Friday, November 22, 2013

What does the Affordable Care Act mean for you?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC
With valuable contributions by Hannah Wojcik of Brewster & Shuster

With all the political rhetoric and confusing amendments to the Affordable Care Act, citizens are becoming bogged down and frustrated.  At Blais Insurance, we work hard to ensure that your customers remain informed on important issues affecting their everyday life and are always available to answer any questions you may have.

In an attempt to clarify the basics of Obamacare, we offer the following information:

What Is Currently in Affect Under the ACA?
  • Young adults are covered under parents' plans until age 26
  • Free coverage is available for preventative services
  • Small business tax credits of up to 50% of employer's contribution towards premiums
  • Enrollment in Rhode Island's health benefit exchange, HealthSource RI, has begun

What is HealthSource RI?
  • A new way that Rhode Islanders and small employers can find and compare health insurance plans, and purchase the coverage that best fits their needs
  • All plans cover essential health benefits (doctors visits, prescriptions, hospital stays)
  • October 2013: Enrollment began
  • January 2014: Coverage takes effect
  • Participating carriers are Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, and Neighborhood Health Plan
  • Only place where small employers can receive tax credits
  • Broker-friendly for existing clients
  • More information is available by visiting or by contacting 1-855-840-4774.

What Will Happen in 2014?
  • The individual mandate will take begin, requiring all US citizens to have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty
  • Exceptions would include individuals with low income, members of certain religious groups, Native Americans
  • In 2014, the penalty will be the greater of $95 or 1% of the individual's taxable income
  • No coverage discrimination will be allowed due to pre-existing conditions or gender
  • Elimination of annual and lifetime coverage limits
  • Small employers, those with less than 50 employees, are not mandated to offer health coverage
  • In 2015, large employers, those with more than 50 employees, will be mandated to offer health coverage to employees or else face substantial penalties

For more information on how health care reform and the ACA will affect YOU or your business personally, please contact Blais Insurance at 725.0070 or Hannah Wojcik of Brewster & Shuster Associates at 401-274-8770 or by email at

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mortgage Payoff Insurance vs. Stand Alone Life Insurance 

Which option is best for you?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC
With valuable contributions by Hannah Wojcik of Brewster & Shuster

At Blais Insurance, we are often asked by customers to help make sense of the many options that are available to protect their loved ones in the future. One of the most common questions is:

Should I buy the mortgage payoff insurance offered with the mortgage? Or, is a stand alone, personal life insurance policy, which can fund a mortgage payoff in the event of my demise, a better option?

While both options may appear to offer similar benefits, there are many ways in which they differ. To see which choice might be best for you, please consider the following:

A typical bank mortgage insurance policy:
  • Is a group policy, therefore you may not receive the most competitive rate
  • Is equal to the outstanding mortgage amount and decreases over time
  • Pays the money directly to the bank, which acts as the beneficiary
  • Can be cancelled by the bank
  • May not list you as the owner of the policy

A typical life insurance policy:
  • Can only be cancelled by you
  • Can be converted to a permanent plan
  • Pays the money out to whomever you designate as a beneficiary
  • Lets you shop for the most competitive plan and price
  • Allows you to choose the amount of coverage and duration of the policy
  • Lists you as the owner

We would be happy to sit down with you to review your options and design a plan customized to your specific needs and budget.  To schedule a complimentary consultation today, please call Blais Insurance at 725.0070.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Insuring Your College Student

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

If you have children away at college, it may be wise to take a second look at what kind of insurance coverage they have for their car and any expensive items they have at school.

Many parents jump at the opportunity to lower their auto insurance rates by taking their child off their auto insurance while they are away at school without their car. However, this may not be the wisest move. Consider the risk if your child borrows a friend’s car while at school. Blais Insurance suggests you leave your college driver on your insurance policy to avoid uncovered liability claims. If you tell your insurer that your child is away at school and does not have access to their car to drive, then your insurer may reduce your rate because your college driver doesn’t have immediate access to the car and is now a lower risk.

