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The Murphy Insurance Blog

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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!

A permanent life policy provides lifelong insurance protection. The policy pays a death benefit if you die tomorrow or if you live to be a hundred. There is also a savings element that will grow on a tax-deferred basis and may become substantial over time. Because of the savings element, premiums are generally higher for permanent than for term insurance. However, the premium in a permanent policy remains the same, while term can go up substantially every time you renew it.

Life Insurance protect familyThere are a number of different types of permanent insurance policies, such as whole (ordinary) life, universal life, variable life, and variable/universal life. In a permanent policy, the cash value is different from its face value amount. The face amount is the money that will be paid at death. Cash value is the amount of money available to you. There are a number of ways that you can use this cash savings. For instance, you can take a loan against it or you can surrender the policy before you die to collect the accumulated savings.

Unique features of a permanent policy:

  • You can lock in premiums when you purchase the policy. By purchasing a permanent policy, the premium will not increase as you age or if your health status changes.
  • The policy will accumulate cash savings.

​Depending on the policy, you may be able to withdraw some of the money. You also may have these options:

  • Use the cash value to pay premiums. If unexpected expenses occur, you can stop or reduce your premiums. The cash value in the policy can be used toward the premium payment to continue your current insurance protection – providing there is enough money accumulated.
  • Borrow from the insurance company using the cash value in your life insurance as collateral. Like all loans, you will ultimately need to repay the insurer with interest. Otherwise, the policy may lapse or your beneficiaries will receive a reduced death benefit. However, unlike loans from most financial institutions, the loan is not dependent on credit checks or other restrictions.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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.

Auto Insurance Premium Rebate

 

Many of the insurance companies we work with have applied to the Division of Insurance (DOI) to provide some level of premium credit/refund on most personal auto insurance policies due to reduced vehicle use during the COVID-19 stay-at-home timeframe. Each company is handling the situation slightly differently and has varied guidelines. Policy holders should receive more details from directly from their insurance carrier once credits/rebates are approved by the DOI. 

Auto Insurance premium rebateAlso, most insurance companies have communicated that they recognize some insureds are facing financial difficulties. The companies are willing to provide some flexibility on premium payment terms. If you are having finnancial challenges and need assistance regarding payments or have questions about premium credits, you may contact the insurance company directly and/or contact a Murphy Insurance Agency representative.

Safe driving tips for teens

driving tips

When you're a new driver, you may get tired of hearing advice about safe driving. No one thinks an accident will happen to them until it does, and the statistics show that new drivers are at greater risk of being involved in an accident. Safe driving helps avoid accidents and saves lives. It can also save you money because often insurance costs to go up if you have an accident.  When you have a good driving record, car insurance is more affordable. Here are eight ways to be safer on the road.

1) Don’t Speed

One of the major contributors to fatal teen accidents is speed.  Slow down especially in heavier traffic.  Speeding won’t get you there that much sooner.  Even if other traffic seems to be going faster, follow limits and go a safe speed.  Traffic tickets for speeding are expensive and can cause your auto insurance costs to go up significantly.

2) Drive Defensively

Focus on the road and scan the traffic ahead, behind, and next to you.  Keep a safe distance and think about how you would escape if a car suddenly stopped or came into your lane. Keep at a safe distance from cars ahead of you. The faster you’re driving the more space you need to maintain. Consider taking a defensive driving course. 

Driving tips3) Don’t Use Your Cell Phone

Massachusetts law and that of other states prohibit the use of a cell phone or other mobile electronic device while operating a vehicle by drivers under age 18. Studies indicate using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk as the distraction impairs driving ability. Turn your phone off to eliminate rings and alerts that distract you. Even when you are of age to legally use a phone, don’t forget that phone use distracts…focus on driving.

4) Don’t Text and Drive

In Massachusetts and other states, laws prohibit drivers from using any mobile electronic device to write, send, or read an electronic message (including text messages, emails, instant messages, or accessing the Internet) while operating a vehicle. This law applies to drivers of all ages. Researchers have shown that texting causes drivers to look away from the road for 4.6 seconds on average. Imagine driving the length of a football field without looking at the road…that’s a lot of distance. If you see others doing this and you are in a vehicle, ask them to stop.

5) Avoid Distractions

Distractions increase the chances that you won’t notice and react to a dangerous situation or that you’ll react too late. Beyond phones, other equally dangerous distractions include eating, drinking, playing with your radio, navigation or other controls, loud music. All these take your focus off the road, and being alert can give you extra seconds to react, which can make all the difference in avoiding an accident. Statistics show that inexperienced drivers are more likely to lose control of a vehicle, so avoiding distractions can help you stay in control.

