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Berry Insurance Blog

Real People, Real Risks, Real Results

Blog Feature

Personal Auto | Individuals & Families | Learning Center | individuals and families

By: Corin Cook
May 19th, 2020

Many of us don’t think about our car insurance too often (and that’s a good thing because that means we aren’t using it!). After we establish our policies with our agent, it isn’t uncommon to put car insurance in the back of our minds until only when and if we have to use it. At Berry Insurance, we take on most of the responsibility of making sure our clients’ policies are up to date and meeting their needs, so we get (and even encourage) that you may not be thinking about your policy too much. But if you took this kind of “set it and forget it” approach to your car insurance, you may be wondering when your policy ends or requires renewal. Or maybe you are wondering if you are getting the best deal by sticking with the policy and carrier you have had for years. We will address both of these issues below to ensure you are getting the most out of your insurance policy. When does my policy renew? First, let’s talk about how often your existing policy renews. The simple answer here is: either six months or a year. In most cases, car insurance policies last one year, but some policies expire after only six months.  If you’re happy with your current policy, you should allow it to renew when the term ends. How do I renew? Fortunately, renewal doesn’t take much effort on your part. Your agent or carrier should take care of most of this for you. At Berry Insurance, we always reach out before renewal to conduct detailed account reviews and make updates (if necessary), then renew your policy for you. We can’t speak for every agent or carrier, but generally you can expect a representative to reach out to you like we do, or at least renew your policy automatically, as long as you have paid your bill. However, it might be wise to keep in mind when your policy expires in the rare case a negligent agent lets it fall through the cracks, leaving you uncovered. If that’s the case, you should contact your agent or carrier when you notice your policy is expiring. Renew isn’t always the answer: Now just because this was a simple answer, doesn’t mean you should stop reading here. Although in many cases, it may make sense to renew your policy every year, there will be other times where you may want to shop around at the end of your term or even switch your insurance mid-term.  When to shop instead of renew car insurance: Sometimes, sticking with your current insurance policy isn’t always the wisest decision. Some reasons you may want a new policy include: Finding a better deal Needing better coverage Experiencing a life change (moving, marriage, new/less driver/car, using vehicle for business use) Experiencing an incident (accident or violation) drop off your policy Taking advantage of an opportunity for a new discount Requiring better customer service If any of these reasons apply to you, you may want to read about them in more detail in this article: Should I Wait Until Renewal to Switch Auto Insurance?, which explains the scenarios you should leave your policy, and when you should stick with your current one. How to shop: Do you fall into one of the above scenarios and need to shop for new car insurance? Luckily, we have a resource for how to do that as well: How to Buy Car Insurance. That article outlines the detailed step-by-step process, but we will briefly summarize it here for you in case you aren’t ready to dive into the details. First, you’ll need to choose the type of insurance provider you want to work with (direct writer, captive insurance agent, independent insurance agent), then choose a specific provider in your area. Once you’ve chosen someone, you’ll need to reach out to them and provide some information about yourself, your vehicles, and your driving history.  The agent will then review your coverage, limits, and deductible options and help you choose which coverages are best for you. Once your policy details are determined, you will select a payment plan and your agent will activate your policy. Hit the road confidently with your car insurance policy: Whether you are waiting to renew your policy after its 6 or 12 month term, or have a reason to switch your policy altogether, hopefully you have a better understanding of when you will need to make changes to your policy and can go back to not thinking about it until the time comes.  Of course, if you work with us at Berry Insurance, you won’t have to really think about it at all. Our jobs are to scrutinize your insurance policies to make sure you are always taking advantage of the best options.  While your insurance may be up to date and providing adequate coverage, it’s important to know that no car insurance can cover everything. Read this article to find out what is not covered by car insurance.  

