800 222 8711 Contact Us Join Mail List Secure Mail Submit a Claim
Search magnifying glass icon

The Murphy Insurance Blog

rss

News, updates and useful tips about insurance products and the insurance industry. We also provide insights on community events, local news and information that affect your everyday life. Enjoy!

flood insurance

If you are selling or buying a home, be aware of changes the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and flood insurance rates that began on April 1, 2015.  The changes to rate structures have significant impacts to property owners/buyers especially those with properties currently in a flood zone or properties newly mapped into a Special Flood Hazard Area with the redrawing of flood maps.

issues for sellers & buyers

Is the property in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)? 

Lenders require property owners within a SFHA zone to carry flood insurance. 

  • If a mortgage exists on the property, the property owner will be aware of the flood insurance requirement.  However, with redrawing of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), properties that were previously not in a flood zone could find that they are now in a zone that would require flood insurance to obtain a loan. 
  • If there is no mortgage on a property, the owner may not be aware of the SFHA zone status of the property. Knowing a property’s SHFA status and flood insurance requirements upfront is important to avoid surprises that could bring a sales negotiation to a grinding halt.

Sellers can assign an existing flood insurance policy to a new buyer.  

flood insuranceThis is beneficial to the buyer because the existing policy history will transfer to the new buyer as well.  

  • If your current flood zone is being grandfathered, the buyer is able to take advantage of that as well. This can make flood insurance more affordable compared to buying a new policy.
  • If the SFHA zone has changed due to a redrawing of maps, NFIP will not change the flood zone if there has been continuous coverage.  Depending on the bank, sometimes they will not recognize this and force the policy rating to be changed.
  • Requests to assign a flood policy to a new buyer must be signed and submitted prior to the closing date.  Refunds are not issued from the flood carrier.  You can calculate what the estimated refund would be and handle it at closing.
  • If you are selling your home and believe map changes coming soon, it may be beneficial to buy a flood policy now and lock in at the preferred risk zone.

Elevation Certificates are required to purchase flood insurance when a property is in a SFHA zone and has Post-FIRM construction.  

  • Elevation Certificates are usually prepared by a land surveyor or engineer hired by the property owner or potential property owner.  It determines the relation between the house and the base flood elevation (BFE). 
  • ‘Post-FIRM’ construction’ is when a home was first built or substantially improved AFTER the community joined the regular flood program.  ‘Pre-FIRM’ is construction before  a community joined the flood program and their first FIRMs became effective.
  • If your home is built ‘Pre-FIRM’, you do not need an elevation certificate to purchase flood insurance regardless of the zone you are in.  
  • If a property is in B, C, or X zones, an elevation certificate is not required regardless of Pre-FIRM or Post-FIRM status 
  • Even if not required, an elevation certificate can help to reduce insurance cost.  The rate with elevation data may be less than the published rate.
  • Flood Zones can be obtained from Community Officials or Insurance Agents.  There is a Flood Risk Profile on floodsmart.gov that will give you a range of flood insurance premiums for your property.
  • See if your community is on the Flood Map Update Schedule, which could change a properties flood zone. 

Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA)

If your property has been mapped into a high risk flood zone but you do not agree, you may submit an application to FEMA for formal determination of the property’s location and/or elevation relative to the SFHA.  

  • This submission can be done online.  
  • Information needed includes location, legal description, use of fill and possibly elevation certificate.
  • Once reviewed FEMA will issue a determination document, either approving or denying the map change.
  • If approved, the classification change can result in significant flood insurance rates savings

Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA)

HFIAA slowed the elimination of flood insurance subsidies for properties in high-risk zones.  To compensate for the decrease in revenue, the new law calls for the addition of a surcharge on all policies that will be collected until, with limited exceptions, all subsidies are eliminated. The surcharge is a flat fee applied to all policies based on occupancy type of building  and is not associated with the flood zone or construction date (pre-FIRM/post-FIRM).