6) Drive Alone

You might not realize it, but other people in your car can sometimes be a distraction. Having one teen passenger can double the risk of causing a car accident. Adding additional teen passengers increases the risk. Don’t offer to drive others unless you have to. Be aware of the risks to help focus your attention on the road.

 7) Turn on Headlights

Headlights increase visibility even in daylight. The more visible you are to other drivers the better.  Don’t wait until it’s completely dark to turn on lights.  Be sure they are on in early morning and early evening so that other drivers can easily see you.

8) Use Seatbelts

Wearing your seatbelt is the law, but sometimes people take chances.  Always buckle up!  Newer cars have excellent safety equipment be sure you understand the safety features of your vehicle and how they work to protect you.  Be sure you understand how to properly brake with anti-lock brakes.

flood

 

floodMany people underestimate the potential for flooding. When a heavy rain storm or hurricane hits, there can be severe damage caused by floods.  Rising and pooling water that lead to flooding don't only happen near rivers, lakes and wetlands...it can happen even in low risk areas due to clogged storm drains, high volumes of rain and other causes.  

Lack of frequency can make it easier for some to rationalize why they might not need to have flood protection since it’s not that common; however, it doesn't mean that it can't happen, which is why you need protection. Did you know that:

  • Homeowners are 4 times more likely to sustain a loss from a flood than a fire.
  • 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in low- to moderate-risk areas.
Here are some common questions that we get about flood insurance:
 
Q. Does my homeowner, condo or renter policy cover floods?
A. No. It is specifically excluded from these policies. You must purchase separate flood insurance. Flood insurance coverage is limited. Often the amount you can purchase is less than the amount you have purchased under your home insurance; however, in a flood situation, some coverage is better than no coverage.   
 
Q. What does flood insurance cover?
A. It covers physical damage to your property and possessions. However, the coverage is more limited than the protection provided under your homeowner policy, so it’s important to understand the differences. Read the National Flood Insurance Program Summary of Coverage for more information.
 
Q. How much does flood insurance cost?
A. The cost of coverage is controlled by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) implemented by FEMA. The premium cost will vary depending on your property location and the structure. It also depends on flood zone based on federal flood maps and several other factors. If you live in a low-to-moderate risk area, you can receive preferred rates. Your premium will also be lower if you choose a higher deductible. Rates are set by the NFIP and are the same regardless of where your purchase insurance.
 
For additional details, review our flood insurance page. The NFIP website also provides a wealth of information, www.floodsmart.gov. If you don’t have flood insurance but believe you have potential flood risks at your property, even if low, it's worth taking the time to learn more and get a flood insurance quote. You may be surprised at how affordable it can be.
 

For Part 2 of our discussion on common storm related claims issues, let’s talk about sewer back-up and sump pump overflow issues. Heavy storm rains and other situations can cause a sewage back-up. Also, if your basement has a tendency to get water when it’s very rainy, you may have a sump pit with a pump to move the water out. But, what if the pump motor fails or the power goes out?. When these problems occur, they can cause a mini disaster.  

Q. Is water damage caused by a sewer back-up or failed sump pump covered by my homeowner policy?
A.
No. These events are specifically excluded in a standard homeowner policy, yet many homeowners mistakenly assume that these situations are covered. 

Q. Can I purchase coverage for a sewer back-up or sump pump failure?
A.
Yes. You can purchase limited coverage either as part of a package endorsement that increases several coverages on your policy or as a separate “Water Back-up and Sump Discharge or Overflow Endorsement” (click to view sample) to your policy. The coverage is usually limited to $2,500 or $5,000, which keeps the cost low, and it gives some assistance that can help when needed. Generally, the average cost is about $100, and in some cases, you can purchase more coverage. 

When you consider that your furnace, hot water tank, washer and dryer, and many other household items are located in your basement, it’s worth purchasing the maximum coverage available. We generally recommend this coverage to our customers; however, not everyone purchases protection. If you aren’t 100% sure that you have this coverage and want to have it in place, be sure to review your policy or contact your agent.

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.

auto insurance covid-19

The unexpected changes to our daily lives caused by COVID-19 has created several auto insurance related issues that may impact you depending on your situation. Take a moment to consider if these apply to you or perhaps to someone you know who might be unaware.Auto Insurance

Making deliveries using your personal auto

If as part of your work you are now delivering food or other products due to the crisis, your personal auto policy needs to be updated to cover "business use", which is excluded from a basic policy. You don't want to have an accident making a delivery and not be covered. Please contact us so that we may contact your carrier and ensure you have proper protection. If any of the below situations apply to you, please contact us immediately to make adjustments to your auto insurance policy.

