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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

  1. What is a household inventory and why do I need one?
  2. How do I take my own inventory?
  3. I own a boat. Is it covered under my homeowners insurance policy or do I need specialized coverage?
  4. What should I look for in a policy?
  5. What do I do at the scene of an accident?
  6. How do I file an insurance claim?
  7. I rent my home. Am I covered for losses under my landlord's homeowners insurance?
  8. Is a renters insurance policy inferior to a homeowners insurance policy?
  9. Does renters insurance cover all of my possessions?
  10. My pipes froze and burst, damaging my home. Do I have coverage?
  11. How can I reduce the cost of my homeowners insurance?
  12. How can I save money on my own auto insurance?
  13. Would I be covered under my homeowners policy if I am sued by someone who was seriously injured on my property?
  14. What would happen if I was held liable for a settlement that exceeded the limits of my insurance coverage?
  15. How can I protect myself?
  16. I don't believe that I am being classified correctly for Workers' Compensation. What should I do?
  17. Why has employment practices liability become such an issue?
  18. How likely am I to be sued by an employee, and what can it cost me?
  19. What does EPLI cover?
What is a household inventory and why do I need one?
A household inventory could prove invaluable if you lost some or all of your household belongings in afire, burglary or natural disaster by assisting you in recalling and reporting to your insurance company exactly what you'd lost. A personal house hold inventory can provide you with a record of your household furnishings and belongings, when you purchased them and their original cost. For an investment of just a few hours, you can survey your belongings and be prepared in the event of a loss.


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How do I take my own inventory?
There are three basic steps. First, list all of your major belongings and furnishings, room by room. Record a brief description, any serial numbers, purchase prices and dates, and current value. Attach any receipts and appraisals. The second step is to back up your inventory list with photographs or video. Take photos or video of every room, with closet or cabinet doors open. Note the date, contents shown and location. Third, store the inventory and photographs/videotape in a safe place away from your home, such as in a safe deposit box in a bank. Keeping a copy of the list or tape at home is fine, but it is wise to keep the original inventory and receipts in a secure location in case a fire or natural disaster destroys your home. Of course, you should likewise protect certain valuables and hard-to-replace documents such as deeds, bonds, stocks and insurance policies by storing them in a safe deposit box. You also should be aware that homeowners policies generally limit the amount of coverage on fine jewelry, furs, silver and other possessions of high value, and you may want to purchase additional coverage in the form of Personal Article Floater.


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I own a boat. Is it covered under my homeowners insurance policy or do I need specialized coverage?
You probably need specialized coverage. A typical homeowners policy covers liability for damage toproperty and bodily injury to others when the watercraft is a sailboat under 26 feet, or when it is powered by an outbound motor of 25 horsepower or less. However, theft and sea perils, including sinking, stranding, running aground and collision, are not covered.


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What should I look for in a policy?
Boat owners will be well served by a policy specifically designed to cover physical damage to boats, liability for damage and/or injury and protection and indemnity liability. When selecting a policy or checking existing coverage, look for limits of navigation where the boat can go and still be protected by the insurance policy. Insureds who violate these limits may not be covered if the vessel is damaged. Also important in a boat policy are adequate limits of liability insurance and provisions for insuring sails, spars and other property in the boat.


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What do I do at the scene of an accident?
If you're involved in an automobile accident, the first thing you should do is contact the police. If anyone is injured, give details to the police, then give the victims whatever help you can, but try not to move them to avoid injuring them further. Make sure an ambulance or emergency rescue team has been summoned. If you smell or see leaking gas, call the fire department and clear the area. The police will complete an on-the-scene accident report, something your insurance company will require to settle your claim. Cooperate with the police in giving them the necessary information, but try not to make self- incriminating statements, such as taking blame for the accident. Your comments may be used against you later. If another driver is involved, exchange information. Be sure to obtain the other driver's license number, registration, insurance agent's name, insurer and policy number. Also, write down the name, address and work and home phone numbers of the driver and any passengers in the other vehicle. Make notes about their injuries, if any, and if they say they are unhurt. the cars involved and how the accident happened. Ask the investigating officer where and how you can obtain a copy of the police report.


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How do I file an insurance claim?
If you are involved in an accident, if your car is stolen, or damaged by fire, flood or vandalism,contact your insurance representative as soon as possible to report the claim. Have your policy number ready, plus all license numbers, phone numbers and other information. The police must be notified immediately of any motor vehicle accident or theft. As your professional, independent agent, we can assist you in completing the necessary paperwork, and will guide you in taking the steps you need to take to be reimbursed for your loss.


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I rent my home. Am I covered for losses under my landlord's homeowners insurance?
No. Your landlord cannot insure your personal property-your personal computer, clothes, stereo, television, jewelry, furniture, bicycle or artwork and other items-against destruction or loss. Renters
insurance, however, will give you both property and liability insurance-and it's very affordable, typically costing less per month than a cable TV bill.



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Is a renters insurance policy inferior to a homeowners insurance policy?
No. Renters insurance provides essentially the same coverage as homeowners insurance, but without coverage on the dwelling. It covers personal property, protecting the renter against many causes of loss, such as fire and smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm and water damage from plumbing.

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Does renters insurance cover all of my possessions?
It depends. Some possessions-jewelry, firearms, silverware-are subject to a per- category theft limit.Most renters policies set a $1 ,000 total limit on jewelry that is stolen, a $2,000 limit on firearms and
a $2,500 limit on silverware or flatware. Other items-money, securities, personal records, watercraft and others-are subject to special limits of liability. If your valuables exceed these limits, you may want to
consider purchasing a "floater," which provides additional coverage for some of your items.