Blog Feature

Personal Auto | Individuals & Families | Learning Center | individuals and families

By: Corin Cook
May 14th, 2020

Maybe you just bought a car. Maybe you aren’t happy with your current insurance provider. Or maybe your policy is expiring and you simply want to know your options. Regardless of the reason, something brought you here, which means you’re probably considering buying auto insurance. At Berry Insurance, we help people get new policies or adjust their current policies every day, so this is right in our wheelhouse, but if you aren’t familiar with the process, we know how confusing it can be. That’s why we want to help you understand the process step-by-step below, so when you come to us (or another agent or carrier) you are more informed and confident about the insurance policy you are investing in. Since we are in Massachusetts, we’re going to specifically look at the MA process, so depending on where you live, some parts may vary. 1. Pick an insurance provider: You wouldn’t buy a car without doing your research first, right? Well, you should treat shopping for car insurance the same way. Of course, if you’re reading this, that means you have already started your research, so good for you. When beginning your research, the first thing you should consider is … Which type of insurance provider to work with: First, you’ll want to research the various types of insurance providers (direct writer, captive insurance agent, or independent insurance agent) and weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which option works best for you.  We’ll provide a short description of each to help you get started … Direct Writer A direct writing insurance company is a company that can give you a quote online or over the phone, but does not work through an intermediary, like an agent. Examples of direct writers for auto insurance are GEICO or Progressive.  If you are looking for an auto policy in a hurry, and don’t want to shop around, then buying direct might be your best bet. You’ll likely remove any potential for back and forth conversations, can do all your shopping either online or over the phone. Captive Insurance Agent A captive insurance agent represents only one insurance company and can only offer a quote with that one company. Examples of captive agents are State Farm, AllState, and Farmers Insurance. If you are looking to work with someone more local, but who represents a nationally known insurance company, then buying through a captive might be the way to go. Independent Insurance Agent Independent insurance agents (sometimes referred to also as brokers) represent multiple insurance companies and can provide you with multiple quotes. An example of an independent insurance agent would be us here at Berry Insurance, and many other local insurance agents you see as you drive through your town. If you want to have multiple quotes or options for your auto insurance, shopping with an independent agent is the way to go. Agents are more likely to spend more time discussing your needs, and providing quote options that provide the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Once you have an idea of which type of provider you want to use, the next step is to … Choose a specific provider: You can begin by searching the internet for specific agents or carriers in your area.  Read reviews for the companies on websites like Google Business or Facebook and ask for their credentials to be sure you are working with a reputable company. Decide what is most important to you in a provider: Convenience? Hours? Online capabilities? Customer service? Consider what your priorities are and choose an agency or carrier who aligns with those. 2. Provide information to the insurance provider: Once you have decided who you are going to work with, it’s time to reach out to them to get a quote. The agent or representative you are working with will ask you for all sorts of information including: Name Date of birth Driver’s License number Address Information about other drivers in the household Information about any accidents or violations Vehicle information/who drives each vehicle Loan information about each vehicle Information to determine eligibility for discounts Questions about coverage/limit/deductible options (which we’ll get into more below) Often, it will make the most sense to bundle your auto policy with your home or renters policy because it saves money. If this is the case, you would also need to provide information about your home or apartment and possessions. 3. Discuss and choose coverage/limit/deductible options: Auto insurance policies have various coverages, some required and some optional, all with coverage limits. Your agent or carrier should go over all the coverages with you, and help you determine which you need, and what their limits and deductibles should be. Required coverages: Coverage Name Description Part 1 – Bodily Injury to Others (aka BI) Provides medical expenses and lost income to anyone that you injure when at fault in an auto accident in Massachusetts. The coverage has two limits: per person and per accident. In Massachusetts, you are required to have $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. You cannot increase (or decrease) this coverage. Part 2 – Personal Injury Protection (aka PIP) If you are involved in an accident, regardless of fault, PIP coverage will pay for any medical bills and lost wages for you and your passengers. The