  • Annual Policy Surcharge - $25 or $250 
    • Policies for owner-occupied, single family detached buildings and individual condo units that are the primary residence of the policyholder along with tenant contents-only policies include a $25 surcharge
    • All other buildings include a $250 surcharge
    • Verification of Primary Residence Status form must be completed to receive the lower surcharge
  • PRP – Preferred Risk Policy          
    • Risks located in B,C, or X zones or newly mapped into high-risk zone may be eligible if they meet loss-history requirements
    • Buildings newly mapped into a high-risk flood area initially may be eligible for a lower-cost PRP rate in the year following a map change.  However, premiums may increase up to 18 percent each year as part of the premium rate revisions put in place by the act
    • In order to be eligible must meet PRP loss-history requirements

 

 

NOTE: This information is only a general description of flood insurance issues. Every situation is different and coverage varies based on the property and situation. Coverage may be subject to individual insureds meeting underwriting qualifications and to availability. For further information visit www.floodsmart.gov or contact a Murphy Insurance Agency Associate.

checkup review

You bought your insurance...auto, home, business, life, etc., and know you’re covered. From a money stand point, you’re good with the premium. So, why bother talking to your insurance representative unless there is something specific to take care of? 

  1. Changes in your life can impact your needs and you may not realize it;
  2. Insurance companies often come out with new coverage options that you should consider.

Life changes that typically require an insurance change

  • Change in use of your home or auto – business use, rent a room, Airbnb, driving for Uber, Lyft, etc
  • Change in drivers having regular access to your vehicle - make sure everyone is covered
  • Change in marital status or living arrangements - make sure everyone and all possessions are covered
  • Change of jobs - change of life or disability benefits, starting a business, company car, etc.
  • Birth or adoption of a child - reconsider life insurance needs
  • Hiring a nanny or other home worker - workers compensation

     
        learn more > 10 questions to help you assess changing insurance needs

Options you might want to consider or reconsider

Auto

  • Automobile accident forgiveness
  • Disappearing deductible
  • Transportation Network Company driver endorsement
  • Umbrella extension of underinsured and uninsured motorist coverages

Home

  • Home service line coverage
  • Oil heat fuel remediation coverage
  • Optional higher limits on mold protection
  • Ordinance or law coverage - pays for building code upgrades required after a loss


At Murphy Insurance, we don’t believe in “set it and forget it” when it comes to your insurance protection.
That’s why we send out information by newsletter, share information via our blog and social media, send individual notices and other communications. We work diligently to stay in touch about specific issues you should consider or simply when we haven't spoken in a while.

Ultimately, it takes you reaching back out to us to complete that loop and say “Yes...I want to talk”. Without a conversation, we can’t know what might have changed that requires modification of your current insurance. If anything above indicates we should talk, call us, send us an email, or stop by. Just don’t wait too long because you never know when something can happen and we want your protection to be right.

motorcycle insurance

If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, once spring is here you can’t wait until the weather gets good enough to get your bike back on the road.  After sitting out the winter, you’ll be going through a check list to get your motorcycle tuned up, polished and road ready. 

Make sure your insurance policy is up to date and reflects your current situation.

It’s exciting to get back out there, but before you do, be sure that you also do a check up on your motorcycle insurance in addition to the motorcycle itself.

motorcycle insuranceUpdate your insurance coverage

During the winter months, you may have taken your bike off the road or temporarily reduced coverage limits. If you have a plate on your bike, you may be tempted that first warm day to take it for a ride, but if you haven’t switched your policy back to the limits you normally carry on your vehicles, don’t take the chance. If you or someone else is injured, you’ll more than regret making an impulsive decision.  Also, if you’ve moved or had a significant change in how many miles you ride, it might change your insurance premium amount.

Coverage for your bike and equipment

New motorcycle replacement – If you have a new bike, ask about special replacement cost coverage. New motorcycles depreciate quickly, so this endorsement will provide funds for a brand new motorcycle if you have a loss within a specific time frame or number of miles.

Custom bike equipment or accessories – If you’ve been sprucing up or customizing your bike, be sure that the value of your upgrades are listed in the value.  Unless you specifically add them, they may not be covered.

Gear & personal belongings – If wear special protective gear or carry personal belongings, check how your insurance policy covers these items or if you need a special endorsement.  You could save money in an accident if personal property is covered under the vehicle deductible rather than under your home/renter policy.

Coverage for injuries to others or yourself

When you’re on a motorcycle, you’re far more exposed than when riding in a vehicle, so be sure that your policy has top notch.

 Guest riders and yourself – Not all policies automatically cover guests, so be sure that you have coverage even for occasional riders.  Also consider medical payments coverage that can pay for medical expenses for you or guests, which can be significant even if you have good health insurance due to deductibles and other costs. Another coverage option is uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, which will cover your in the event someone that causes you injury isn't properly insured.

