What You Need To Know About Your Homeowners Insurance

 Home Insurance  Comments Off on What You Need To Know About Your Homeowners Insurance
Jul 192017
 

When the worst case scenario happens to your home, you want to know that you are covered. Here at Soucy Insurance, we value our customers and understand that we’re all on a budget. We work hard to offer premium coverage at a reasonable rate. While we hope you never experience a loss, if you do, we’ve got you covered.

The best way to ensure that you have the best coverage is to educate yourself on the facts. Consumer Reports has outlined some things to keep in mind when you are looking for adequate protection at a reasonable price:

  • You May Be Paying Too Much – Homeowners insurance isn’t as price-competitive as auto insurance, however, you can still save hundreds to thousands of dollars by shopping around.
  • You May Not Be Covered Enough – Based on a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, about 60% of all U.S. homes are underinsured because some homeowners do not realize that a standard policy does not cover everything.
  • Don’t Worry About The Small Claim – The same survey found that 57% of people who filed claims of less than $5,000 saw no premium increase.
  • Animal Damage May Not Be Covered – The larger and more unexpected the animal, the more likely that the damage will be covered. However, your own pets are generally excluded. It’s important to keep this in mind when you are choosing a plan that fits your lifestyle.
  • Your Credit History Will Affect Your Rates – For over 25 years, insurers in 47 states use a credit-based insurance score to help determine homeowner’s insurance premiums. Make sure that you’re getting all of the information about your premium price and cross-checking the price offered with other insurance companies to make sure you have the best deal possible.
  • The Things Most Important To You May Not Be Covered – Anything abnormally pricey, including fine jewelry, art, computers, deluxe digital cameras, etc. will most likely exceed the limits of a standard homeowners insurance policy. For luxury items like these you may want to invest in a separate policy with zero deductible that covers accidental loss.
  • The Hail Loophole – Hail can cause a substantial amount of damage to homes and property, including shattering windows and leaving holes in your home. The standard homeowner’s policy does cover hail. However, any substantial cosmetic damage, such as dented aluminum or awnings, may be excluded.
  • Even If You Rent, You’re Not Off The Hook – Renters still need insurance. Statistically, only 41% of renters buy insurance. Investing in insurance is necessary to protect yourself and your belongings.

We hope that these tips offer you some insight into the important facts about homeowners insurance. If you would like more information about the logistics of our homeowner’s insurance policies, please give us a call at 401.762.2218.

Prepare Your Emergency Kit … Before Storms Hit

 Home Insurance  Comments Off on Prepare Your Emergency Kit … Before Storms Hit
Jul 192017
 

You never know when a natural disaster is going to hit our area — or even just a big storm that knocks out the power for a few days. With hurricane season in full swing, your friends at Soucy Insurance would like to make certain your family is safe no matter what the weather might bring.

That’s why having an emergency kit for you and your family is so important. It’s not hard to put one together, yet there are still many households that would be completely unprepared if they had to evacuate their home for a few days. Or, for that matter, remain in their home without access to running water or electricity.

Below is a list of basic items for your emergency kit, as recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of course, you can add or remove items as needed to meet the specific needs of you and your family.

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
  • A three-day supply of nonperishable food for people and pets. (Note that the Red Cross recommends keeping a two-week supply of food and water on hand at home.)
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlights and extra batteries.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Prescription medications and glasses.
  • Dust masks to filter contaminated air, along with plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a makeshift shelter if necessary.
  • A whistle to signal for help.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • A tool to turn off utilities.
  • A can opener.
  • Local maps.

Additional items that are likely to be useful:

  • Important documents, such as copies of insurance policies, identification and birth certificates, bank account records, etc. Be sure to keep these in a watertight container.
  • Extra cash or traveler’s checks.
  • Warm blankets or sleeping bags for each person in your family.
  • Matches.
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and utensils and paper towels.
  • Paper and pencils.
  • Books and activities to keep kids busy.
  • Emergency reference material, such as a first-aid manual.
  • A complete change of clothing for everyone in the family, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. If you live in a cold climate, you might pack additional clothing and bedding.

Keep in mind, when you need your emergency kit, you really need it. It’s a small investment of time and effort that can have a huge benefit in case of a disaster. And you don’t have to spend your whole day putting it together — spread out the work over a few days and you’ll be prepared in no time.

For more information on keeping your loved ones safe and secure, call Soucy Insurance today at 762.2218.

Holiday Home Security

 Home Insurance, Insurance  Comments Off on Holiday Home Security
Dec 052016
 

shutterstock_92121565Make home safety a priority while you’re away for the holidays

The holidays can be a great time to travel and visit family, hit the slopes or flee to the beach. Regardless of how you spend your time away, you need to ensure your house stays safe while you’re gone.