Massachusetts state set amount for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is $8,000 per person, but deductibles from $0 to $8,000 may apply. You cannot increase (or decrease) this coverage. Part 3 – Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto (aka UM) If you are involved in an accident with someone that does not have insurance coverage or are involved in a hit-and-run incident, uninsured motorist coverage would pay the claim. The coverage has two limits: per person and per accident. In Massachusetts, you are required to have $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. You cannot decrease this coverage, but you can choose higher limits. Part 4 – Damage to Someone Else’s Property (aka Property Damage) If you are involved in an accident and cause damage to any type of property, this coverage is what will pay the claim. Keep in mind – “property” can be more than just another vehicle. Damage to things like telephone poles, guardrails, structural damages to home or storefronts, fences, stone walls, and even mailboxes are all considered “property.”. In Massachusetts, the state minimum required coverage is $5,000. You cannot decrease this coverage, but you can choose higher limits. Optional insurance coverages: Coverage Name Description Part 5 – Optional Bodily Injury to Others (aka OBI) Provides medical expenses and lost income to anyone that you injure when at fault in an auto accident anywhere in the U.S. The coverage has two limits: per person and per accident. The minimum coverage available is $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. You can increase this coverage. Part 6 – Medical Payments (aka Med Pay) Provides reasonable medical expenses for anyone occupying your vehicle at the time of an accident. The minimum coverage available is $5,000 per person. You can increase this coverage.  Part 7 – Collision Provides coverage for damages to your vehicle as a result of a collision accident, regardless of fault. This coverage is subject to a deductible, which at a minimum is typically $300. You can increase your deductible for additional savings. Part 8 – Limited Collision Provides *limited* coverage for damages to your vehicle as a result of a collision accident. This coverage is subject to a deductible, which at a minimum is typically $300. You can increase your deductible for additional savings. * Typically you purchase either Part 7 or Part 8 on your policy, not both. At our agency, we always recommend Part 7 to get the broadest available coverage. Part 9 – Comprehensive (aka Comp) Provides coverage for damages to your vehicle caused from something other than a collision (ex. Flood, fallen objects, hail, pests, or collision with animals). This also includes glass coverage. This coverage is subject to a deductible, which at a minimum is typically $300. Glass repair typically does not have a deductible. You can increase your deductible for additional savings. Part 10 – Substitute Transportation (aka Rental) Provides coverage for rental charges you incur while your vehicle is being repaired as a result of a collision. The minimum coverage available is $15 per day up to $450. You can increase this coverage. (Note: This coverage does not reimburse for rental fees for other situations, such as vacation rentals.) Part 11 – Towing & Labor Provides coverage for towing and labor (at the scene) costs associated with your car disablement. Coverage available varies by insurance company. The coverage per disablement typically ranges from $50 to $100. Part 12 – Bodily Injury Caused by an Underinsured Auto (aka UIM) If you are involved in an accident with someone that does not have enough insurance coverage, underinsured motorist coverage would pay the claim. The coverage has two limits: per person and per accident. In Massachusetts, you are required to have $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. You can choose higher limits on this coverage. 4. Select a payment plan: Once you have selected all your coverages and limits, your agent or carrier will give you a quote for the cost of the policy. At this point you will have several options of how to pay available to you including monthly installments, pay in full, or through electronic funds transfer (EFT) or automated clearing house (ACH).  Paying in full or through EFT or ACH could save you money on billing fees. Most insurance companies require a 20% deposit for a new policy. And that’s it! You have your new policy. At this point, the only thing you will need to do is be ready to … 5. Renew when term expires: Most policies have a one-year term, but some are only six months. When you get your new policy, make sure you know what the term is so you are ready to renew. Most agents or carriers will call you to review your policy and renew for you, but it is best to also be keeping track yourself.  Ready? Get shopping for car insurance: After learning about how the car insurance buying process works, we hope you feel a little more equipped to research your options and navigate the process. We know there is a lot to consider, specifically when it comes to the optional coverage and limits. I mean, how do you know what coverages are actually worth your money and how much of each you should get? For a more detailed look at this, check out the article How Much Car Insurance Do I Need? (And Why the State Minimum Isn’t Enough). Of course, we at Berry are also always here if you have any questions.    