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My pipes froze and burst, damaging my home. Do I have coverage?
Most homeowners insurance policies, except for the very basic ones, cover damage to the home resulting from broken pipes. For example, your insurance company will pay to clean or replace the carpet and furniture that's damaged, minus your deductible. For those with renters insurance, property loss would be covered. If the damage is so extensive that you can't stay in the home, your insurance company generally will pay for additional living expenses.


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How can I reduce the cost of my homeowners insurance?
One way to keep insurance costs down while maintaining adequate protection for your family, property and belongings is to increase the size of your deductible. A deductible is the agreed amount by which, in the event of a covered loss or damage, the insurance company reduces the loss payment. For example, if you agree to a $100 deductible on your homeowners policy, you would be responsible for the first $100 in damages and your insurance company would reimburse you for the balance of the loss up to the policy limit. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be. Increasing your deductible to the level you can afford will reduce your insurance costs while still providing protection from large losses. You may also be eligible for lower premiums if you have certain protective devices installed in your home such as a burglar alarm, fire alarm, smoke detector, storm shutters or hurricane-resistant glass and doors.


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How can I save money on my own auto insurance?
As an individual, you can reduce your own auto insurance bill by selecting coverages and deductibles which meet your individual and financial needs. There are a number of choices you can make to put some of your auto insurance dollars back into your own pocket. Reducing the amount you drive can reduce auto insurance costs. If you car pool or use public transportation on a regular basis, you may be eligible for a premium reduction. If you are a young driver or have a young driver living in your household who has either completed an approved driver education course, or gone away to as school over 100 miles from home, your premiums may be lower. Drivers who complete an approved defensive driving course also may be eligible for premium reductions. You may not need all of the auto coverage you're paying for. Since cars depreciate over the years, you may want to discuss with our agency whether you still need comprehensive and/or collision coverage. Increasing deductibles under auto collision and comprehensive coverage also can save you money by lowering premiums. Higher deductibles mean greater out-of- pocket expense if you have an accident; however, most drivers can save over the long-run while still being protected from large losses by raising their deductibles. High-priced, high-performance and sports cars are generally more expensive to insure because replacement parts and repair labor cost more. Some companies will not accept an application for "hot" cars or cars with bad safety experience, which means you could be placed in a more expensive program to obtain coverage. Expensive cars are also more attractive to thieves. Additionally, insurance can be more expensive for smaller cars that are more easily damaged. Call us before you purchase your next vehicle. We can tell you how your insurance costs will vary based on the vehicle you choose.

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Would I be covered under my homeowners policy if I am sued by someone who was seriously injured on my property?
Your homeowners policy will protect you, but only up to the liability limits of your policy. In today's lawsuit-oriented society, your homeowners policy may not provide adequate liability coverage in the event you are involved in a significant lawsuit.



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What would happen if I was held liable for a settlement that exceeded the limits of my insurance coverage?
You would be held personally responsible for paying any portion of the settlement that your insurance company did not pay. Your present assets -your home, your savings account, your car and any other assets you might have - as well as your future earnings could be taken from you to pay the settlement.



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How can I protect myself?
Purchase a personal umbrella policy. Umbrella policies are inexpensive, and they provide broad coverage. An umbrella policy-also known as a catastrophe or excess liability policy-provides liability coverage that becomes effective when your underlying coverage limits provided by your automobile, homeowners, boat or recreational vehicle policy are exceeded. These policies provide broad coverage and include protection against certain losses not covered by your other insurance policies. Umbrella policies are a good investment - an investment in your present and future financial security.



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I don't believe that I am being classified correctly for Workers' Compensation. What should I do?
An insured who has a classification complaint should first contact his or her agent. If the problem is unresolved the insured should then contact the staff of the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board. If still dissatisfied, a hearing at the Board can be requested. A final option would be to request a hearing at the New York State Insurance Department.


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Why has employment practices liability become such an issue?
The first major piece of federal legislation prohibiting employment discrimination was expanded in1991 to grant employees the right to a jury trial and permit the recovery of compensatory and punitive
damages. From 1989 to 1994, the number of charges filed with the Equal Employment opportunities Commission against employers increased from 59,411 to 90,000. The monetary benefits that claimants received increased from $48 million in 1981 to more than $140 million in 1994. Employees are being awarded payments for back wages, compensatory damages and medical expenses. Standard business policies and commercial general liability coverage provide little or no protection against employment practices claims. And, coverage for such claims has been omitted from employers section of workers' compensation forms. However, there is help available - employment practices liability insurance (EPLI).



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How likely am I to be sued by an employee, and what can it cost me?
Discrimination suits are becoming so commonplace that courts nationwide can barely keep up. Settlements and award costs are skyrocketing. An unintentional violation of the laws could place your
company in financial jeopardy. Even if you do everything by the book, there is a chance you still may be sued. According to Jury Verdict Research Inc., the median verdict for compensatory damages is roughly $105,000. Whether the jury sides with you or not, your legal costs could be staggering. Typical defense costs average $100,000 to $200,000 per case.


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What does EPLI cover?
Following good personnel practices alone doesn't insulate you from a liability. Employers must defend against even groundless allegations, and that has proved to be very expensive. EPLI offers protection against the crippling costs of wrongful termination, discrimination and sexual harassment suits. It provides defense for the company and the employees named as defendants in a lawsuit. It may include a wide range of monetary damages, including loss of wages and benefits. Most policies cover the cost of investigating, defending and settling claims.


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