A house left empty can be an opportunity for burglars, so before you pack your bags, prepare to protect the stuff that’s staying at home.

At Soucy Insurance, we want to make it a little easier for you to get out of town with peace of mind and return to everything you left behind. Below are some pointers for prepping your home before you travel:

Lock it up. Check and double-check that you have locked all the doors and windows.

Check under the mat. If you store an extra key outside your house, remove it.  Instead, give the key to a trusted friend or neighbor in case someone needs to enter in an emergency.

Communicate. Inform a friend or neighbor that you will be away. Ask them to keep an eye on the house, and give them a way to reach you to report any suspicious activity. Also, remember to never communicate your absence on social media.

Forego deliveries. Make sure to stop delivery of packages, newspapers, and anything else that could pile up on your porch. Ask your trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail every other day.

Remove temptations. Do not leave wrapped gifts or expensive electronics visible through windows and doors.

From Soucy Insurance, we wish you, your family (and your home and belongings) a very safe and joyous holiday!

If you are the victim of a theft this holiday season, your homeowners and umbrella policies may offer protection. To know for sure, review your insurance policies with us by calling 762.2218.

Is your home as efficient as it could be?

 Home Insurance, Insurance  Comments Off on Is your home as efficient as it could be?
Nov 082016
 

Drafty windows. Leaky faucets. Dirty air filters.

All are common issues and they’re not only annoying — they also cost you money in decreased energy efficiency and higher utility bills.

Would you like to save $200 to $400 a year on your energy costs? That’s how much the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program estimates that homeowners can save by incorporating technologies to make their homes operate more efficiently.

Of course, helping to protect you and your family is our goal at Soucy Insurance and keeping your home well-maintained usually means your home will be safer as well. Those are goals we all should share. Several of the tips below from the National Association of Home Builders will help you accomplish both.

Complete a home-energy audit

Making your home more efficient can seem like an overwhelming task. But “auditing” your energy efficiency is something you can do yourself, and it’s relatively simple. This will show you where your home loses energy, how efficient your heating and cooling systems are, and ways you can decrease your electricity use. Just inspect the areas listed here and note the problems you find.

Where’s the air? Air commonly “leaks” from homes through gaps around baseboards, electrical outlets and windows or doors. Stopping these drafts can save up to 30 percent of your yearly energy costs. Be sure to check your home’s exterior as well, paying particular attention to areas where two different building materials meet. When you find leaks, seal them with caulk or weather stripping.

Don’t wait … insulate! Check to see if the amount of insulation in the ceiling and walls is sufficient. Your attic door should be insulated and close tightly. For walls, make a small hole in a closet or other inconspicuous place and probe into the wall with a screwdriver — the area should be completely filled with insulation.

Conduct a systems check. Efficient heating and cooling systems can save you frustration as well as money. Make sure ducts and pipes are insulated properly, and have your equipment checked and cleaned by a professional each year. Filters for forced-air furnaces should be replaced as soon as they are dirty, or every 30 to 60 days.

Let there be (efficient) light. Lighting can account for up to 20 percent of your home’s total electricity use, so consider compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs, which last longer and use far less energy than incandescent bulbs.

At Soucy Insurance, our top priority is working with you to protect what matters most. If you would like a review of your homeowners insurance policy to see how you could save even more money, call us today at 762.2218.

Before the wind blows, secure your trees and shrubs

 Home Insurance, Insurance  Comments Off on Before the wind blows, secure your trees and shrubs
Oct 112016
 

shutterstock_294430544The seasons are changing, and we will soon be enjoying the colors of autumn.

Regrettably, fall’s stunning display is often accompanied by some unwelcome weather hazards – namely, wind – that can cause considerable damage to the very trees that produce those beautiful fall leaves.

At Soucy Insurance, we want your yard and home to stay safe throughout the season.  Please review the following tips to ensure you keep your trees and shrubs healthy and avoid destruction that can result when the wind blows.

To protect existing trees

  • Bundle them. Visit a home and garden store and purchase enough landscape fabric and plant ties to cover trees and shrubs vulnerable to the changing weather. Wrap them up for the winter and then unwrap them after spring has sprung.
  • Trim as needed. Proper pruning is essential to ensure trees can withstand winds, so make sure you use correct pruning techniques or hire a professional.
  • Grow appropriate trees. If you have trees that are especially susceptible to wind, consider planting more trees. Experts say to choose trees, like conifers and evergreens, to create a windbreak. As an added bonus, a windbreak placed in correct proximity to a home can reduce energy costs by up to 30 percent. Keep in mind: conifers should be planted at least 20 feet away from a structure, evergreens at least 30 feet away.