Not only should you consider keeping your college student on your auto insurance, but you should also think about all the expensive items such as phones, iPods, laptops, TVs and cameras that accompany most college students to school. If any one of these items were stolen or damaged, it could be very costly to replace it. You have a couple of options when it comes to insuring your child’s belongings. You should review your homeowner’s policy before your son or daughter goes off to college to be sure it extends to coverage for items in your child’s dorm.

If you are interested in discussing these options for your soon-to-be college student, contact Blais Insurance at 401-725-0070 to learn more.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

On behalf of the staff of Blais Insurance, we would like to wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy Fourth of July.

This holiday is always fun-filled, with parades and gatherings to honor the great country we live in. While you’re celebrating with friends and family, please remember to exercise caution. Whether grilling some burgers, splashing in the pool, or lighting fireworks, it is imperative to make safety a top priority.

We also recommend making certain that your insurance policies are fully protecting you as well. For a complimentary policy review, please call Blais Insurance today at 725.0070.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lawn care requires special attention … to safety

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

You take great pride in meticulously maintaining your property, but do you always do so safely?

Thousands of people have been injured by lawn mowers or weed trimmers. In 2008 alone, 247,000 Americans were treated for lawn-mower related injuries.

By taking just a few simple precautions you can ensure your safety and that of those around you.

At Blais Insurance, keeping you and your loved ones safe is our top priority, and we urge you to consider the following when operating lawn equipment:

  • Prior to beginning yard work, be sure to check your property for debris such as sticks, rocks, or anything that might become a projectile 
  • Wear form-fitting clothes – nothing loose that could get sucked into the unit 
  • Always wear protective eye gear and heavy gloves 
  • If debris becomes lodged NEVER ATTEMPT TO REMOVE WITH YOUR HANDS. Turn the unit off and be sure the blade has come to a complete stop. 
  • Never allow passengers on a riding lawn mower 
  • Never pull a push mower towards you 
  • Be sure that children and pets are at a safe distance 
  • Maintain firm footing, and wear proper shoes 
  • Never lift a weed trimmer above your waist 
  • Regularly service your lawn equipment to keep in proper working order 

It is important to note that the liability coverage of your Homeowners, Renters, or Condo policy will provide coverage against your negligence in the event of an accident, to the limit of liability you select.

We recommend that limit be high in today’s litigious society, and it does not cost as much as you think to purchase a higher liability limit. For more information, call Blais Insurance at 725.0070.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spark Up the Grill With Caution

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

The warm weather is just around the corner, and at Blais Insurance we want to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe all season long. Family barbeques are an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors and we offer the following tips to safeguard against accidents:
  • Keep your grill on a safe, level surface away from your home, garage and anywhere children play.
  • Make sure the valve on your gas grill is completely turned off when not in use, and check for possible leaks in the connections. This can be done using a soap and water mix that will bubble if a leak is present. 
  • Prior to grilling, make certain to protect yourself with flame resistant gloves and an apron. 
  • If you are using a charcoal grill use only proper starter fluids – never gasoline – to ignite a flame. 
  • When disposing of coals remember to soak them in water prior to putting them in the trash. 
  • Always keep children and pets at a safe distance – even when the grill is turned off it remains hot for much longer. 

In the unfortunate event that you or someone on your property receives a minor burn while grilling, run cool water over the area for 10 minutes. If the burn is more serious call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.

Ensuring you have the proper levels of insurance is one of the best ways to shield yourself from loss. If you would like more information on keeping your home and property safe from disaster, call Blais Insurance today at 725.0070.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Who needs a personal umbrella policy?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

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, it is your future earning capacity that is the asset that needs to be protected. For anywhere between $150 and $350 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, February 19, 2013

Is your property prepared for more wintry weather?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

The record amount of snowfall we received during the Blizzard of 2013 has left the ground throughout our area saturated. As we all anxiously await the start of Spring, Blais Insurance would like to make certain policyholders are aware of the risk of flooding. Melted snow, coupled with showers and insufficient drainage, could force water to seep into your home.

Homeowners’ insurance policies cover property damage that results from a sudden discharge of water from a home plumbing system or appliance. An example of this would be if a pipe burst in your home. However, many people find out at the time of a loss that water damage resulting from ground water seeping into a basement is never covered so prevention is the proper focus where seepage is concerned. 