Bodily inury to others – Even though you're on a smaller vehicle, it doesn't mean that you can't be at-fault for causing an accident. Be sure your policy has higher limits in case you swerve or somehow are responsible for causing injury. 

Our insurance Associates can walk you through your motorcycle insurance coverage and discuss options for better protection. Even if it’s only been a few months, looking at your coverage with fresh eyes is always smart before getting back on the road. Situations can change and it never hurts to review. Being properly protected will make your summer fun all the more enjoyable.

Uninsured driver accidents

When buying car insurance there are lots of different coverage issues to consider, most of us tend to focus on coverage for situations where we damage our vehicle, pay for damage to other peoples property and paying for damages if we physically injure another person. But, what if someone hits you? Have you ever said to yourself, "If someone else hits me then their insurance will pay." But, what if they don't have insurance or what if they have really low limits that doesn't cover the damage/injury they cause?

As of 2012, the Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates approximately 1 in 8 drivers (12.6%) across the country is driving without insurance. 

uninsured driver coverageuninsured drivers

Most states require drivers to have auto liability insurance, but a few do not including New Hampshire. While Massachusetts has a low incidence of uninsured drivers (4.0% in 2012), you are on the roads with drivers insured in other states or may visit another state yourself on vacation or for work. A popular vacation spot like Florida has among the highest uninsured driver rates with 23.8%. Drivers from all over visit New England, so you can't assume that everyone is as responsible as you.

underinsured drivers

You face an even greater risk of being hit by an “underinsured” driver who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your injuries. Massachusetts only requires minimum limits of $20,000/$40,000 bodily injury to others to register a vehicle...that won’t cover much in a serious accident. When you purchased your insurance, you probably purchased higher limits; however, you can't rely that others will be as responsible.

using your own auto insurance to protect you

So what can you do? You can protect yourself by having "uninsured and underinsured coverage" on your auto policy. Uninsured coverage pays for injuries resulting from an accident with a driver who is responsible for the injuries but has no liability coverage. Underinsured coverage is for situations when the responsible driver has insufficient liability limits to pay for your injuries. Generally, you can purchase uninsured and underinsured up to the limits of the "optional bodily injury to others coverage" that you have purchased. Ask yourself, why would I want to protect myself less than I protect others?

Talk to your agent about upgrading your coverage on your auto insurance policy to be protected in the event you're injured by an underinsured or uninsured motorist. If you have an umbrella policy, you may also be able to upgrade your umbrella coverage to include this protection.

 

disaster planning questions

When a major storm hits causing power outages, downed trees, flooding or other damage that impacts your business operation, it's important to have an action plan in place. Forty percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and another 25 percent fail within one year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). But by taking action in advance to prepare, businesses can increase their chance of getting back on their feet financially and keeping their doors open.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommend the following steps:

disaster planningDevelop a business continuity plan

Having a business continuity plan is vital for companies to prepare for, survive and recover from a hurricane. Use IBHS’ free OFB-EZ® (Open for Business) business continuity planning tool to create a plan that focuses on recovering after the initial emergency response. Share your plan with employees, assign responsibilities and offer training so your workforce can collaborate in the recovery of your business. Conduct regular drills to assess and improve response. 

Maintain key information offsite

To get your business up and operating as quickly as possible after a disaster, you’ll need to be able to access critical business information. In addition to backing up computer data, keep other critical information offsite such as your insurance policies, banking information and phone numbers of employees, key customers, vendors and suppliers, your insurance professional and others. If you have a back-up site, make sure it’s sufficiently far away so as not to be affected by the same risks that threaten the primary location. Use IBHS’ free EZ-PREPTM severe weather emergency preparedness and response planning toolkit with checklists that can be customized for your company to be sure you have a well-organized plan and are ready to respond when disasters occur.

Create a business inventory

Include all business equipment, supplies and merchandise—and don’t forget commercial vehicles.

Review your Insurance coverage

The time to review your insurance policy is before disaster strikes and you have to file a claim. It is important that your business have both the right amount and type of insurance for its needs and risk profile. Here are a few key issues to consider:

Opt for replacement cost coverage

Most commercial property policies provide either replacement cost coverage, actual cash value coverage, or a combination of both. Replacement cost coverage will pay to rebuild or repair property, based on current construction costs. Actual cash value coverage will pay to rebuild or replace the property minus depreciation. Depreciation is a decrease in value due to wear and tear or age. If your business is destroyed and you only have actual cash value coverage, you may not be in a position to completely rebuild.