Blog Feature

Business Insurance | Learning Center

By: Corin Cook
May 12th, 2020

Is it time to apply for business insurance? Maybe you’re starting a new business, or have had changes in your business structure or operations. Maybe you just aren’t happy with your current insurance price or service. Whatever it is, you have determined it is the right time to shop for or update your business insurance. Getting business insurance is much like everything else associated with running a business — it’s complex. Because so many factors determine your insurance needs, risks, coverages and costs, insurance companies need a lot of information before they can provide your policy.  Some of it you might know off the top of your head or have easily at hand, but other information might be a little more challenging to get your hands on.  That’s where we at Berry Insurance come in. We have navigated the business insurance application process with thousands of clients, so we know everything you need and how to get it.  Before you apply, let’s go over what you will need so the process will be as smooth and efficient as possible. Business operations information:  To get an accurate quote on your business insurance, your agent or carrier will need to have a good understanding of your business operations.  For example, if you’re a contractor, just knowing that you’re an electrician is not enough. You’ll need to know what percentage of your operations is business vs. residential, if you’re doing any high voltage work, any work on ladders or scaffolding, any alarm installation, if you use subcontractors, etc.  Depending on your industry, you will be asked a variety of questions.  If you don’t know the answers right away, that’s OK, but it’s always best to go into the application process with a good understanding of your operations so you don’t have to seek answers and extend the process. Being as specific as you can will ensure that your agent knows exactly which insurance companies are willing to provide quotes based on operational exposures alone.  Ownership and experience information:  In addition to questions about your business operations, you will also be asked questions about yourself, specifically in regards to years in business and years of experience. The carrier wants to know about the owners and sometimes the employees to better analyze risks and determine your quote. The better your resume, the better the chances of getting a lower quote.  Financial data:  Be prepared to provide numbers. Your insurance agent or carrier will ask about your business’ estimated annual revenues, payroll, subcontracted costs, business property, and inventory levels.  Keep in mind that these figures are based on your policy term, which may or may not coincide with your fiscal period.  You don’t need to provide any proprietary reports, but you do want to give your best estimate of these numbers based on the policy term, as your policy may be audited at the end of the policy term and you could be penalized if your projection was incorrect. Contracts:  If you use any contracts with clients, you’ll likely be asked to provide a sample of one for the insurance company to review so they can make sure you have the proper controls built into your contract to protect your business against potential claims or lawsuits. If you don’t have a contract, but provide any type of professional or other services, you may be asked to get a contract written before you can obtain a quote.  So if you don’t have one, now is the time to consider calling your attorney! Claims history:  You will be asked for copies of your “loss runs”, which is a fancy insurance term for a report that shows any insurance claims that have been filed for your business.  Most insurance companies will want to see a minimum of 3 to 5 years of claims history from all of your policies.  The insurance agent you are working with can help you draft a letter to request these reports from your existing insurance agent, but you should know that this step can delay the quoting process significantly if you are unable to get the reports.  Copies of current policies:  While not necessary to quote, having copies of your existing policies can help the insurance agent review what you have and identify any areas where you may have gaps in coverage. And let’s be honest, a lot happens in a year. Reviewing your existing policies may trigger a reminder to add or remove equipment, vehicles, etc. Applications:  Even after providing all of the items we outlined already, you may be asked to complete an application. We know, this is the last thing you have time for. Thankfully, much of what you’ve already provided can be filled in ahead of time, leaving you with only a few unique operational questions and industry-specific questions left to answer. Be equipped for your new insurance: So there you have it.  It may seem like you need a lot to apply for business insurance, but that’s because there is a lot that goes into determining your quote and the right coverages. If you have all these items ready to go before applying, the process should be smooth sailing. But if not, that’s what we’re here for. The Berry agents have been through this thousands of times, so we can help guarantee you the coverage you need in no time.  Want to simplify the process even further? Download the worksheet below to use as you prepare the materials you need to apply for business insurance.  

