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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Keeping your options open: An Independent agent offers you choices

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

At Blais Insurance, we are a third generation, family-owned business, and we understand the great responsibility that comes with protecting what matters most to our policyholders.

We care about this community and our neighbors, because it is the where we have raised our families and maintain our business. When considering where you should purchase your insurance consider the benefits of working with a local, independent insurance agent.

When working with a direct insurance writer, one employed by the insurance company, or a captive agent, one required to write exclusively with one company, your choices are limited to only one insurance company. Therefore, if the unexpected should occur, and your rates skyrocket, your insurance company could not respond to your benefit. Your options are limited and this could cost you dearly.

Having been in business for over 100 years, Blais Insurance has access to the best insurance companies in the country. This means we can shop for the insurance coverage that works for your specific needs and budget. We offer choice, where the direct insurance writer and captive agent cannot. Additionally, we offer the following benefits:
  • Rest assured knowing your insurance is being managed by a licensed, trusted insurance professional. Independent agents must be licensed, insured and adhere to all state regulations. In addition, we must meet educational and accreditation standards.
  • An agent knows his/her marketplace and can advise accordingly. We can personally visit your home or business to assess need. We can review pertinent paperwork, and understand all state and local laws. In addition, we are your best source for best practices to avoid claims.
  • Should you have a claim, your agent is there for you. While independent agents work hard to help policyholders avoid claims entirely, if you do have a claim an agent will fight on your behalf and keep you informed regarding claim status.
  • Agents bring value to the insurance-buying process. Independent insurance agents have access to many companies and will work with you to design a customized policy, tailored to your personal or business insurance’ needs. If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding your insurance coverage we urge you to call or stop by our offices for a coffee and a chat. Our staff is always available and eager to assist you however we can.
To schedule a policy review, please call our office today at 725.0070.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Don’t Become a Victim of Fraud

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

While the Northeast was spared the wrath of Hurricane Matthew, our neighbors down South were not as lucky. Many are still struggling to bounce-back from the damage and, unfortunately, several news stories have surfaced depicting how many have become victims of fraud.

In the event of a natural disaster, trusted and qualified contractors are often hard to come by. This leaves the door open to scams by less-than-reputable individuals. In an effort to make sure you and your family are protected from scam artists, Blais Insurance would like to provide you with the following tips to keep in mind:
  • Be suspicious of anyone knocking on your door, offering a fast and cheap repair
  • Do your best to attain at least three written estimates for your job
  • Check with the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation ( to verify the contractor is licensed and in good standing
  • Request proof of insurance and a current copy of their policy
  • Establish a written contract that dictates the entire scope of the project in detail
  • Never pay the full cost of repairs up-front
  • Visit the Better Business Bureau website ( to make sure there are not any complaints against the contractor or the company
  • Only pay for the project once it is completed to your satisfaction
Before any work is begun on your home, we remind you to call Blais Insurance at 725.0070 to make sure the work is completed and covered according to your homeowner’s policy. We are committed to helping you protect what matters most, and would be happy to review your current policy to ensure it provides the insurance coverage you need.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Blais Insurance Offers Premium Flood Insurance Coverage

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

With the recent thunderstorms we’ve experienced over the past few weeks, you may have noticed some minor street flooding.  As we all anxiously await the arrival of fall, Blais Insurance would like to make certain policyholders are aware that severe storm conditions could lead to home flooding. Excessive rain has to go somewhere, and poor drainage could force that 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 under this policy. As a result, prevention becomes a 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 possibility of more rainstorms 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 a reminder, there is typically a 30-day waiting period from when the coverage is purchased to when it goes into effect. At Blais Insurance, our business is protecting what matters to you, and our experience will help you make certain that you are fully protected. As a local, independent agency, we can personally visit your home or business to assess need and we can help you understand local laws.

If you require any additional information, please feel free to call our office at 401.725.0070.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Remember to Insure your College Student Before the School Year Begins

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

The college school year is just around the corner, which means there is a lot on your to-do list to help prepare your child for success. In addition to purchasing the necessities such as clothing and books, don’t forget to do the most important task: insuring all of their belongings.

College students own a long list of expensive items – computers, printers, iPods, TVs, etc.  The overall value of all their items can add up pretty quickly. But living in a dorm or university community allows for ample opportunities for theft or damage. According to a survey conducted by the Independent Insurance Agents of America, Inc., (IIAA) more than 100,000 property crimes on college campuses are reported to police each year, and thieves steal an average of $1,250 in student property per theft.