Consider tenant coverage

If you rent or lease a building, consider tenant coverage, which will insure your on-premises property, including machinery, furniture and merchandise. The building owner’s policy will not cover your contents.

Don’t forget about flood insurance

Flooding is not covered by standard commercial insurance policies, so consider buying a separate flood policy. If you’re located in a high- to moderate-risk flood zone, you could be protecting your business from devastating financial loss. Commercial flood coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and provides up to $500,000 in building coverage and $500,000 for contents. You can also get coverage through private insurers.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

decisions

desire avoid signs

Sometimes decisions you make can impact the pricing and availability of insurance. We don’t want to rain on anyone’s plans; however, it’s best to be aware so that you can make decisions with full information.

In some cases, policies may have exclusions that eliminate coverage for certain activities; require an endorsement; not be available from some companies; or have an increased premium due to the additional risk.

If you’re contemplating any of the decisions below, please call us first to discuss how these issues can impact your insurance coverage and premium.

  • Driving for a ride sharing/transportation service — Uber, Lyft, etc.
  • Buying a luxury vehicle
  • Renting a room in your home on a permanent or occasional basis — Airbnb
  • Buying a dog
  • Buying an exotic pet or farm animal
  • Installing a swimming pool
  • Constructing a treehouse
  • Buying a trampoline
  • Building a skateboard ramp
  • Hiring a nanny
  • Starting a home business — when does a hobby become a business?

renters/apartment insurance

What happens if…

- at a party, someone slips and falls injuring their back.
- your jewelry and electronics are stolen in a burglary.
- you cause a fire or water overflow damaging your apartment and other units.
- a pipe bursts causing damage to your furniture and possessions.


According to a survey by Apartments.com, 58% of renters don’t purchase tenants insurance...often because they didn’t know that it existed or thought it was expensive. Yet, the average cost for a policy covering $20,000 in personal property and $500,000 of personal liability is approximately only $200 a year. That’s less than $17 a month or 55¢ a day. If you reduced going out to eat by one time a month, you could pay for renter’s protection.  And, if you skip a “big night out”, you could pay for the entire year of coverage in one night.   

Your landlord’s insurance does not cover your personal belongings. It's a common misconception that your landlord's policy provides coverage for you.  It doesn't! If you don’t have a policy because you’re trying to save, imagine having to spend thousands of dollars to replace your possessions. Sometimes people don't by renter's insurance because they think their stuff isn't worth that much. But, don’t focus the “actual current value” of what you'd get if you tried to sell all your possessions. Instead, think about what the “replacement value” of what it would cost to by everything new, which is what can happen if there is a fire.  

It’s not just about your stuff.  It’s about your being sued. If a person is injured in your home or you damage someone’s property, you could easily be sued. Not only will you have to pay to defend yourself, but if found responsible, your assets plus current and future wages are at risk.  If you don’t have renter’s insurance, but are thinking you should have it, don’t procrastinate. Get more information and a custom quote. For a list of 5 things to consider when looking at renters insurance, visit dfmurphy.com/rentersinsurancetips.

 

diamond ring

 

Insuring jewelry is different from your other personal possessions. Standard home, renter and condo policies generally have a $1,000 specific limit in the event of theft. You may be able to increase that amount to $3,000 with some companies; however, for an expensive piece such as an engagement ring, you probably would have a coverage gap. 

schedule engagement ringSolve this problem by scheduling high value jewelry on your policy, which provides separate coverage, eliminates the deductible and provides coverage in situations not only of theft but also losing an item. Generally, it costs about $12.50 per $1,000 in coverage, so a $6,000 ring would cost about $75.00 to insure. Well worth it in case you look down and find your diamond is missing.

If you have jewelry that you'd like a quote on scheduling on your home, condo or renter policy, complete a scheduled item quote request. It takes just a minute and we'll get back to you shortly.

 

home based business

What you need to know if you work from home

home based businessWhether you’re running a part-time, seasonal or full-time business from your home, you’ll want to carefully consider your risks and insurance needs. Starting a business—even at home—can be a challenging venture, and having the right insurance can provide a financial safety net and peace of mind.