Blog Feature

Business Insurance | Learning Center

By: Corin Cook
May 8th, 2020

Owning a business takes a lot of work, and getting the right insurance coverage for it doesn’t make it any easier. If anyone understands, it’s us at Berry Insurance. For one, we are a business, so we ourselves have to make sure we have the insurance we need to be completely protected. On top of that, we also help several businesses ranging in industry and size get the individualized insurance they need every day — it is our job after all.  Depending on your business, you will need a variation of several different types of business insurance, such as general liability, property, workers compensation, commercial auto, professional liability and more. Sometimes, it might be obvious when you need these new business insurance policies because it is often a prerequisite to completing other business tasks. Other times, it might not be so obvious, but if you don’t switch at the right time, you could have gaps in coverage and be faced with an uncovered claim or audit issue. Let’s go over all the scenarios that may mean it’s time to shop for business insurance. Before you open a business: Obviously, before you open your business to any clients, you’ll want to make sure you’re insured. There are a lot of risks to running a business, and there’s really nothing like a large out-of-pocket expense or a lawsuit to start your business off on the wrong foot. Changes in operations: If something changes about the way you operate your business, such as the services you provide or the products you sell, you might need to make changes to your insurance policies. Having more products or services means you likely have new equipment or inventory you need covered. You may also need to adjust your limits if the risks associated with your operational changes have altered. Changes in staffing/payroll levels: Your insurance carrier likely uses your staffing and payroll levels to determine both your limits and your premium on certain types of business insurance. If your staffing or payroll levels change, it may be time to shop for insurance.  In some cases, it may be sufficient to just adjust the limits on your current policies. Check with your insurance agent to see what is the best option for you. Changes in revenues: Similar to payroll and staffing levels, revenues also play a role in determining your insurance limits and premiums.  If your business’ revenue changes, your insurance policy also needs to change, whether it be through updates to your current policies, or a new one. Changes in ownership/business structure: Sometimes, when there are changes in the ownership of a business, the current commercial insurance policies will simply need to be updated, but if the change involves a shift to a different organization type, you might need a whole new policy altogether. For example, if your business is transitioning from a partnership to a corporation, or if it involves a merger with another organization, you will almost certainly need a new policy because so many factors will change.  Territory changes: If you have any territory changes, such as moving, or beginning to offer services in new states, you will need to change your insurance policy. Expanding offerings comes with additional risks and every state has different laws and insurance requirements, so you’ll need to make sure your insurance is up to par. New contracts: New contracts = new risks. If you have new partnerships, you probably need more covered. Some partners might even require you to have certain insurance limits to ensure they are protected. When you’ve had an uncovered claim: If you’ve had an uncovered claim, that is usually a sign your insurance isn’t adequate. It could mean your limits are too low, or you are missing coverage or a seperate type of insurance and it’s probably time for a new policy. When you aren’t getting adequate service: Nothing is worse than the headache of poor service.  If you feel like you aren’t being properly supported or treated by your insurance company, it might make sense to start shopping for a new policy. When your premium has increased significantly: Annual increases in premiums are common in the insurance world, but if your premium has unjustifiable increased significantly, there might be better options out there for you. Renew your insurance, even if nothing changes: If you do not have a need to shop for new business insurance mid-term, you will still need to renew your policies every once in a while. Typically, business insurance policies will last one year until you have to renew. But don’t worry — If you are insured with us, we will reach out to check if anything changed for your business and renew your policy for you. As you can see from the content above, there is a lot that goes into business insurance. With all these concerns, you might be wondering if a small agent is actually a good fit for you.. We answer all that and more in this article to help you find out if Berry is right for your business needs.  

