Friday, December 1, 2017

‘Tis the season to be wary

Christmas tree fires account for nearly $15 million in damages annually

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Families have undoubtedly been reminded at every turn that Santa Claus is coming to town. For generations, this season  has had a profound influence on the sale of pine trees for display in homes despite the immediate risks it can pose to families. As families prepare for the celebrations ahead, Blais Insurance would like to suggest some tree fire precautions to help keep your family safe this holiday. 

While Christmas is a joyous time, small things can be overlooked that can cause severe consequences. Real trees are dangerous as they can be a catalyst for fires, which can spread throughout a room very quickly. In fact, an inferno was captured on video by the National Institute of Standard and Technology that demonstrated how quickly a tree fire can spread. You can watch it here.

Christmas trees have been part of American culture since before people can remember, and Blais Insurance would like to help you continue that tradition while mitigating your risk for a home fire.

Here are some suggestions to reduce the likelihood of a tree fire in your home.

·       Buy a fresh tree with bright green needles that are hard to pluck off. These trees are less likely to catch fire because their needles contain more moisture.

·       To maintain tree freshness and moisture, supply sufficient water into the tree stand every day.

·       Make sure you place your tree at least three feet away from any heat sources such as candles, radiators, heat vents or hot lights. Once a dry tree has caught fire, it can take less than a minute for the tree to be completely engulfed in flames.

·       Before installing any Christmas lights, ensure the bulbs are not loose and are intended for indoor use.

·       Christmas lights should be turned off before going to bed because the speed of a spreading fire can endanger the lives of your family.

·       Remove the tree as soon as the holiday is over. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas trees continue to pose a risk as long as they remain in your home and account for about 37 percent of tree fires in January.

Blais Insurance is committed to protecting your family from all forms of disaster. While Christmas tree fires account for $14.8 million in property damages every year, there is nothing worse than a loss of life.

For more information on how to protect your family, speak with one of our agents by calling 401-725-0070. Until the next time, happy holidays from your friends at Blais Insurance.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Drivers are not adequately protected in ride-sharing accidents

Attention Parents: Do you know what your kids are doing with your car?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

With the widespread adoption of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, many young drivers have found lucrative ways to make more money. Whether it is rush hour, late at night, or some other time that works within their schedule, these drivers have been zipping through traffic for extra cash unbeknownst to their parents. As a direct result, cities across the United States have witnessed an increase in automobile accidents that have placed many young drivers in financial jeopardy.

According to insurance experts, many parents do not even know that their children are working for a ride sharing company. Furthermore, since driving for companies such as Uber or Lyft is considered a business exposure, policyholders may be surprised to learn that coverage can be negated in the event of an accident. 

In an effort to keep your family safe, Blais Insurance has compiled a list of insurance facts related to the ride sharing economy.

  • Many drivers falsely believe that these companies pay for damages in the event of an accident while using the app. What they actually provide is limited liability for very specific scenarios.
  • Most ride sharing companies inform drivers that their personal auto insurance covers gaps in coverage when their policy is not in effect. These statements are inaccurate because most personal auto policies include exclusions that do not cover damages if the insured vehicle was used for business purposes like transporting people or goods for a fee. This means that a personal insurance policy would not cover damages in the event of an accident if the driver was actively looking for a passenger.
  • Many insurance companies have adapted to current market trends, and now offer ride sharing insurance policies in some states. These policies are more affordable than commercial policies, but drivers may choose not to elect either because they do not shop for the more affordable rates.

Navigating through insurance industry trends can be complex, but a Blais Insurance agent can help you find affordable policies that protect your family under any scenario. Before enrolling in a ride share program, speak with a Blais Insurance agent at 401-725-0070 for personalized packages that protect you and your loved ones from any dangers they could face on the road.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Flood Revisited

No Matter Where You Live … You Need Flood Insurance

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

With the tremendous devastation we have all witnessed in Florida, Houston and Puerto Rico, Blais Insurance would like to, once again, remind you to secure proper flood insurance. Whether you live on the coast in Florida, or nowhere near the water in Houston, Texas, your home or business can sustain a catastrophic loss as a result of ground water flooding. Unfortunately, only 10% of claimants had flood insurance in Houston, which is the only coverage that applies to that level of flood damage.

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 Texas, 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. Call Blais Insurance today at 725.0070.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hmmm … Are All Your Liability Exposures Covered?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Many people are surprised to learn that you need liability protection for more than you might think. Do you serve on any committees or boards, volunteer or otherwise?  Even if you are volunteering your time that does not protect you from a potential lawsuit.  One should recognize this and make sure they only participate on boards that safeguard board members with a special coverage designed to protect actions and decisions while acting in that capacity. It’s called "management risk."

When you make management decisions, the liability exposures may be even greater than a slip and fall or vehicular accident. Management risk is the key reason you need coverage for exposures related to directors and officers (D&O), employment practices liability (EPL), and fiduciary liability coverages.

While all three are typically available and often purchased as separate policies, you should also discuss with your agent the possible advantages of a management liability package policy. Such a comprehensive package can offer the convenience of combining D&O, EPL and fiduciary into a single policy, but also may better coordinate the three to minimize otherwise overlapping or counterproductive coverages, exclusions and limitations.

Higher quality management liability packages may also include, at an attractive cost, valuable additional coverage often otherwise overlooked or requiring separate purchases, such as crisis response, employee theft, identity recovery, and security breach insurance.
Contact Blais Insurance at 725.0070 and ask about the availability and advantages of management liability Insurance, either stand-alone or as a package, today.

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 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!, 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.