When planting new trees

  • Know which way the wind blows.  Pay attention to the wind patterns in your part of Rhode Island through the fall and winter seasons and how they affect your particular lot.  Plant trees in areas where structures, such as your home, garage or shed, can serve to shelter them from the wind.
  • Give them some space. Plant trees far enough away from structures and foundations. A smaller tree should have at least a 10-square-foot space to itself, and a larger tree needs at least 30 square feet.

At Soucy Insurance, we hope these tips will ensure that you and your yard hang tough all season long… even when the wind starts howling. To learn more about safeguarding your home from loss, call us today at 762.2218.

Traveling for the Holidays? Here Are Some Tips to Keep Your Home Safe!

 Home Insurance, Insurance  Comments Off on Traveling for the Holidays? Here Are Some Tips to Keep Your Home Safe!
Dec 072015
 

shutterstock_42738715Before your holiday activities kick into high gear, remember that not everyone is in a giving mood. The rate of home burglaries spikes between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At Soucy Insurance, we want to help keep your home safe all season long. If you are planning to travel, here are five tips to help keep your home as protected as possible.

  1. Ask a Friend to Lend a Hand: Even if you are away, it is important to keep up appearances to fend off prospective burglars. Ask a friend or neighbor to hold your mail, shovel the driveway, etc. To be as safe as possible, we recommend limiting the help to one person.
  1. Keep Your Curtains Consistent: Whether you normally keep your curtains open or closed, keep them the same way before you leave. Notable changes in your curtains can be an easy giveaway to burglars. If you keep any valuable possessions near the windows, place them out of sight before departing.
  1. Unplug Any and All Electronics: Before leaving your home, check each of your rooms to make sure all electronics are unplugged. Not only will this protect your home from power surges, it will also help you save on energy costs. Even though an electronic may be turned off, it could still be using power.
  1. Avoid Posting on Social Media: As a general rule, it is important to be mindful of what you post on social media. Do not post anything that suggests you will be away for an extended period.
  1. Check Home Security Devices: Call your alarm provider to make sure everything is in proper working order. If you own an electric fence, make sure nothing is near it that would create a false alarm.

Soucy Insurance wishes your family a safe and happy holiday. For additional information, please contact us at 401.762.2218.

Information for this article provided by: Keep Your Home Safe on Vacation: 9 Essential Tips (Independenttraveler.com), Home Safety Tips for the Holidays (Liberty Mutual).

The Importance of Buying Locally This Season

 Auto Insurance, Home Insurance, Insurance  Comments Off on The Importance of Buying Locally This Season
Dec 032015
 

BUYLOCALWith the holidays in full swing, purchasing gifts are on the top of everyone’s to-do list. Although large chain stores may be the most convenient and affordable locations for many people, they are not always the most beneficial for a local community. It is no secret that small businesses struggle to keep up with these big chains during the holidays, and in many cases, local businesses close their shops permanently because they simply cannot compete.

Though “Small Business Saturday” has passed, Soucy Insurance would like to reiterate the importance of shopping locally. One of the main benefits is that it helps stimulate the local economy. According to a recent study, local businesses generate 70% more local economic activity per square foot compared to big businesses. This local activity creates an annual return, which would normally be a deficit for a big business in identical conditions.

During the holiday season, many chain stores hire new employees to keep-up with demand. However, these are only temporary positions, and chains will displace these employees at the conclusion of the holidays. Oftentimes, this pattern leads to a tax increase to keep up with new service rates. By supporting local employees, you are not only keeping them busy but also keeping them secure.

Beyond the economic benefits, buying locally also means you are helping to improve the environment. The additional shipping and production that comes with the holiday season results in an increase of pollution output. In fact, approximately half of all pollution is caused by industry and big business.

Shopping locally is a great way to give back to your community. Local businesses are the livelihood of a community and help make each region unique. Before you start getting your gifts in order, Soucy Insurance encourages you to consider shopping locally. A little thought can go a long way towards bettering your community.