Blog Feature

Business Insurance | commercial insurance | Learning Center

By: Corin Cook
May 5th, 2020

So, you’re trying to determine the best way to insure your business … we understand that’s a big decision for you. As I’m sure you have figured out by now, there are a lot of risks in running a business, so the chances you will actually need to use this insurance at some point is much greater than the chance you will need to use your personal insurance. We know you want to choose the right insurance, whether it be through a direct, nationally-known brand, or that local independent insurance agency in your neighborhood. At Berry Insurance, we understand your dilemma, because, well for one, we are a business ourselves and we share your concerns, but also because we are in the insurance industry and understand both the benefits and problems with each option. Listen, we’re more than a little biased toward independent insurance agencies (especially ours). We know we come to work every day with the goal of providing the best possible options to our clients. But we also know insurance isn’t one size fits all and it would be naive of us to think local agencies are the best fit for everyone. We understand the advantages of a large, national, well-known insurance company, especially when it comes to commercial insurance. However, we also know there are many gaps of information and misconceptions when it comes to insuring your business through a small agency, (especially regarding convenience, accessibility, and capabilities) and we want to make sure you are informed before you make your decision. While we certainly can’t speak for every agency out there, we can definitely address all of your concerns for you as they pertain to Berry Insurance.  Can a small agency handle a large commercial insurance policy? “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” As is the case with many things in life, Shakespeare said it best. In the insurance world, size does not matter — experience does. And in our case, Berry Insurance has been around since 1922, so we’ve seen it all. Our five-member commercial lines team has more than 50 years of experience between them, so essentially, they are the commercial insurance dream team (at least that’s what I like to call them). They’ve helped our business clients navigate a myriad of insurance claims and issues, both simple and complex. Currently, 55% of our clients are businesses while 45% are individuals and families. We serve businesses and organizations across a variety of industries and sizes, ranging from a handful to thousands of employees. While we understand the concern that a small agency might not be equipped to handle larger policies, it’s simply not a valid one.  Can a small agency provide quick, online quotes? If we’re being completely candid, no we can’t. BUT, don’t tune out just yet. We realize that perhaps the main disadvantage of a small agency like us is that we cannot provide instant, online quotes. We know in this day and age everyone is busy and wants instant gratification. Or maybe you would rather not make a phone call for something that can instead be done online while multitasking with one of the other tasks on your growing to-do list. We know how it is. However, there are some benefits from getting a quote from a real person (rather than a computer) and it could actually result in more convenience down the road. At Berry Insurance, we have nine employees total. (OK, we make double digits if you count our Chief Barketing Officer, Shredder.)  While our size may sound like a disadvantage, what that really means for you is that you’ll have one person assigned to you who knows all the ins and outs of your insurance policy. That means when you do have a question or an issue, you won’t be on hold for hours and bounced around from person to person. You also will always be connected to a live person during business hours — no frustrating automated phone systems here! Remember that phone call you didn’t want to make to get an insurance quote earlier? It’s sounding a lot better now, isn’t it? Having a real person as your agent also means the quoting process will be much more thorough and accurate. Online insurance quoting uses artificial intelligence to gather information about you from online databases. If the information they are collecting isn’t accurate, your quote might not actually be fully covering you.  These systems also tend to provide minimum coverage limits and leave out some optional coverages. While your policy will be legal to state requirements, it may have some gaps that could leave you with a significant out-of-pocket bill if you were to have an insurance claim. Plus, as an independent agent, we work with several insurance companies, which means we can shop around for you, looking for the best rate. When working with an independent agent, they can evaluate your business’ needs and discuss your options with you to make sure you have sufficient coverage for a great value.  Can I trust a name that’s not nationally-known? We certainly understand the appeal of a large, national company.  With millions of clients, they have to be well-vetted, right? Well yes, they probably are, but you also probably aren’t getting the extra perks and attention you get from an independent agency. For Berry, our goal as an agency is to help you sleep a little better, by providing a consultative approach to not just your insurance needs, but also many other areas of your business.  We have access to an online HR platform that can help your business satisfy regulations and build templates for documents and forms you need in your business. We also have an online risk services tool, which can provide you with safety tips, business assessments, and industry tips to keep your employees safe and productive.  In addition to these resources, we offer free insurance education courses through the Center for Women & Enterprise, where any business owner (not just women) can attend and learn the ins and outs of business insurance basics, and other topics such as writing a business plan, understanding financial statements, digital marketing and more.  Our owner Kaitlyn also helps many of our business clients with marketing consulting, and would be happy to discuss ways and ideas to help grow your business.  Bottom line? You are more than just a client to us. We want to help you grow and thrive in your business, and we are always seeking ways to help you do just that. And like we said, Berry has been around for almost a century. If longevity is any indication of reliability … you can certainly trust us. Will I be able to reach a small agency during non-business hours? Our business hours at Berry are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For most insurance agencies, this is fairly standard. We know what you’re thinking. How am I supposed to work out an insurance issue if I’m working during the only hours you’re open? Am I supposed to take time off? And what if I have an emergency outside of business hours? Don’t let our normal business hours dissuade you. Despite what our business listing says, we are always there for you. We have a 24-hour emergency claims line set up for your convenience. If you have a claim-related emergency, just call us at (508) 528-5200 and leave a message in our Claims Voicemail Box. It will notify someone on our team right away, and we’ll be in touch ASAP.  If you have a question not pertaining to a claim, you can leave us a phone message, send us an email, or submit your question online and we’ll be in touch the next business day (but typically much sooner).  Is it convenient to work with an agency with only one location? Unless it is really a priority for you to have an agency nearby so you can speak to your agent in person regularly, our location shouldn’t really be too much of a factor in your decision. While we love meeting with our clients, it is not necessary for you to come to our office. We’re able to complete all your documentation electronically through email and our secure e-signature platform.  We are also equipped to run video meetings as well if you want the face-to-face experience without taking a trip to the office. Of course, if you want to come into the office, there is no appointment needed. Our door is always open for you. But if convenience is what you’re looking for, we are able to handle everything for you online. Working with a local agency also means your agent will know the ins and outs of your specific state laws, versus the national companies which may not be as informed. Do agencies have any notaries? Phew, finally an opportunity to show that I’m not always so long-winded. This is a simple one: Yes! We do! No need to worry about a lack of notaries here! Can independent agencies complete registry of motor vehicle tasks? As a general practice our agency does not offer registry runs. Some agencies may offer registry services for a fee, but direct writers do not.  That being said, there are times when having us handle your registration needs will allow you to get up and running faster. If that’s the case, and we have the manpower, we are happy to assist you with your needs. We also stay up-to-date on registry changes and guidelines to guide you and help make your registry trips as quick and efficient as possible. Small … but dynamic: We may not be nationally known, be able to quote online, or have 24/7 office hours. And that’s not going to change anytime soon. But when working with us or a similar independent insurance agency, you get thorough and relevant insurance options from several reputable carriers, along with responsive and attentive customer service and customized solutions. Only you know your business’ needs, so deciding which of the scenarios sounds best is simply up to you. If you’re looking for more specific information about commercial insurance, check out our learning center, or feel free to reach out with your questions and we’ll help you out as best as we can.

