Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Welcome to 2017 Hurricane Season

Are you ready for it?
By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

With hurricane season in full swing, your friends at Blais Insurance want you to be prepared for the unexpected.

According to the Weather Channel, the number of hurricanes and tropical storms begins to rise in August, peaking in September; however, there is no way of predicting exactly when these natural disasters will strike. Among the biggest hurricanes the Northeast has experienced, Irene and Katrina arrived in August, Earl in September, and Sandy hit in October just 5 years ago.

To stay safe during the next big hurricane, please consider the following:

Before the Hurricane:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and create a family communications plan.
  • Know your surroundings. 
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property.
  • Consider installing a generator if at all an option, as it would be worth its weight in gold in a power outage.
During the Hurricane:
  • Stay indoors.
  • Don’t walk on beaches, riverbanks or in flood waters.
  • Use flashlights in the dark if the power goes out. Do NOT use candles.
  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
After the Hurricane:

  • Let friends and family know you’re safe - Register yourself as safe on the American Red Cross ‘Safe and Well’ website.
  • If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Continue listening to local news for updated information and instructions.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding.
Flood insurance can mean the difference between recovering and being financially devastated after a hurricane. The damage from just one inch of water can cost more than $20,000.

When purchasing flood insurance be sure to ask your Blais Insurance agent the right questions to know what is and is not covered. Contents inside a building are not covered by a building/structure flood policy. You'll need an additional policy for contents within the building. There is typically a 30 day wait period between when you buy a flood insurance policy and when it goes into effect.

For more information on flood insurance, or if you have any questions about your homeowners’ policy, please call Blais Insurance at 401-725-0070.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Now’s the Time to Upgrade Your Home Heating Systems

 By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

The summer is well underway and for some this means days spent lounging by the pool or soaking in the warm summer sun. If this sounds like you, there may be a better way to use this much needed and long anticipated downtime. When was the last time you updated the heating system in your home? Making sure your systems are up to date and working efficiently have more than one benefit for you and your family. Blais Insurance cares about you and your home and we want to make sure that you know the facts when it comes to your heating systems.

The best way to ensure safety and responsibility when it comes to your home is to be informed. An article published by www.energy.gov outlined the efficiency of boilers and furnaces. We want to make sure that you have all the information you need to replace your old and outdated heating system. Below, we have compiled a list for you to keep in mind:

·      Safety – Safety is our number one priority when it comes to you and your family. Old and outdated heating systems can be dangerous if they are not properly cared for and maintained. Make sure that your current heating system has been inspected properly and is safely functioning within your home.
·      Efficiency – A central furnace or boiler’s efficiency is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). All new furnaces or boilers are required to display their AFUE to make it easier to compare heating efficiencies of the systems. AFUE measures the conversion of energy in the fuel to heat over the course of a year. Old, low efficiency heating systems typically have AFUE’s of 56% to 70%. New systems commonly have AFUE percentages of 90% to 98.5%. Upgrading your heating system may seem daunting, however you could be saving money and resources by making sure that you have the most efficient system.
·      The Future – It’s best to be prepared for anything when it comes to your home. Many insurance policies will not allow clients to change policies unless they have updated heating systems in their homes. Some carriers are also re-inspecting homes that have policies written years ago to review their existing heating systems. When it comes to updating your home systems, it is better to plan ahead; rather than wait for a time when you may be financially or otherwise unprepared.

We hope that these tips regarding your heating systems are helpful as you plan your home maintenance projects. At Blais Insurance, we want to ensure that you are using your time and money in the best way possible. If you would like to learn more about our policies, please give us a call at 401.725.0070.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You don’t have to be a millionaire to be sued like one!

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Have you ever asked yourself … who should purchase an umbrella insurance policy anyway? The answer to that question is anyone who is looking to protect their assets and livelihood, and you won’t believe just how affordable this coverage might be.

A traditional personal umbrella liability insurance policy will respond to refresh the liability coverage limits contained in an underlying homeowners, renters, condo or automobile policy, should the applicable underlying limit be exhausted in connection with a liability claim. In this way, it functions as a shield to protect your home and other assets from the potential claims of people you may injure and/or property you may damage.