Moreover, damage from flooding is only covered under a separate flood insurance policy when a qualified flood event occurs. With the rainy months still ahead of us, homeowners in high-risk flood areas are no longer the only ones who require flood insurance.

Blais Insurance offers premium flood insurance coverage at affordable rates through the National Flood Insurance Program. As we all discovered after the historic flooding in Spring of 2010, flooding can happen anytime, anywhere. There is typically a 30-day waiting period from when the coverage is purchased to when it goes into effect so do not wait for the next, big storm if you are considering flood insurance.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Insuring your leased vehicle

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

When considering purchasing or leasing an automobile, many people are opting for the
convenience of leasing. Though you never actually own the car, it may be ideal for individuals
who wish to consistently have a new vehicle. 

However, whether you lease or purchase your car, you must buy and maintain an auto insurance policy.

As you begin the process of leasing, the leasing company will require you to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage. These coverages are in addition to those required by law, including liability coverage. 

Collision insurance covers damage resulting from an accident with another car or object. To further protect the vehicle, comprehensive provides protection for covered losses other than Collision, such as fire, theft, and even including a deer strike.

It is important to note that some leasing companies may also require Gap insurance, which kicks in if your car is totaled. If your leased vehicle is damaged beyond repair, there will most likely be a “gap” between the amount you will owe the dealer under the lease agreement and the Actual Cash Value of the leased automobile. 

This “gap” primarily occurs because the insurance company provides protection based upon the car’s Actual Cash Value – the difference between the replacement cost of the vehicle, less depreciation. 

There are many specifics regarding Gap insurance, which can vary from dealer to dealer. Moreover, this coverage may be available under your own policy.

If you are considering an automobile lease or purchase, please contact Blais Insurance at 725.0070 and we would welcome the opportunity to review your options to make certain you are fully protected.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

If I rent an apartment, do I need insurance protection?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

The answer to that question is an emphatic yes! Unfortunately, many renters find out the hard way that if their rented space is damaged or destroyed their personal property is not covered unless they have purchased their own renter’s policy to cover their personal property.

Many people are under the false assumption that their landlord’s policy on the building would provide protection for the tenants in the event of a loss. If you rent a house or an apartment, your landlord’s insurance will cover the landlord’s costs associated with repairing or rebuilding in the event of a fire or other disaster, but it would provide no protection for the tenants. 

Renter’s insurance is well worth the small investment, as it would protect you and your belongings in the unfortunate event of a covered loss.

Types of property losses that are normally covered under a well written renter’s insurance policy include: theft, vandalism, fire or smoke, lightning, explosion, windstorm along with specific types of water damage other than ground water seepage - renter’s insurance will not cover any form of ground water seepage or flooding, as this would require a separate flood insurance policy.

A renter’s or tenant’s policy of insurance offers three types of coverage:
  • Liability Protection
  • Personal Possession Protection
  • Additional Living Expenses

The purpose of liability insurance is to protect your assets in the event someone sues you for bodily injury or property damage caused by an insured. Typical limits for this protection that may be purchased range from $100,000 to $500,000. 

Renter’s policies also provide for medical payment coverage in the event someone is injured in your home. Coverage limit options exist for this coverage as well.

When deciding how much coverage you need for your personal possessions, be sure to have an accurate record of your items and their replacement value. It is a good idea to maintain a home inventory of your personal property including but not limited to appliances you may own, furniture, jewelry, electronics, clothing, etc. 

This list should also include purchase values, and remember to keep receipts whenever possible. You should keep this important information at a secure location outside of the apartment so you will not lose it in the event of a total loss to the building. This will make the claims filing process much quicker and easier.

Coverage of additional living expenses is essential if your property becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss. If you need to relocate for some time, this coverage may help to pay for hotel bills, meals and other expenses. 

There is typically a cap on the amount of time this will be covered so make certain you are aware of policy limits and review them with your agent.

We at Blais Insurance would be happy to explain renter’s insurance in greater detail, and show you exactly how inexpensive this investment can be. Call us today at 725.0070 for more information.