Your insurance choices should, in part, be based on the type of business you operate. For instance, if you’re a sole practitioner home-based accountant, you’ll have very different insurance needs than your neighbor who runs a childcare business. When considering insurance for your business, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of business do I run? What are the potential risks faced by your type of business?
  • What is the value of my business property? Do you have expensive equipment, such as cameras or commercial printers? Do you stock valuable business inventory, such as gemstones?
  • Does my business have employees?
  • Do customers or contractors visit my business at my home?
  • Do I use my car or other vehicles in the course of my business operations?
  • Does my business store customers’ financial and personal information on a computer or through a cloud computing service?

The answers to these questions will guide which types of insurance to purchase—and how much coverage you’ll need. For your home-based business, the main types of insurance to consider include the following:

Property and liability insurance

Depending on the nature of your home-based business, you’ll need insurance to protect the value of your business property from loss due to theft, fire or other insured perils. You’ll also need liability protection to cover costs if someone is injured as a result of visiting your business or using your product or service. Your homeowners insurance may provide some protection for your business, but it may not be sufficient. Options for property and liability insurance for home-based businesses include:

  • Adding an “endorsement” to your homeowners policy
  • Stand-alone home-based business insurance policies
  • A Business Owners Policy—or BOP—which combines several types of coverag

Business vehicle insurance

Your personal auto insurance may provide coverage for limited business use of your car. But if your business owns vehicles or your personal vehicle is primarily used for business purposes, you’ll need business vehicle insurance.

Workers compensation insurance

If you have employees, you’ll want to strongly consider purchasing workers compensation insurance to cover costs if an employee is hurt on the job. Workers compensation insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment, in exchange for relinquishing the right to sue the employer. In some states, workers compensation insurance is mandatory, so be sure to check your state’s workers compensation website for local requirements.

Other types of insurance may be suitable for your home-based business as well. Your insurance professional can help you evaluate your needs and select insurance to meet your budget.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

caution: Insurance Pitfalls

 

When making decisions about your insurance, it can be a balancing act deciding how much coverage to buy. Understandably, budgetary constraints may impact what coverage you purchase; however, it often doesn’t cost significantly more to get a higher protection limit or add an endorsement that broadens coverage. When a claim occurs, few people would regret having spent a little more for the extra coverage that prevents a large out of pocket expenditure. Avoiding these common insurance mistakes will help ensure you have solid protection.

Underinsuring your home. Failing to insure your home at its replacement value is the biggest mistake a homeowner can make. The cost to rebuild a home is typically more than its market value and can fluctuate over time due to labor and building supply costs. If your home is significantly underinsured, you may not receive adequate funds to rebuild.

Not having extended replacement cost coverage. This optional coverage can pay to rebuild your home exactly as it was even if the cost exceeds the estimated replacement cost of the home. The primary purpose is to protect you against sudden increases in materials or construction costs which can occur after a hurricane or other disaster. Depending on your policy, extended replacement cost can pay up to an additional 100% of your policy’s Dwelling Coverage limit.

Not considering building code change additional costs. Building codes change periodically. If your home is badly damaged, you may be required to rebuild to meet new building codes. These extra expenses are typically excluded by a basic homeowner policy. However, you can purchase an “ordinance or law endorsement” that pays a specified amount toward these costs.

Ignoring flood and earthquake coverage. Just because you don’t live along a river or in California, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to seriously consider these coverages, which are excluded under a standard home policy.

Not buying renters insurance. If you rent (or cohabitate and don’t own the home you live in), a renters policy not only covers your possessions but also provides liability protection. It also covers additional living expenses if a fire or other covered situation requires that you move out temporarily.

Failing to have replacement cost on contents. Whether you rent or own, make sure your possessions are insured at the cost to replace them with new comparable items. Otherwise, you’d only receive the depreciated value for your possessions, which is probably only a fraction of what it would cost you to replace. Imagine having to replace everything and you’ll quickly see why this is essential. 

Purchasing only the most basic coverage. When unexpected accidents in life become a reality, having only basic coverage can still leave a significant financial burden on you. Paying for insurance coverage that doesn’t truly cover your needs isn’t helpful. Talk to your agent about ways to manage your costs while having higher limits in the areas where the greatest risk exists such as:

  • bodily injury to others
  • damage to others’ property
  • medical coverage
  • personal liability
  • underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage