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Berry Insurance Blog

Real People, Real Risks, Real Results

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Individuals & Families | Learning Center | RV Insurance | personal insurance

By: Corin Cook
October 2nd, 2020

There’s an insurance policy for everything nowadays, isn’t there? Well, RVs are no exception. Since recreational “vehicles” are technically vehicles, you might assume you can add it on to your auto insurance policy … and you’d be wrong. But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. At Berry Insurance we’ve helped many clients get the coverage they need to protect their prized adventure chariots, so we can help you too.  Before you jump into committing to a new policy though, we want you to learn more about RV insurance, so you know what to expect in your coverage. Read on to learn everything from what it covers, to how much to expect to pay. How does RV insurance work? If you are at all familiar with car insurance, then you probably already know a lot about RV insurance. RV insurance works a lot like car insurance: it offers collision, comprehensive, liability coverage, and more for your recreational vehicle. It protects you, the RV owner, from significant out-of-pocket expenses (from either damage or injury) if your RV were to be involved in an accident. If your RV were to be in an accident, under RV insurance, you would simply contact your insurance agent and provide them information about the accident so they can help you file a claim and be reimbursed for the damages or injuries up to the limits you select on your policy. What does RV insurance cover (and not cover)? As is the case with any insurance policy, RV insurance has certain exclusions, limitations, and optional coverages you’ll want to know about before hitting the road with your RV. RV insurance typically covers: Injuries to someone else for an accident you cause in MA  Medical bills and lost wages for you and your passengers Any damage done to someone else’s vehicle or property Coverage if you are involved in a hit-and-run Coverage if you are hit by an uninsured driver Damages to your recreational vehicle (optional) Injuries to someone else for an accident you cause outside of MA (optional) Glass or windshield replacement (optional) Coverage if you are hit by someone with minimal insurance (optional) Towing (optional) RV insurance doesn’t typically cover: Damage from negligence or lack of vehicle maintenance Personal property in your RV Intentional bodily injury or property damage Do I need RV insurance? In Massachusetts, if you have an RV, you are required to have an RV policy with at least liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage at the state minimum required limits. However, you will probably need a lot more than that. Without a substantial car insurance policy, you may have several gaps in coverage and could find yourself with a significant out-of-pocket bill if you were to have a claim.  As we mentioned, in Massachusetts, you are required to at least have liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for your RV, but you may also need optional coverages such as collision, comprehensive, towing, and more.  Choosing your coverage limits and optional coverages depends on the features of your RV, your perceived risks, and financial comfort. Since every RV and personal situation is so different, the best way to get a good idea of how much RV insurance you need is by talking with an insurance agent. We will say however, since an RV is a large investment and is capable of significant damage, we usually recommend a pretty substantial policy to avoid a costly out-of-pocket expense. How much does RV insurance cost? The cost of RV insurance can vary significantly based on RV features, frequency of use, driving history, and the coverages, limits, and deductibles you select. Generally, an RV policy will cost around $1,000 – $2,500 per year ($83 – $208 monthly). Keep your RV moving toward your next adventure I’m sure you already know your RV is a huge investment. If you’re spending all that money on something that’s intended to add value to your family’s lives, you want to make sure it is properly covered with a comprehensive RV insurance policy. While you’re at it, if you’re getting a new RV insurance policy, it might also be a good time to review all of your personal insurance policies, to make sure everything is up to date and covering you how you want it to.

Blog Feature

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

By: Corin Cook
October 2nd, 2020

If you’re not familiar with the rules of auto insurance, they can be confusing. For example: How do you know if you need to add someone else onto your auto policy? Actually, this rule happens to be fairly straight-forward. Generally, if someone is licensed, lives with you, and has regular access to your car, you should add them to your policy. This includes spouses, roommates, teenage children, or any other person living in your home. It’s when you need to add someone to your insurance that the questions get a little more complex. For instance, how will the new driver affect your insurance? Is your premium going to skyrocket? At Berry Insurance, we’ve worked through this scenario many times and truth be told, the result is a little different each time. But there are some patterns we’ve noticed.  Whether it’s a new teen driver, or an adult with an established driving record, we want to prepare you as best we can so you know what to expect when you add a new driver to your policy. Adding a teen or new driver Did your child just get a permit? A license?  You might be wondering how it will affect your insurance, or if you need to make any adjustments.  Here’s what you need to know: Child with a permit: If your child just got your permit it should actually not affect your insurance. If you have a permitted driver using your car, you will however have an increased chance of your insurance premium increasing since a new driver is more likely to get in an accident. If a permitted driver gets in an accident in your vehicle, you will be surcharged and your insurance will increase. Once the driver gets their license, the surcharge transfers over to them. So, while you don’t need to make any changes to your insurance when your child gets a permit, you may still want to let your agent know so you can make sure you have adequate coverage. With the increased risk, you may want to consider maximizing your coverages, or even obtaining umbrella insurance to ensure you’re prepared for any potential claims. We suggest getting an umbrella policy before your child gets their license, as there is a chance some carriers might have restrictions for new drivers. Child with a license: Once your child gets a license, you have 60 days by law to inform your insurance carrier. In most cases, because an insurance carrier will see a new driver as a greater risk, your insurance premium will increase, sometimes significantly (up to 60% for a two-car family). However, the amount it increases isn’t always predictable. There are 4 different ownership scenarios that will affect the cost of car insurance for your newly licensed driver: Your child will use your existing car (or someone else’s car) on an occasional basis. Your child will use your existing car, and they will be listed as the principal driver. You purchase an additional car for your child to use, and they will be listed as the principal driver. You have your child buy a car in their name, and require them to purchase car insurance in their name as well. After your child initially gets their license, the insurance cost should reduce each year. After six years, the driver is no longer considered a new driver, so their experience will not affect your premium. In most cases, even though the teen driver will raise your insurance premium, it will still be more affordable than if they obtained a policy for themself alone. However, this may not always be the case. Many insurance companies offer new policy discounts that can actually make it a cheaper alternative! Confused yet? For a more accurate idea of how the new driver should affect you and what your options are, reach out to your insurance agent. Adding an adult driver Whether it be a spouse, partner, roommate, or otherwise, adding an adult driver with driving experience to your insurance policy is a little less predictable than adding a brand new driver. Depending on the driving record of the person you’re adding, your policy could increase, decrease, or stay roughly the same. If you add on someone with a poor driving record or of an age the insurance company considers a risk, your premium could increase. On the other hand, if you add a driver with a great driving record, it could actually cause your premium to decrease. For a more accurate idea of how an adult driver will affect your insurance, reach out to your agent. Ways to save: So, is adding a new driver to your car insurance policy increasing your premium? Before you shell out the cash, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the savings opportunities you have. Bundle policies If you aren’t already bundling your auto insurance policy with your other personal insurance policies, you should be because it is one of the simplest and most effective ways to save money. Many insurance companies offer incentives for the more business you provide them. By bundling your car insurance with other policies (such as homeowners/rental) within the same insurance company, you may be able to save approximately 5-25 % on your policies. Insure more than one car with the same policy or carrier (multi-car discount) Similar to bundling policies, you can also earn discounts for insuring more than one vehicle in the same household.  Shop around for rates Insurance prices differ from company to company, so if you feel like you’re paying a lot for car insurance, you might want to obtain quotes from a few different companies. Alternatively, you can also save money by maintaining your coverage with your insurance company, as some carriers offer price breaks for longtime customers, so you’ll want to check with your agent to see which option is best for you.  Pay via EFT/ACH or pay ahead Paying for your auto insurance through electronic funds transfer (EFT), automated clearing house (ACH), or paying the premium up front can eliminate billing fees. If you’re comfortable with your payment automatically withdrawing from your bank account each month, or if you can afford to front the premium, these methods can save you both time and money. Choose a higher deductible plan Of course, you can also lower your premium by selecting an auto insurance plan with a higher deductible.  Doing this means you’ll be paying less per month, but will have to pay more if you get in an accident, so if you select a higher-deductible plan, you’ll want to make sure you have enough money set aside in case you need to cover damages from an accident. Ask your agent about any discounts Auto insurance policies have several available discounts, and the new driver on your policy may even make you eligible! You can get a discount for doing the following: Being a member of an association (such as AAA, AARP, alumni associations, wholesale clubs, military organizations, honor societies, and more) Giving to a charity  Getting good grades (insurance companies reward both high school and college drivers for earning good grades) Being a safe driver (drivers without accidents or violations for a certain period – usually five years – can save hundreds on their insurance through a safe driver or good driver discount) Ask your agent if you are eligible for any discounts that aren’t already applied to your policy. Remove Optional Coverages Many insurance plans include optional coverages intended to provide services in specific scenarios. If these coverages do not apply to you, or if you have another service that provides similar coverage, you should not be paying the extra amount for them. Collision:  Collision insurance offers coverage to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. If your vehicle is older and the value is low enough that you could afford to repair or replace it if it were damaged or destroyed, you may want to remove collision insurance.  Keep in mind, if you are leasing your vehicle, or if it isn’t paid off, collision coverage is typically required. Substitute Transportation:  Substitute transportation insurance will pay for at least a portion of the cost of a rental vehicle if you need one due to a covered loss while it is being repaired or replaced (if you have collision insurance).  If you have an alternative vehicle you can use, or if you are able to go without your car for a period of time, you could remove substitute transportation. Roadside/towing: Many insurance companies offer roadside assistance or towing insurance if your car breaks down on the side of the road and you are unable to get it to a mechanic. If you have both roadside/towing and AAA, you are essentially paying for the same coverage twice, so choose one or the other. Enroll in telematics It’s no secret that technology is advancing and infiltrating almost every industry, but did you know it can also help save you money on your car insurance? Through telematics, insurance companies are using tracking devices to monitor driver data including speed, mileage, driving time, hard brakes, and more to determine if you are eligible for a discount. Pay-as-you-drive insurance models using telematics, such as Drive with Safety or N&Drive through Norfolk & Dedham, monitor driving habits to offer discounts up to 30% to cautious or low-mileage drivers.  Telematics can not increase your premium. At worst, your premium will stay the same, but you could get a discount. Make sure your insurance is protecting you and your loved ones  So know you know (more or less) what to expect when you add a new driver to your car insurance policy.  You also know some ways to save on insurance if your premium does increase. But if your insurance is no longer covering just you, you also may want to make sure you have enough insurance to cover all your risks. To learn more read How Much Car Insurance Do I Need? (And Why the State Minimum Isn’t Enough)

Blog Feature

Business Umbrella Insurance | Business Insurance | Learning Center

By: Corin Cook
September 24th, 2020

Did you know, between 36-56% of small businesses are involved in some type of litigation every year? And of those, 25% of judgments cost those businesses an average $500,000 or more? For most small businesses, a $500,000 expense is a huge financial detriment, and could even mean the end of the business.  While we all hope these situations never happen to us, the truth is … they can. So it’s best to be prepared. That’s where umbrella insurance comes in. Umbrella policies offer additional liability coverages for injuries, property damages, and lawsuits. At Berry Insurance, we’ve discussed umbrella policies with thousands of business clients. While we think the coverage is worth it for most businesses, it might not be the best fit for everyone and we want you to make that decision for yourself. Read below to learn more about commercial umbrella insurance before you make your decision. How does commercial umbrella insurance work? Sometimes known as an excess liability policy, commercial umbrella insurance supplements a business’ existing general liability insurance, commercial auto insurance, and workers compensation insurance. If a large claim exhausts your underlying coverage, your business umbrella insurance will cover the rest, up to the limit you choose.  In addition, a commercial umbrella policy will cover the legal fees you incur while defending or settling your lawsuit. And in some cases, it may even provide coverage you did not have with your underlying policies. For example, if you or one of your employees causes some sort of damages are sued for $1 million, but existing insurance policy only covers $500,000, the umbrella policy will cover the remaining $500,000.  Umbrella kicks in when other forms of insurance (general liability, commercial auto, workers compensation) exhaust and it covers up to the coverage limits on the policy. The coverage limit minimum for umbrella is $1,000,000, and additional coverage is available in $1,000,000 increments.  What does commercial umbrella cover (and not cover)? While commercial umbrella insurance extends insurance coverages in many areas, there are certain exemptions, exclusions, and limitations when it comes to coverage. What is typically covered? Bodily injury and property damage liability claims Commercial auto liability claims Employers liability claims Defense costs What typically isn’t covered? Intentional bodily injury or property damage Mistakes from your professional services or advice Damages to your business property Damages to your business vehicles Do I need commercial umbrella insurance? While nobody technically “needs” commercial umbrella coverage, we tend to recommend it for most businesses. We live in a litigious society, where the threats of a lawsuit are very real. And regardless of whether the lawsuit is valid, defending your business won’t be cheap and could cause a tremendous financial hardship.  To decide if this coverage is right for you, we recommend assessing how much risk you have and what types of business exposures you face. Here are a few things to consider when deciding if this coverage is right for you and your business: Do you have a substantial amount of assets that you want to protect in the event of a lawsuit? Does your business have any contractual obligations or services? Do you have employees? Do you have a business that is open to the public or your customers? Do you have any high-profile or high net-worth clients? Does any of your business require a lot of driving or deliveries? Does your marketing and branding, website or brochures make any promises or guarantees? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may have more of a risk than other businesses, which could put you at a higher chance for a lawsuit. Investing in an umbrella insurance policy may be the right choice to ensure you aren’t facing any large out-of-pocket expenses. How much does commercial umbrella insurance cost? So we know you don’t want to spend any more money on insurance for your company, but we have some good news for you. Commercial umbrella insurance probably does not cost as much as you think. In fact, it may even cost less than the underlying coverages you pay for. This is because your umbrella insurance coverage won’t kick in until your underlying coverage has been exhausted. As with every policy, the cost will depend on a variety of factors, including how much coverage you wish to buy, your business type, industry, location, gross revenues, gross payrolls, subcontractor labor costs, how many employees you have, and more. Depending on several factors, you can generally expect an umbrella insurance policy to fall somewhere between $200 to $3,000 or $16 to $250 per month. Protect your business and keep it thriving We know how important your business is to you. While you most likely will never need to use umbrella coverage, don’t you still want to be protected from the worst-case-scenario situations? Looking for a quote of what you may need for a comprehensive business insurance policy including umbrella insurance? Before you apply, check out this article What Information Do I Need for a Business Insurance Quote? It contains a worksheet that can help you prepare all the information you’ll need when you apply!