Blog Feature

Individuals & Families | Learning Center | Home Insurance | mold | individuals and families

By: Corin Cook
April 30th, 2020

We’ve all been there.  Suddenly you notice that dreaded black, brown, white, green, yellow, grey, or even red (yuck, why are there so many colors?!) growth in your basement, bathroom, or another high-humidity area of your home. In fact, at Berry Insurance, we regularly receive calls from our clients, inquiring if their insurance covers mold growth in their home (especially during this wet, rainy time of year). The thing is, mold has many causes, and whether or not mold damage is covered by your home insurance is based on its origin. Typically, mold damage is only covered if it is caused by a “covered peril,” meaning a water damage situation already covered under your homeowners policy, but with so many opportunities for water damage and mold growth, it may be difficult to understand when it is and isn’t covered. Below, we’ll talk about various mold damage situations and explain which are and are not  likely to be covered by your insurance. How mold damage happens: Mold is essentially a common fungus that grows on various surfaces in the presence of water or humidity. It develops on paper, tiles, wood, fabric and other materials that have been exposed by moisture, making it technically “water damage.” Therein lies the answer to whether or not mold is covered by your homeowners insurance. If mold is water damage, and you understand how your homeowners insurance covers water damage, you know how it covers mold. Don’t know when water damage is and isn’t covered under your home insurance policy? That’s OK — let’s get into it. When water damage (mold) is covered by homeowners insurance: Homeowners insurance generally covers a wide range of water damage situations, including mold damage and removal, if they are considered “sudden and accidental.” Sudden or Accidental Discharge Homeowners insurance covers sudden water discharge, such as from a burst pipe, water heater rupture, or washing machine or dishwasher failure. That means if a pipe bursts in your basement and causes mold, those damages would likely be covered through your insurance. Overflow If water overflows from a clogged toilet or sink (it happens to the best of us) and causes mold damage, that damage will be covered by homeowners insurance. Storm-Related Water Damage Homeowners insurance will also cover any water damage resulting from storms such as hurricanes, snow/ice, tornadoes, and more. For instance, inclement weather causes a tree to fall on your home, insurance will also cover the mold and any other types of water damage resulting from the incident. Mold caused by high humidity or rain simply seeping into your home or flooding your basement is not covered, but we’ll get into that more below. Sewer backup or water backup (available at an additional cost) While not automatically covered in your homeowners insurance policy, water backup coverage can be included for an additional cost. This insurance will cover mold and other damage if a pipe, drain, sewer line or sump pump backs up and causes an overflow in your home. This is different from the “overflow” coverage listed above because the backup occurs deeper within the plumbing system than the drain.  When water damage (mold) isn’t covered by homeowners insurance: Typically, it is rare for mold to be caused by one of the covered scenarios above because the water will usually be cleaned up before the mold develops. Mold damage is usually caused by a situation that is not covered by home insurance, which we will explain below. Gradual damage As we already mentioned, homeowners insurance typically only covers water damage that is sudden and accidental, so gradual water damage, or water damage resulting from poor maintenance usually isn’t covered. For example, if you have a small drip under your kitchen sink that you ignore for months, the mold it will eventually cause on your cabinets, floors, walls, or ceilings is considered gradual. Because the leak could have been easily fixed before it caused any damage, insurance companies will not pay for this type of claim Some gradual mold damage causes include: Water seepage into your home from cracks in the foundation Leaks around roofs, windows, and doors Leaks in plumbing Poor or improper installation of appliances or units such as ventilation systems In most cases, mold growth is caused by gradual damage. If this is the case for you, it will not be covered by insurance. Flood damage Homeowners insurance does not cover damage from floods, which can have a variety of causes including thawing snow, a rain storm, a river or creek overflowing, or even a neighbor’s pool draining into your home. If you want to be protected from flood damage, you will need to buy a separate flood insurance policy. If you have flood insurance, mold caused by floods will be covered under that insurance.  Know your home insurance limits and options: If you do have a covered mold claim, your homeowner’s insurance deductible you selected when you got your policy will apply before coverage kicks in. In some cases, the cost to repair your mold damage may be less than your deductible, so you may not want to file a claim. You will also only be paid up to the dwelling and personal property coverage limits on your policy. Usually, there is also a $10,000 limit for hidden/unseen mold. For example, let’s say a tree falls on your home and water gets in. If the contractor comes in and starts tearing down the walls and there is mold behind walls, which could have been there a long time, that mold could be covered up to $10,000. Check with your agent or insurance company to see what your specific deductibles, limits, and options are. Stay mold free: Every mold scenario has various factors and it is impossible to know if it will be covered without speaking to your insurance agent or carrier. If you’re dealing with a mold problem, reach out to us so we can best advise you about if filing a claim is a wise option. Unfortunately, if we’re being honest, in many mold cases you will simply be out of luck with it not being covered by insurance.  However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do to avoid the unsightly damage.Evaluate your home’s water vulnerabilities and take steps to prevent water damage, then hopefully you won’t find yourself questioning if that mold damage in your home is covered by insurance.