In the litigious society we live in today, Blais Insurance recommends that everyone secure a personal umbrella liability insurance policy. While you may think that you don’t have that many assets to protect, and while many people don’t consider it an asset, it just may be that your future earning capacity is the thing that needs to be protected. For anywhere between $150 and $250 annually, you can purchase a $1 million personal umbrella policy.

Insurance companies do require that certain limits be maintained on the underlying homeowners and auto policies before you can purchase umbrella protection. Every case is different and we would be happy to sit down with you and review what coverage options are right for you.

For more information on how a small investment in an umbrella policy could potentially save you thousands down the road, please call Blais Insurance at 725.0070 to review this worthwhile prospect.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tips for Your Spring Family Vacation

Content provided by Selective Insurance

When planning a family vacation you'll want to consider which destination will be perfect for your family. Then, it'll be wise to quickly refresh your knowledge of safety and wellness best practices that will ensure you, your spouse and the kids all have a great time.

Choosing your destination
Various tropical destinations, like the U.S. Virgin Islands and Martinique, will be warm because 
it's not peak season in either place, as Travel + Leisure, a travel publication, explains. U.S. News & World Report, a national news source, also cites the beaches of San Diego, California, and the grand Spanish cities of Madrid and Lisbon as having excellent 60-70 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. 

Cost is also a major factor. Intriguing cities in nations that have seen recent (as of March 2017) currency devaluation, such as Sydney or Buenos Aires, fit the bill here. Also, U.S. News, Travel notes on its website that 
family friendly destinations, like the Bahamas, or Sanibel Island just off the coast of Florida, are great budget vacations.

Tips for keeping it safe and fun
Vacation should be about leisure and enjoyment. But to guarantee that, responsibility, preparation and due diligence are all necessary. Let's take a look at the biggest safety factors you'll need to keep in mind.

Sun safety: It's all fun and games for your kids to be running around gleefully in the sun until hours later when sunburns appear and they're in terrible pain. As such, make sure they apply sunscreen properly. And don't forget to do the same for yourself! HealthyChildren.org, an online resource of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends sunscreen that is 
at least SPF 15 but below SPF 50, as the latter's actual effectiveness is limited. SPF 30 is a happy medium.

Storm and rip current safety: The best way to stay safe when a storm strikes your vacation spot is to avoid going outside. If you do get stuck in a sudden tropical thunderstorm, get out of the water and off the beach immediately. Even if there's only rain, you can never be too careful in these situations.

Rip currents can be extremely dangerous. If you or someone in your family encounters one of these strong currents, swim parallel to shore without moving toward or away from its general direction. If you try to swim out of it, it'll most likely trap you. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration states that rip currents kill 
up to 100 people every year.

General beach and vacation safety: Neither children nor adults should swim alone in unfamiliar waters. You should also avoid beaches or resort pools that aren't being watched over by a trained lifeguard. Even if you trust your own judgment and instincts, you may not know exactly what to do in case of emergencies. HealthyChildren.org also recommends using the touch supervision system - make sure your children are within arm's length of an adult whenever they're swimming.

Also, remember that keeping the rest of your trip safe starts before you leave. Research the place you're going on websites like the 
State Department's travel advisory page and the CIA World Factbook, both of which have comprehensive info on foreign locales – everything ranging from population demographics and languages to histories of their political conflicts.

Once you arrive at your vacation destination, use common sense: Don't let your children go off alone, and consider enlisting the services of a guide when you want to explore areas or neighborhoods you're unfamiliar with. You should use currency rather than credit or debit cards whenever possible and only go on secured networks if using Wi-Fi to avoid the risk of identity theft.

If you have certain valuable items that you must carry with you on this trip, consider having your hotel lock them up in its safe. Most resort facilities have a safe, or safe-deposit boxes, on the premises for this purpose. Some even offer safes in the rooms themselves, but as Travel + Leisure points out, these may be
easier to crack than the hotel’s own safe.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Special things require special insurance – and that doesn’t necessarily mean more money

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Spring fever has officially arrived in Northern Rhode Island, which means many individuals will take to the open road in their classic cars. Before you remove that prized auto from winter storage, Blais Insurance would like to remind you of the importance of protecting your investment.

