Casualty Rates Expected to Rise, per Property & Casualty 360

A recent article in the February 2013 issue of Property Casualty 360 magazine outlined projections for casualty rates for the remainder of 2013.  For those that are unaware, casualty insurance is often equated to liability insurance but is insurance not directly concerned with life, health, or property insurance.  Casualty rates climbed during the fourth quarter of 2012 and shockingly, are expected to increase during 2013.

A recent report from the brokerage, Marsh, focused on four U.S. Casualty lines of business:  General Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Auto Liability, and Umbrella/Excess Casualty.


  • 56% of clients experienced increase in rates
  • 29% experienced no change in rates
  • Average increase in rate was 4.9%

General Liability:

  • 54% of clients experienced increase in rates
  • 18% experience no change in rates
  • Average rate increase was 2.1%
  • Clients with superior loss history, good loss control measures, and lower exposures were able to secure rate decreases at renewal.
  • Underwriting scrutiny continued to increase = longer processing times

Workers’ Compensation:

  • 51% of clients experienced rate increases
  • 16% experience no change in rates
  • Average rate increase was 2.9%
  • Marsh reports in its study that this line of business has been operating at a “historically unprofitable level for insurers”.  Insurers will look to become more profitable via rate increases and higher retentions
  • Employers with good loss control programs tend to be better protected from rate increases

Auto Liability:

  • Rates were stable throughout 2012; however, Q4 experienced the most clients that experienced rate increases at 47%
  • 24% experienced no change in rates
  • Insurers sought rate increases for this line; but typically agreed to on rates that were lower than the original quote

The insurance rates that have grabbed the headlines had been property rates – due to the increased weather activity, deductible requirements, and other underwriting changes by companies.  However, it’s important to note that casualty rates continue to rise – especially in workers’ compensation.  Additionally, it’s is of particular interest to note that most insurers are willing to write policies at a lower rate if the client agrees to implement loss control measures and has a favorable loss history.

It’s important to remember these studies when you are reviewing your renewal policies this coming year.  As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!