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!, 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. 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

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Preventing Frozen Pipes

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Extremely cold temperatures are officially upon us and with that comes the increased threat of frozen pipes. At Blais Insurance, we are committed to helping you safeguard your largest investment from a potential loss. Frozen and burst pipes can cause extensive water damage to the interior of your home.

To help you prevent frozen or burst pipes in your home, please read the following tips, provided by our friends at MAPFRE Insurance, to help you do everything possible to prevent your pipes from freezing this season.

How to determine if you have a frozen pipe:
  • Turn on each water supply faucet (both hot and cold) to ensure that there is a steady stream of water. 
  • If the flow of water is slowed or there is no flow, then it is likely that your pipe has frozen. 
What to do if you have a frozen pipe:
  • Identify the blockage (probably the area of most exposure) and use a blow dryer (do NOT use an open flame torch!) to heat the supply line, while leaving the faucet open. 
  • Continue heating the pipe until there is a steady flow of water.
Tips for keeping your pipes from freezing:
  • Insulate all accessible pipes using pipe insulation (this can be found at your local hardware store).
  • Seal all cracks, holes, and other openings on the exterior walls with caulk or insulation.
  • If the temperature drops lower than usual and you have pipes in cabinets or closets, leave the cabinet/closet doors open or use a fan to increase warm air circulation around the pipes.
  • Pay close attention to local weather reports and prepare for extreme cold weather.
  • When extreme cold weather is predicted, let all faucets drip to prevent freezing of the water inside the pipe, and if freezing does occur, to relieve pressure buildup in the pipes between the ice blockage and the faucet. The pressure buildup is the actual cause of bursting pipes.
  • Shut off the water supply during periods when the home may be unoccupied, particularly when cold weather is expected.
For more information on how you can protect your home, please call Blais Insurance at 725.0070.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Protect Your Family From the Silent Killer

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

With the start of the new year, Blais Insurance would like to remind you of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. All too often, we hear stories in the news of countless lives that could have been spared if the building had properly working carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide. At Blais Insurance, our top priority is keeping you and your loved ones protected. To safeguard your family, please read the following tips provided by the National Fire Protection Association:
  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.
Blais Insurance would also like to remind you that now is the perfect time to review your current insurance policies to ensure they are providing the amount of coverage you need. To schedule a policy review, please call 725.0070.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Preventing Fraud this Holiday Season

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Shopping for the holidays brings an increased risk of credit card fraud and identity theft, as hackers and other online criminals have much easier access to an abundance of transactions.  As credit cards become more prevalent than carrying money, it’s important to practice safety measures to prevent these types of instances. 
Protect yourself and your finances this season by following these tips to ensure you have a safe and worry-free holiday:

1. Avoid lending out your card: Never leave your credit cards, receipts, or statements around your home or office. When you no longer need them, shred them before throwing them away.

2. Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable. If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews or complaints.

3. Carry your cards separately from your wallet. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. And carry only the card you need for that outing.

4. Save your receipts so that you can later compare them with your statement.

5. Open your bills promptly or check them online often and reconcile them with the purchases you’ve made.

6. Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.

7. Notify your bank if your address changes or if you plan to be traveling.

8. If you are avoiding the malls and shopping online, only order on secure web sites - To ensure your information is protected look for an unbroken key or padlock at the bottom of your web browser.

9. Beware of one of the newer credit card fraud scams known as "skimming" - Keep a close eye on your card while your purchases are being processed so that it is not swiped through alternative devices.

10. Protect your credit cards - Sign your card, and write that a merchant must "check ID" on the back of the card.

Though fraud and identity theft aren’t 100% percent avoidable, following these precautionary measures can help to lower your risk and prevent financial headaches this season.  If you do notice any suspicious activity, be sure to contact your provider immediately.  From all of us at Blais Insurance, we wish you a safe and wonderful holiday season.