Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Benefits of Umbrella Coverage are Undeniable

Umbrella Coverage can protect your financial future
By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

With the United States earning a spot in the top 10 most litigious countries in the world, it can be easy to forget that individuals as well as companies can be named as defendants in a lawsuit. Lawsuits can arise from a number of different scenarios, but it is most problematic when the alleged damages exceed a defendant’s insurance policy limits. To help protect your financial future, Blais Insurance would like to share information about the importance of umbrella insurance.

Simply stated, umbrella insurance is an extra layer of liability coverage if a claim exceeds your auto, home, or boat insurance policy limits. Many people do not think about umbrella coverage, assuming they are fully protected in the event of an accident or expensive claim.

While traditional forms of coverage, such as auto or homeowners insurance, provide an adequate level of coverage for most scenarios, individuals and families can be left financially vulnerable if they are held responsible for losses that eclipse those individual policy limits.  

In order to fully appreciate the importance of umbrella insurance, simply consider the following scenario. Imagine you are driving your vehicle when you take your eyes off the road to tend to your child or pickup your iced coffee. As your eyes wander, you are suddenly involved in an automobile accident that injured several passengers from the other vehicle.

Financial uncertainty will begin to unfold if the claim amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, which typically exhausts the insurance limits of most policyholders. At this point, umbrella insurance would kick-in and cover the difference. This is just one example where umbrella insurance can help provide policyholders with peace of mind.

In Rhode Island, defendants that are held responsible for claims that exceed their insurance policy limits may have to forfeit a percentage of their future income for many years to come. And for the cost of a single outing to a fast food restaurant once a month, individuals can rest easy knowing that they are protected from a wide range of unforeseen accidents.

As the number of litigations in the U.S. continues to climb, we encourage you to be proactive about protecting your financial future by calling Blais Insurance at 401-725-0070. Our team of agents will be able to answer any questions you have about umbrella coverage, and we can recommend the policy limits that make the most sense for you and your family.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Students with ride-sharing gigs may cause financial uncertainty for their families

Insurance products are available to cover any gaps in coverage.

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Due to the rising costs of tuition and personal expenditures, younger generations have turned to unique opportunities for earning cash such as driving for ride-sharing companies. While a student’s willingness to contribute should be applauded, Blais Insurance urges parents to have a serious conversation with their college-bound student regarding the insurance implications of such an endeavor.    

When parents hear their children have landed a job to help pay for books, they might imagine a traditional part-time job in retail or hospitality. However, thanks to advances in smartphone technology, students lucky enough to have a car are more likely working for Uber or Lyft. According to Fortune, there were nearly 12,000 college students driving for Uber alone when the platform was still growing. Since then, ride-sharing companies have increased their marketing efforts to convince the public that driving with them is the “perfect job” for college students.

Those trends have been concerning for professionals in the insurance industry. This is in large part because insurance experts understand that the more time motorists spend on the road, the more likely they are to be in an accident. Other factors that put students at higher risks for an accident is their inexperience driving during peak travel hours — which ride-sharing companies incentivize.

Parents are often unaware that their kids are driving for ride-sharing companies, as their involvement in the sign-up process is not necessary. Over the course of several months, however, some families in Rhode Island may learn that an accident was not covered by their insurance policy because the driver was using their vehicle for a business purpose. Although ride-sharing platforms provide some form of general liability insurance, young drivers may not understand all the insurance nuances. Oftentimes, some may forgo telling their parents about their job since they falsely believe they are protected under every scenario.

Late last year, I wrote an article about this very topic and the specific scenarios where gaps in coverage may exist. That information is still applicable.

With auto insurance claims easily exceeding thousands of dollars, Blais Insurance wants to make sure your family is completely protected in the event of an accident. As your kids head off to college, we encourage policyholders to have an honest conversation with them about ride-sharing activities and its implications. For more information, speak with one of our agents at 401-725-0070 and we will work with you to develop a customized auto insurance package.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Is Your Contractor Insured?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Summer is a popular time for home-improvement projects. Whether
you’re adding a new bathroom or making small changes in your kitchen, what happens in the case of a contractor’s negligence?

In many instances, the homeowner may opt to hire a friend of the family, or someone you know can get the job done quickly, or at a discounted rate. Before hiring a contractor for any house project, asking for proof of insurance is critical.