Information for this article provided by: The Benefits of Shopping and Buying Locally (AMIBA.net), Why Buying Local Is worth Every Cent (HuffingtonPost.com)

Trick-Or-Treat Safety Tips

 Auto Insurance, Home Insurance, Insurance  Comments Off on Trick-Or-Treat Safety Tips
Oct 282015
 

shutterstock_213180418Halloween is a time of year that’s fun, and frightening, for all ages. Dressing up as your favorite character and visiting neighbors for candies and treats can be exciting for children, but nerve-wracking for parents. Just days away from the spooky holiday, here are a few tips to make sure your family’s Halloween is full of more treats than tricks:

  • Make sure your children’s costumes are trick-or-treat ready. Bright and reflective costumes are easier for drivers to see. Shoes should fit well to prevent tripping. Hats should fit properly so that they cannot slide over their eyes. Using non-toxic makeup could be better than a mask, as masks can block or limit eyesight.
  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., so be especially alert for kids during those hours.
  • Have children carry flashlights so they are more visible to automobiles.
  • Plan for children to go out with a group and/or an adult chaperone. Remind them to never go inside a stranger’s house.
  • Only visit houses with their front lights on, which indicates trick-or-treaters are welcome.
  • Stay in well-lit areas, on sidewalks and out of the road. Plan routes accordingly to avoid having to cross streets frequently.
  • Don’t cut across yards, as there may be unknown obstacles in the dark.
  • Before eating treats, sort and check them at home. Although tampering with treats is rare, adults should check for items that may be open, spoiled, or inappropriate for children (such as anything that could trigger an allergic reaction).

Once the candy sorting is complete and your little ghosts or goblins are asleep, remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms when you change your clocks. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. on November 1st this year, right after the conclusion of the holiday. We hope you have a wonderful and spooky Halloween weekend!

 

Information for this article provided by: Halloween, Quick Tips to Make Halloween Safer for Children

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

 Home Insurance  Comments Off on Hurricane Preparedness Tips
Jul 292015
 

shutterstock_205297105Hurricane season is already upon us, and its strongest point has yet to arrive. Hurricanes approaching our area undergo an extensive transition. This results in an increase in the storm’s energy, which can cause significant damage to homes, vehicles and businesses. Although hurricanes are not common in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, it is important to be prepared in the event that they do occur.

As hurricane season peaks during August and September, we at Soucy Insurance want you to be prepared. We have listed some emergency preparedness tips that will keep you and your family safe in the event of a storm.

1. Prepare your home prior to knowing a storm is approaching – Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant. Additionally, you should:

  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.

2. Build an emergency supply kit – This should include the following items:

  • Water (one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days) for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Cell phone with chargers 

3. Be alert for the “eye” of the storm – It may seem like the storm is over, but after the eye passes, the winds will change direction and quickly return to hurricane force.

4. Be aware of flooding following the storm – Hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall. Floods will often cause some of the most destructive results.

Most areas in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts are marked with low-to-moderate levels for flood risk.  However, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), almost 25% of all flood insurance claims arise from these areas. Be sure to take the necessary precautions this hurricane season. Call Soucy Insurance today at (401) 762-2218 to protect all that matters to you most.

 

Renter’s Insurance is a Smart Investment

 Home Insurance, Insurance  Comments Off on Renter’s Insurance is a Smart Investment
Jun 172015
 

Many find out the hard way how important it is to have a renter’s insurance policy. Although many think that damage to personal property or possessions is covered by a landlord’s insurance, this is not entirely true.

Your landlords’ insurance will cover damage to the structure of the property. However, their policy will not cover the costs to replace your personal items. Individual renter’s insurance generally covers personal items that are lost due to fire, wind, theft, vandalism and, in some instances, water damage. In addition, if your home is uninhabitable due to damages, renter’s insurance will pay for your temporary living expenses until you are able to move back in.

Some policies also offer liability insurance, which covers you if a visitor is injured in your home. For instance, if someone trips and is seriously hurt, you could be found responsible for the accident. Your renter’s insurance liability coverage can help pay for your legal expenses, as well as their medical bills and other damages.

When choosing the right amount and type of coverage you need, creating a thorough home inventory will help to determine the terms of your policy. Additionally, a detailed inventory will come in handy if you ever need to submit a claim and describe the items that were destroyed.

Additional Types of Renter’s Insurance:

Full replacement cost coverage: Standard insurance policies only pay you the actual cash value of your loss – the price you paid minus depreciation. Replacement cost coverage compensates you for what it actually costs to replace damaged items, even if it is more than you originally paid.

Personal property endorsement: Standard insurance policies limit the amount they will pay out for specific items, like jewelry, artwork, and other collectibles. This is when having additional coverage such as through a personal property endorsement may be beneficial.

More than half of renters without a policy believe they cannot afford renter’s insurance. However, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average cost of a renter’s insurance policy is about $15 per month and can cost even less if bundled with other policies.

If you have questions about renter’s insurance, or would like to discuss adding this type of coverage, call Soucy Insurance today at 762.2218.

 

Information for this article provided by: Why You Can’t Afford to Skip Renters Insurance, What is Renters Insurance, What is Renters Insurance and Is It Worth It?