At Blais Insurance, we want to inform you of two insurance options available to you to protect your student for the upcoming school year:

1.  Utilize Your Homeowners Policy: If your child lives in a dorm or other college-owned property, their possessions may be covered against loss, theft, and damage under your homeowners policy.
2.  Renters Insurance: If your child does not live in college-owned housing, your homeowner’s policy may not provide coverage. Fortunately, however, there is the inexpensive option to purchase a renter’s insurance policy to cover his or her belongings.  Similar to homeowners insurance, these types of policies are available in two basic forms:   a renters policy can provide the student with valuable coverage for the tools necessary for their academic success.  And much like a homeowners policy, many endorsements are available to particularize the coverage that your student may actually require.

Protecting what matters most to you is our biggest priority at Blais Insurance, and we know that the safety of your children is your number one concern. Before your child settles into their college residence, call us at 769-9500 to discuss your options. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Blais Insurance would like to share with you the following consumer alert from the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Department of Business Regulation 
Insurance Division 
1511 Pontiac Avenue, Bldg. 69-2
 Cranston, Rhode Island 02920 

Consumer Alert 2016-4
 Disaster Preparedness: 
Act Now to Make Filing a Claim Easier After the Storm 

Spring and summer can bring all kinds of potentially damaging weather. This spring has already been a destructive season for natural disasters, and June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season. Knowing what to do before and after a storm can help protect your family and your property. Now is the time to take several simple steps that could make filing an insurance claim after a storm easier. The Rhode Island Insurance Division and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offer these tips to help protect your family and your investments:

It's Not Too Late to Create a Home Inventory:

  • To make the claims process easier, it's imperative to have a complete list of the belongings in your home. An inventory should include all of the vital information about your belongings (brand name, price, date of purchase, model, serial number and receipts) and should be accompanied by photos of the items. There are several simple ways to start building a home inventory. You can download a home inventory spreadsheet that will help get you started. If you are using an electronic or paper spreadsheet, remember to take pictures of your belongings, and save them in the same place as the home inventory.
  • You can download the free smartphone app that can help you easily create a database of the records. The app is available for iPhone and Android. A simple-to-use printable home inventory checklist is also available. The app will guide you through capturing images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then storing them electronically for safekeeping. The app even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.
  • Once you have completed the home inventory, talk with your agent or company to make sure your homeowners or renter's policy is adequate to cover your new investments.
  • If you don't have time to create a comprehensive list of the items in your home, then quickly videotape and/or photograph every room. The more detail you include, the easier it will be for your insurance company to evaluate your loss. When making your list, make sure to open drawers and closets, and don't forget to take stock of what's in your garage and storage buildings. 
  • Once you have made your inventory, or taken photographs of your home, email the information to family or friends living out of the hurricane threat or your insurance agent. 
Collect Your Insurance Information

  • Store copies of your insurance policies with your home inventory. Make sure to have a copy of your policy declarations page listing all of your coverages, as well as your insurance cards. 
  • It's also important to have 24-hour contact details for your insurance agent and insurance company. Make a list that includes your policy numbers, your insurance company and insurance agent's phone numbers, website addresses and mailing addresses. Also, check to see if the company or your agent has set up an emergency information hotline. It is a good idea to store this information, and your home inventory, in a waterproof, fireproof box or safe. If you evacuate your home, don't forget to take this information with you.
  • Before a storm hits, review your insurance policies to determine if you have adequate coverage. More expensive items like jewelry, electronics or collectibles may exceed the limits of your coverage and require an additional policy. Understanding your policy will also help you plan for any out-of-pocket expenses you may incur if your home is damaged, such as paying your deductible or for temporary living expenses. Be sure you understand the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation. It is important to insure your home for at least 80 percent of its replacement value. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home after depreciation. The NAIC's Consumers Guide to Homeowners Insurance offers more information about homeowners policies. 
  • NOTE! Flood damage is NOT covered by a standard homeowners or renter's insurance policy. If you have a separate flood insurance policy, remember to include a copy of the policy and the contact details for the insurance company on your list. Be aware that there is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy is effective. For additional information on flood insurance and knowing your flood risk, please see Consumer Alert 2016-2, or you may contact your insurance agent, or the NFIP at 1.800.638.6620, or visit 
 Prepare for the Worst 