If an uninsured worker is injured on the job, or if they cause damage to your property, you could be held liable. Paying the little extra for someone who is insured is always worth it, rather than taking the unnecessary risk of hiring someone uninsured.

Simply taking the contractor’s word that they are insured is not enough. Blais Insurance has some tips to help ensure you get a legitimate worker and that you are covered in any scenario:
  • Obtain a Certificate of Insurance by email or fax, and then call the agency listed to verify its validity
  • Make sure their insurance includes workers’ compensation for their employees as well
  • Visit the State of Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration Board website to check if your contractor is licensed.
  • Check the BBB Business Reviews at
  • Secure a few different bids from various contractors before beginning a job
  • Keep all your records – proof of licensing, insurance, contracts, invoices, proof of payment, photos from before, after, and during, and all project correspondence

If a contractor tries to convince you that insurance is not necessary, do not fall for it. The only one who would end up in trouble in this case would be you. While finding an insured contractor may cost you more time initially, it will be time well spent and could save you thousands down the road. To learn more about how you can protect what matters most to you, call Blais Insurance today at 401-725-0070.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Protect your belongings with Replacement Cost Coverage

Families can rest easy knowing their tech, other goods are fully protected

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

From electronics such as iPads to sentimental jewelry, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that thieves steal roughly $2,300 of valuable goods per home break-in. While it may seem like homeowners do not have any control in protecting themselves, we at Blais Insurance suggests adding replacement cost coverage to help mitigate losses and secure peace of mind.

To understand the value of replacement cost coverage, families would benefit from understanding exactly what homeowners insurance covers following a break-in. After a police report is filed, insurers will assess the extent of losses in a claim.

Once all of the necessary steps are completed, insurance companies send a check by mail to the policyholder. The amount of the check will vary depending on individual policy terms and the amount of recorded losses. It is here where disagreements can sometimes ensue.

Homeowners insurance can help cover some of the losses from theft through dwelling and personal property coverage. Dwelling coverage helps replace the parts of your home that were damaged from the break-in such as covering the cost of a broken window. On the other hand, personal property coverage helps cover the cost of stolen belongings minus depreciation. Insurance companies refer to this ‘qualifier’ in personal property coverage as Actual Cash Value (ACV).

To illustrate how Actual Cash Value works, imagine you own a lightly used MacBook Pro that retailed for $1,600. If the computer was stolen from your home, an insurance appraiser may only value your stolen item at half of the purchase price you paid.  

Replacing the computer then becomes a headache, but it does not have to become burdensome for homeowners. For a few extra dollars a year, homeowners can remove the ‘qualifier’ and have replacement cost coverage. Instead of paying the difference to buy back your device, replacement cost coverage would pay out the total cost to replace your stolen product with the newest model available.

No one expects to be the victim of a burglary, until it happens. Before a loss can occur, Blais Insurance encourages homeowners to strengthen their current insurance policy by adding replacement cost coverage. For more information or to learn how to protect your family from other losses, speak with a Blais Insurance agent at 401-725-0070.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

RI Drivers Must Be Hands-Free by June 1st … Are you prepared?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Beginning June 1st, a new law will take effect in Rhode Island that prohibits drivers from using a hand-held wireless communication device while driving. The goal of the law is to mitigate the growing problem of distracted driving, which has lead to needless deaths and serious injuries.

According to a National Highway Safety Administration report in 2015, distracted driving claimed nearly 3,500 lives with nearly 400,000 people seriously injured in these crashes. Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti Jr. believes this new law will save lives, stating: “Like so many other types of crashes we see, those involving drivers distracted by their cell phones are preventable. We will continue to work with your partners to educate the public about safe driving behaviors.”

This law does not include any provisions for minor drivers, who are already prohibited from using any type of cell phone while driving – including a hands-free option. Please review the below information provided by the RIDOT, which highlights specifics of the new law:

What is not allowed: Driver will not be able to hold a cell phone or other wireless device while operating a vehicle. The use of headphones or other accessories that cover both ears is also not allowed.

What is allowed: Drivers will be able to use in-car or other hands-free systems or accessories, commonly using a wireless technology called Bluetooth.

How does it work: If a police officer observes you holding a phone and talking or texting while driving, you will be pulled over and may be fined up to $100. The offense may be waived for first offenders only by showing proof of purchase of a hands-free device.

At Blais Insurance, we are committed to helping you stay informed on the latest insurance trends. Should you require additional information on how you can safeguard your family, call us today at 725.0070.