College students home early from school changes

If you're a student or have a student in your household who is home early from school due to the crisis, here are two situations that you normally would have changed at the end of the semester, but may need to change now, if applicable:
  1. The student has a car at college, and now the car is home.This is a "change of garaging location". Auto policies require notice of changes to where a car is kept overnight, aka garaging.  When you take a car to school or return home from the semester, you need to contact us to update your policy information.
  2. The student was excluded/removed as a driver from the parents' or another auto policy.  Unless you contact us to add the student back onto the auto policy, they are not covered by insurance. 

Given the quick change of circumstances, be sure to address these issues if needed. 

FAQs

PaymentsBelow are two common questions we are hearing frequently due to the COVID-19 crisis.  

Is there any flexibility with payments if I'm out of work due to the crisis and having financial difficulty? 

Many insurance companies have communicated to us that they recognize many insureds are facing financial difficulties and are willing to provide some flexibility on premium payment terms. Every situation is different, so if you need assistance regarding payments, reach out to determine what options might be available. You may contact the insurance company directly and/or contact Murphy Insurance with questions. 
 

I have a Registry of Motor Vehicles issue to address. What do I do? 

Effective Friday, March 27th, the RMV will be enforcing a strict no walk-in policy at its eight Service Centers open to the general public. The only transactions that will be processed at service centers are those that require an in-person transaction, including Commercial Driving Licenses or Permits (CDLs/CLPs), some new registrations, out of state conversions and new Mass IDs. Customers who need to complete these transactions will be required to make an online appointment reservation, and customers arriving without an appointment will be asked to leave and make an appointment online to return at a future date.

Appointment reservations can be made online at www.Mass.Gov/RMV in the myRMV Online Service Center under "Make or Cancel a Reservation." Customers who make an appointment will be sent a confirmation email that they should be prepared to show on arrival at their designated time at a specific Service Center. Please contact us if you have RMV questions related to your vehicles.

When a major storm or hurricane comes through your area, there are often downed trees. There is some coverage as outlined below, but it's typically minimal in comparison to the damage a falling tree can cause.  Here are some of the most common questions that we here related to fallen trees and insurance coverage.

Fallen Trees 

Q: What coverage is available for the removal of fallen trees?
A. If a windstorm or weight of snow, sleet or ice causes a tree to hit your home or another insured structure such as a detached garage or shed, a standard home insurance policy generally covers damage the tree causes to the structure and contents within it (when the damage causes a hole in the building). It also provides limited tree debris removal coverage of up to $500 when a tree hits a covered structure. If a tree just falls in your yard, it’s generally not covered.  

In some cases, insurance companies may offer a special endorsement that provides $500 or slightly higher amounts of tree debris removal coverage when a covered building is not involved. It’s important to remember that tree coverage is subject to your policy deductible, and the cost of removing a tree may fall within a typical $500 or $1000. But, don’t assume that you’re not covered; it’s always good to ask your agent.  

Q. If a neighbor’s tree falls on my house, whose policy covers it?
A.
Your policy covers damage to your home, so your insurance policy would provide the coverage. In some cases, if the tree was in poor health and/or not properly maintained, your insurance company may try to be reimbursed by your neighbor’s insurance company through a process called “subrogation”, which may allow you to be reimbursed for your deductible. 

Q. Does insurance cover removal of a tree before a storm to protect a house from the tree potentially falling on it?
A.
No. While taking preventative measures to avoid a tree crashing onto your home is wise, general maintenance isn’t something covered by insurance policies. Yes, it’s true that removing a tree isn’t cheap, but considering that tree removal coverage is limited after a tree falls, it’s better to take a tree down before it damages your house and potentially injures someone. Would you rather control how the tree comes down or have mother nature drop it randomly on your property? My choice would be to control it. 

Q. If a tree falls on my car, what insurance policy covers damage?
A.
Cars damaged by a falling tree are covered under the comprehensive coverage part of your auto insurance policy. If you have a car that you only drive seasonally and take off the road, it’s important to keep comprehensive coverage on the vehicle even while it’s in storage in case it is damaged by fire, falling trees or other covered situations.

This is a general discussion of the issue. We recommend reviewing your policy and speaking with your agent for specific details about the coverage you;ve purchased. 

Photo: FEMA/Nicolas Britto

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