  • There are steps you can take to help mitigate some of the damage caused by a hurricane or tropical storm. If your home is equipped with storm shutters, make sure you can quickly put them in place. Clear your yard of debris that could become projectiles in high winds and trim dead or overhanging branches from trees surrounding your home. It's also a good time to make a quick review of your home to make sure the roof sheathing is properly secured, that end gables are securely fastened to the roof, and that doors and garage doors are latched properly.
  • Develop an emergency plan that will prepare you in case you need to evacuate your home or take shelter. The safest place to take shelter during a tornado is in a basement, but if you do not have a basement, an interior bathroom or closet without windows is the next best option. Keep thick blankets or sleeping bags nearby to protect you from debris. The National Weather Service has a brochure with more information about preparing for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and floods. Review your emergency plans with your family so that you are ready before the storm hits, and don't forget to include pets.
  • If you must evacuate your home, turn off all utilities and disconnect appliances to reduce the chance of additional damage and electrical shock when utilities are restored.
  • You should also create a disaster kit. A basic disaster kit includes drinking water, non-perishable food, prescription drugs, flashlights and chargers for cell phones, among other items. Make copies of any personal documents - including your insurance information - and store them in a waterproof container. The Red Cross and have more suggestions for putting together a disaster kit.
 After the Storm
  • The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but it is important that you focus on filing your insurance claim(s) as quickly as possible to help protect your financial future.
  • The first step to getting your home restored is to contact your insurance company and/or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage before clean-up or repairs. It is important to have an accurate account of any damage. After you've documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). DO NOT have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses. 
  • Cooperate fully with the insurance company. Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurance company and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls or visits and contact details.
  • Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information may cause a delay in processing your claim. 
  • If the first offer made by the insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If there is a disagreement about the claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently. If you believe you are being treated unfairly, or if the delay is unreasonable, contact the Rhode Island Insurance Division at 401-462-9520 or email at for assistance. You may also file a complaint online with the RI Insurance Division by clicking here.
  • Even after settling your claim, if you think of items that were not in your initial loss list, contact your insurance company. Unless the company has paid the entire limit for the coverage of those types of items, it is possible the company will make an additional payment.
  • If your damages exceed the amount of your coverage, federal agencies will occasionally provide grants or low-interest loans to assist with recovery following major disasters. Check with the State of Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency at 401- 946-9996 for additional information. Protect Yourself from Home Repair Fraud 
  • Home repair fraud increases exponentially following a major storm. Protect your investment by getting more than one bid from contractors and requesting at least three references.
  • When choosing a contractor to make repairs, check licensing and references before hiring. You may contact the Contractor’s Registration Board at 401-222-1269 or for status of contractors. Always insist on a written estimate before repairs begin and do not sign any contracts before the insurance company’s adjuster has examined the damage. In some cases the adjuster will want to see the estimate before you begin making repairs.
  • Do not pay a contractor the full amount up front or sign over your insurance settlement payment. A contractor should expect to be paid a percentage when the contract is signed and the remainder when the work is completed. 
  • If the contractor finds hidden damage that was not discovered in the original assessment by the adjuster, contact your insurance company to resolve the difference. For any disagreements that cannot be resolved, contact your state insurance department about your recourse
More Information 
  • Get educated about your insurance choices. For more information about homeowners or renter's insurance and the basic coverages in a policy, go to and choose the life stage that best fits your life situation or download the NAIC Consumer's Guide to Home Insurance.
  • Take the time now, before a major purchase or life change, to fully protect yourself from the unexpected. The Rhode Island Insurance Division and the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s offer Get Ready resources to help consumers do just that. 
  • Don’t be a victim of insurance fraud! Before you sign a contract, write a check or give out personal information, STOP. CALL the Rhode Island Insurance Division at 401-462-9520 or email and CONFIRM that the agent, adjuster, appraiser, and/or company you are working with are licensed to do business in RI. You may also file a complaint online with the RI Insurance Division by clicking here.
About the RI Insurance Division

The mission of the Rhode Island Insurance Division is to assist, educate and protect Rhode Islanders through the implementation and enforcement of state laws mandating regulation and licensing of the regulated industries while recognizing the need to foster a sound business environment in the state. We are also committed to treating everyone who comes before us fairly, efficiently and with respect. Please visit our website to obtain additional consumer information and alerts issued by the Rhode Island Insurance Division, or you may contact us at 401-462-9520 or email for assistance.

About the NAIC 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer review, and coordinate their regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally. NAIC members, together with the central resources of the NAIC, form the national system of state-based insurance regulation in the U.S. For consumer information, visit

Elizabeth Kelleher Dwyer 
Superintendent of Insurance 
June 3, 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Blais Insurance Offers a Variety of Auto Insurance Policy Features

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

With the warm weather upon us, there’s no better time to make sure you protect the investment you’ve made in your auto vehicle. At Blais Insurance, we design each of our auto insurance policies to provide you with peace of mind on the open road. We offer a comprehensive line of auto insurance policies at competitive prices to match your specific needs. Although cases vary slightly depending on your situation, our experienced insurance agents will offer you the best coverage at a competitive rate. Whatever your insurance needs are, we have the insurance company for you.

