Happy Thanksgiving…..Drive Safely

November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and customers. We would like to thank you for allowing us to service your insurance needs. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what we have and realize that we are all very fortunate.

Thanksgiving is also the start of the busy travel season when families drive long distances to visit relatives and friends. The day after Thanksgiving is the start of the shopping frenzy that we like to call ‘Black Friday and with it comes cars weaving in and out of parking lots to get the last spot in front of the store. For those of you that are traveling great distances or going out holiday shopping over the weekend we would like to give you a few friendly reminders of things you can do to keep yourself protected while driving:

Share the road…be patient
Avoid being distracted
Share driving duties with a companion on long trips
Obey speed limits and road rules
Stay alert….take a break every two hours
Don’t drink and drive
Don’t drive drowsy or sleepy
Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination
BUCKLE UP! Seatbelts save lives.

All of us here at Kerrigan, O’Malley & Bailey would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Been in a parking-lot accident? Here are five tips you need to know

November 15, 2011

You’ve just loaded your grocery bags into your car in the parking lot at Hannafords. You’ve still got to pick up your kids from baseball practice. Time is running short.

As you’re backing out of your parking space, a car slams into the side of your car. You’ve just been the victim of a parking-lot accident.

About one-fifth of all auto accidents happen in parking lots. Parking-lot accidents typically occur at slow speeds and don’t usually result in serious damage, but they still can raise your Massachusetts auto insurance rates — and can raise plenty of questions.

How do you determine who’s at fault? Should you file a claim if no one was injured? If it’s a minor ding, can you simply pay the other driver for damages without filing an insurance claim?

Even if there appears to be no damage to both cars and you’re both uninjured, always call the police and file a police report.

About 20 percent of auto accidents happen in parking lots.
“If you give a check to the other party for damages to their vehicle, for example, they can use your check as proof that the accident occurred,” Marshburn says. “They may claim you paid to fix their car and now they want you to pay their medical expenses, too.”

Notifying police about the accident shifts your liability to the insurance company if an issue comes up later about damages or injuries, according to Marshburn.

In addition to calling the cops, follow these five simple steps if you’ve been involved in a parking-lot accident:

1. Keep cool

When a parking-lot accident first occurs, never admit it was your fault and don’t argue over who was at fault, says Nancy Germond, an insurance expert from Phoenix.

“It’s not productive and can get out of hand. Just exchange names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information, and let your insurance company work it out,” Germond says. “Simply say, ‘My adjuster will contact you.’” Then call your auto insurance agent or your insurance company’s toll-free number.

2. Find witnesses

Look around for witnesses to the accident and ask whether they’d be willing to furnish a name or contact number.

“Witnesses can testify to the location of the vehicles,” Germond says.

Witnesses are most valuable in a hit-and-run. If you’re lucky, a Good Samaritan will show up and leave the culprit’s license plate number on your windshield, Ross says. “In this case, you won’t have to pay your deductible and your insurance company will be reimbursed through the at-fault driver,” he says.

Unfortunately, if the other person gets away, you must pay the deductible to get your car fixed.

3. Document the scene

Don’t move the vehicles until you take pictures. Photograph the skid marks, if any, along with broken glass or other debris.

“Use your smartphone or keep a disposable camera in your glovebox,” Germond says. “Take pictures (as many as 10) to show the routes of travel, where you were — all before you move the cars, if possible. When you get home, diagram what occurred to provide to your insurance adjuster.”

4. Determine fault

If you’re at fault, you’ll pay your deductible and you’ll be assigned points, which causes your insurance rates to increase, Ross says. “Your rate will only go up if the accident is determined to be your fault and the damage exceeds $500, although this may vary from state to state,” he says.

Determining the at-fault party is easy in some cases. “You’re at fault if you’re the person entering the flow of traffic — for example, backing up into traffic from a parking space or a driveway,” Ross says.

Often, parking-lot accidents come down to your word against the other driver’s. In this case, insurance companies split the fault on a 50-50 basis, Ross says. “Each person pays their deductible,” he says, “and no points will be assigned.”

5. Be proactive

Avoiding the accident in the first place is your best defense. Keep these pointers in mind:

• Pull into a parking spot where you don’t have to back up but can instead pull forward into the lane of travel.

• Buy a car with a backup sensor or backup camera to alert you to objects or people behind you. If your car doesn’t come with a backup sensor or camera, consider buying one.

• Before you buy a car, test it extensively for blind spots, as some cars have bigger blind spots than others, making it difficult to see behind you.

• When you’re looking at buying a car, rent it for a week first to see how it handles and whether the blind spots cause problems.

• Watch for wind gusts when opening your car door, as they can catch the door, which can hit a car next to you in a parking lot.

• If possible, avoid parking lots at shopping centers and stores on super-busy Saturdays.

Snow is October?? Answers to your claim questions.

November 4, 2011

Well that was a week most of us won’t forget! Power outages, trees on cars, a foot of snow, and it is only October. I hope everyone has gotten there power back and can now enjoy the weekend ahead.

In wake of the Nor’easter that came this past weekend and all the damage that was caused I wanted to use this blog to answer some of the questions that we have been getting this week in our office. Hopefully this will help everyone better understand how their Massachusetts homeowners insurance policy will respond to damages.

1. Will my homeowner policy pay to remove the trees that have fallen in my yard?

The standard Massachusetts homeowner insurance policy provides $500 of tree removal coverage for damage due to a covered peril. Such covered perils include damage caused by a windstorm and/or weight of ice and snow, provided the tree(s) damages a covered structure such as your house, garage, shed or fence. The $500 is the amount paid for any one occurrence, regardless of the number of trees. A few companies do offer a small amount of additional coverage when you purchase their own company specific endorsements. It does vary by insurance company, but we have seen up to $500 additional offered by some.

2. Are my Trees, Shrubs and landscaping plants covered?

No coverage is available for damage to trees/shrubs/lawns/plants caused by the peril of weight of ice and snow or wind.

3. We have no power and as a result we have no heat. Will my homeonwer policy pay for me to stay in a hotel?

When we talk about power failure, we must first establish the cause and location of the power outage. Failure of power or other utility service that takes place off the resident premises is excluded under the standard Massachusetts homeowner insurance policy. If your area is experiencing a power outage but you have no damage to your home, then coverage is not available for additional living expenses. If the power outage is on premises – say the electrical wires were torn from your home from a falling tree, then coverage for additional living expenses would be available for a reasonable length of time in order to restore the electricity. This scenario would fall under the additional living expense coverage.

4. All the food in my refrigerator and freezer is no good because of the power outage. Is there coverage?

Under a standard Massachusetts homeowner insurance policy, no coverage is available for food spoilage as a result of power failure. However, many Massachusetts insurance companies offer a small amount of coverage, usually $500, through their own company specific endorsements. It varies by insurance carrier. Many only provide food spoilage coverage if the outage occurred on premises. Whether or your deductible applies, and the amount, will vary by company.

We hope this helps in answering some of the common questions relative to the damage that most of us are seeing in the area. Give our office a call to further clarify any questions you may have relative to your specific homeowner policy.

Let’s all hope for a much calmer weekend ahead. Thanks again for allowing our office to service your insurance needs.