Through our partnerships with some of the nation’s top-rated car insurance companies, Blais Insurance offers classic car enthusiasts better insurance coverage at reasonable rates. Quite often, to secure classic car coverage, you must have an additional vehicle that you drive primarily. Because of this, we can secure you better coverage for less money than if you insured your classic car on your normal auto policy.

In order to qualify for classic car insurance, your vehicle must meet certain requirements. Some of the basics include:
  • Use of vehicle – Classic cars cannot be utilized on a daily basis. Most policies include mileage restrictions and many require that you maintain another vehicle for everyday use. 
  • Safe Storage – When you’re not driving your car, it must be kept in a secured, locked unit (such as a garage or vehicle storage facility).
  • Good Driving Record – You must have a clean driving record to qualify for classic car insurance. Offenses such as speeding violations, reckless driving or driving while intoxicated can disqualify you from coverage.
  • Classic Car Shows – Given the ‘limited use’ provision for many classic car policies you may want to attain specialized insurance if you plan on traveling for car shows. You wouldn’t want travel restrictions to hamper your ability to enjoy multi-day car show excursions.
At Blais Insurance, we are committed to helping you protect what matters most. For generations, we have helped local families and businesses safeguard their investments and we take that responsibility very seriously.

Whether you require specialty insurance, such as classic car insurance, or a complete homeowner’s insurance package, we have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the process. Call us today at 725.0070 for a complimentary policy review.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Education is key when purchasing auto insurance

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

At Blais Insurance, we understand that each one of our policyholders is unique. The insurance coverage you choose should perfectly match your needs, priorities and budget. As a Trusted Choice® independent agent, we have the knowledge and experience you need, coupled with access to the nation’s top-rated insurance companies, to shop for a policy that is customized to you.

Before purchasing auto insurance, there are several factors you should consider. It’s best to figure out exactly what you want from your auto insurance coverage before you compare policies.

Consider the following questions when you’re getting ready to shop for auto insurance:

1. How Much Do You Love Your Car?

If you truly love your car, then you will want it fixed perfectly—or replaced with the same model—if anything happens to it. That means you will need the widest range of insurance, including collision, comprehensive and glass coverage. However, if your car is older and you want to save on your insurance premium, you might consider purchasing liability insurance only.

2. How Much Do You Drive?

Do you absolutely need your car every day? Do you drive only 100 miles a month or closer to 1,000 or more? It is imperative that your policy reflects how much you drive.

3. Will You Be Using Your Car for Work?

If you use your car for more than just driving to work, and instead perform work tasks, commercial auto insurance is a necessity. A personal auto policy will not provide coverage if you utilize your car for deliveries, transport paying passengers, etc.

4. What Type of Car Do You Drive?

Insurance companies have access to endless data, which is how they arrive at your insurance premium. They know which types of cars, makes and models are more, or less, likely to incur claims. While a fully-loaded sports car may be more likely to be stolen, a mid-size sedan might not be. By the same token, you may receive discounts if your car has the latest safety features and a good safety record. Either way, your risk is reflected in your insurance premium.

5. Where Do You Live?

Where you live will impact your insurance rates. For example, cars parked on the street in urban areas face a greater risk for theft or vandalism, therefore you may want to purchase comprehensive coverage.

6. Who Else Will Be Driving the Car?

Generally, your car insurance will cover other occasional drivers. However, if other drivers live with you and use your car they should be listed on your policy.

7. What Are Your Legal Obligations?

Nearly every state requires that you carry minimum liability coverage for your car. At the very least, you need to make sure your policy complies with state mandates. However, to be safe, Blais Insurance recommends you purchase additional liability coverage. It is important to remember that if you are involved in a serious accident, you may be sued for a large sum of money.

8. Is Your Car Financed or Leased?

If you still owe money on your car or have to return it in good condition when a lease expires, you’ll likely be required to insure the car for its full value. Additionally, you may be required to purchase additional insurance for any gap between what you owe and the car’s market value. Collision and comprehensive will cover damage to your car up to its value, and supplemental gap insurance will cover the rest.

There are several other factors that are considered when purchasing insurance, including your age, gender, driving record, and credit score.

For more information on how you can find high-quality insurance coverage that fits your needs and budget, call Blais Insurance today at 725.0070.

With content provided by the Insurance Information Institute