A standard auto insurance policy from Blais Insurance may include any of the following features:
  • Immediate coverage
  • Convenient payment plans
  • Discounts for remaining claim-free for specified periods of time
  • Driver training discounts
  • Good student discount
  • Driving safety courses
In addition, Blais Insurance offers additional credit options such as package policy discounts that can be made available to our customers. Whether it’s your first time purchasing auto insurance or are looking for a new provider, our auto policies are for all drivers.

 To find out more information or to see if you are currently eligible for any discounts, visit or call 401-725-0070.

*Information for this blog provided by the Insurance Information Institute (III)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Protect Your Home from Spring Storm Damages

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

The arrival of spring means that it is time to prepare for season-related weather such as thunderstorms and tornadoes. Last year, severe spring weather caused over 10 billion dollars worth of property damage.  As we begin to transition into the new season, Blais Insurance would like to take this opportunity to provide information that can help safeguard your property from damage.

The best way to avoid weather damage is to prepare. Your roof is one of the first parts of your home that should be attended to. In the event of severe weather, here are some tips designed to keep roof damage minimal:
  •      Have your roof inspected by a certified professional and make any repairs that are recommended.
  •       If you live in an area susceptible to hailstorms, ask about obtaining a higher impact resistance rating.
  •       If you discover any holes or other abnormalities, have them sealed or replaced immediately.

In the event of a storm, personal safety should be your number one priority. Review your community’s evacuation procedure and assemble an emergency supply kit in case you lose power. If you must move to a safer location, do so in an orderly fashion. If you cannot move, relocate your family to the basement or lowest level possible. Regardless of the type of severe weather, make sure you keep away from windows, doors and outside walls.

When preparing for severe weather this spring, remember that it can prove costly if you are not prepared. Blais Insurance can work with you to make sure your largest investment is protected.  To find out more, we encourage you to call us at 401-725-0070 or visit

*For additional information about emergency evacuations and supply kits, please visit

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Clean Your Gutters Before You Clear Your Savings

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Dirty and clogged gutters pose a serious risk of potential damage to your home. The winter evil to be avoided from clogged gutters is that they could contribute to the dreaded ice dams. For this reason, Blais Insurance recommends that you clean your gutters at least a few times a year. Considering that spring is just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get to work. Regular cleaning and inspection of your gutters could mean the difference between paying just a few dollars in repairs to paying thousands.

Before you begin, here are some supplies that you will need:
  • Ladder
  • Gloves
  • Bucket or Trash Bag
  • Garden Hose/Nozzle 
  • Safety Goggles
  • Small Brush or Trowel 
Once you have your supplies, here are some steps that you can take to properly clean out your gutters:
  1. For your own personal safety, use a ladder while cleaning the upper portion of your gutters. Do not attempt to clean your gutters from the roof. 
  2. The first gutter you should clean is the one closest to the downspout. Clean out all of the debris (sticks, leaves, twigs, etc.) and place it into a bucket for future disposal. 
  3. If you cannot reach everything, use a hose to flush out the gutters. If it proves somewhat difficult, use a small brush/trowel along with a steady water flow.
  4. Repair any leaks in your gutters. Use sealant if you have it or consult a professional if you have fiberglass or aluminum gutters.
In the event of any damage as a result of gutter leakage, it is important to have the right coverage. Blais Insurance has a variety of home insurance plans to match your specific needs. To make sure you are properly covered, call us today at 401-725-0070 or visit us at

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to Keep Your Home Safe and Warm This Winter

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Winter weather provides several potential hazards for homeowners. During the winter months, it is important to keep your home properly heated. To minimize the risk of heating hazards, Blais Insurance would like to provide the following safety tips. Whether you use a fireplace, a portable space heater, or a whole heating system, it is important to be safe when heating your home.

Here are some precautions to take if you use a fireplace to heat your home:
  • Have your chimney inspected and properly cleaned. Excess buildup can damage your chimney if a fire is lit without being properly cleaned. 
  • Have a chimney cap installed to prevent precipitation from falling down your chimney. This will also reduce downdrafts. 
  • Only burn dry, cured wood. Remember to slowly build your fire from the ground up. 
  • Never put flammable liquids or trash/debris into your fireplace. These materials can cause intense flames and potentially toxic smoke. 
  • Use a fireplace screen when the fire is not being tended to. This will prevent embers and ashes from entering the room. 
If you use a space or portable heating system, remember to keep the following in mind:
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Place your heating system at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire. 
  • Do not use heaters as a means to dry clothing because it could catch fire. 
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly. 
In case of fire damage to your home, it is important to have coverage. Our homeowners’ policies protect you in all the basic areas but allow for room to add on specific coverages, tailoring the policy to your needs. Visit us at for more information.

*Information for this article provided by the National Fire Protection Association