Blog Feature

Business Insurance | Learning Center | Professional Liability

By: Corin Cook
September 17th, 2020

If you’re a business owner, it can sometimes feel like you’re drowning in your insurance policies. I mean, why the heck are there so many types of insurance in the first place? How do you know which policies you actually need and which ones might not be worth your money? For example, if you have general liability insurance, there’s no way you need professional liability too, right? Well … not exactly. At Berry Insurance, we get that question all the time. We know you want to save money on your business insurance (we do too!), but we definitely don’t skimp on the professional liability insurance for ourselves and you probably don’t want to either. But we’ll let you decide for yourself: let’s get into everything you need to know about professional liability insurance before you commit to a policy. What exactly is professional liability insurance? Did you know 22% of business experience a client complaint or contract dispute. If one of these situations turns into a lawsuit (which is not uncommon in today’s litigious society), that’s where professional liability comes in.  Unlike general liability insurance, which covers bodily injury and property damage claims, professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance) covers claims made against your business as a result of the services you provide. Examples of these claims could be for negligence, misrepresentation or even inaccurate advice.  What does professional liability insurance cover (and not cover)? Just like any insurance policy, a professional liability insurance policy will not protect your business from everything. There are coverages, limitations and exclusions that you should be aware of before getting a policy. What is typically covered? Claims made against you from your professional services or advice Claims made against you from work done in the past Claims against your employees’ actions. What typically isn’t covered? Injuries to someone else for an accident you cause Damages to someone else’s property Advertising and personal injury coverage Work-related injuries or illnesses Electronic data/cyber liability Do I need professional liability insurance? In some states, and in some professions, professional liability insurance may be required. Or, you might even be required to have a professional liability policy as part of a contract with a vendor or client.  But even if it isn’t required, if you offer any type of advice or professional services, then our advice is yes, you should purchase this coverage. Even if you do nothing wrong, your client could still sue you if they believe they have been wronged in some way. Without professional liability insurance, the cost of legal fees and your precious time to defend yourself could be devastating. Still aren’t convinced? Here are some realistic examples (some of which we’ve seen) of situations requiring professional liability insurance to cover: A client sues their investment broker after a deal goes bad, even though the client knew the risks involved A mortgage broker forgets to disclose certain fees required of the client at closing A printer makes an error on a mass produced document for a client An architect makes an error in the design of a new home construction An interior designer works with a client on several variations of furniture designs, makes a mistake and orders the wrong furniture A client forms unrealistic expectations for a service’s work, and decides to sue when they don’t deliver on what they expected A business misses a deadline and the client doesn’t get what they need on time These are just a few examples of potential possibilities. You may think nothing like this could ever happen to you (and it might not), but mistakes happen, and you can even be sued when you’re not in the wrong, so we think if you have a business that serves clients, it’s best to be prepared with this coverage. How much does professional liability insurance cost? We know what you’re thinking: how much is a professional insurance policy going to cost me? Well the truth is, we can’t give you an accurate answer … at least until we become better acquainted with your business and its needs. Your business isn’t the same at the business next door, so your policy (and it’s price) is going to be specifically catered to you. A professional liability policy can vary significantly based on business type, industry, location, years in business, gross revenues, number of employees, coverage limits, existing or prior insurance coverages, and more; but you can generally expect it to fall somewhere between $400 to $2,000 per year or $32 to $166 per month. Protect yourself with the right business insurance for your unique risks I’m sure you know your business is not like any other business. Each business comes with it’s own unique features and associated risks. While protecting yourself from lawsuits associated with claims about your service is very important, you likely need a lot more than just a professional liability insurance to ensure a costly claim won’t put you out of business. A comprehensive set of business insurance policies catered to your needs can help you be covered through all your business needs. Looking for a quote of what you may need? Before you apply, check out this article What Information Do I Need for a Business Insurance Quote? It contains a worksheet that can help you prepare all the information you’ll need when you apply!

Blog Feature

Individuals & Families | Business Insurance | General Liability | Learning Center | Home Insurance | Workers Compensation | homeowners insurance | individuals and families | Personal Umbrella Insurance

By: Corin Cook
September 14th, 2020

2020 sure has been the year of getting creative — especially when it comes to schooling. When the country shut down in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers, school officials and parents scrambled to come up with a plan for remote learning for the remainder of the school year. Now that school is back in session after summer break, parents, teachers, and students are taking even more innovative approaches to learning. Some students are back in the classroom part-time, others are remote full-time. But some parents have also opted for hiring private teachers or tutors, or conducting “teaching pods” gathering a small group of students together under a home school instructor. At Berry Insurance, most of us have kids taking a new approach to schooling this year. We’ve also had several clients inquiring if their insurance will cover their teaching pods or home tutoring.  Since this is obviously something we’ve never had to confront in the century we’ve been in business, we reached out to our carriers to find out if this type of situation would be covered under existing homeowners insurance or if it would require supplemental insurance. And well … we got some mixed answers.  Let’s dive into what we discovered. What’s the insurance risk with home instruction? Your home insurance covers a whole slew of incidents that could happen in your home. It covers property damage, medical payments to others, and personal liability (if someone sues you for injuries). The more people you have in your home (like students or teachers) the more you are at risk for one of these situations happening, and the more your insurance company will see you as a risk. While we like to assume nothing will ever happen in our homes, it can and does, so you need to make sure you are prepared with the right insurance coverage. Are home school instructors covered under homeowners insurance? Many of the insurance situations we’ve had to confront during the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t been straightforward and well … neither is this one. When we asked our carriers if home school instruction is covered under homeowner’s insurance, many said this type of situation wouldn’t be an insurance problem. Given the pandemic, insurance companies know people are having to make teaching adjustments and are likely to be lenient during related insurance claims. However, some carriers said they would at least need to have the situation noted on file. On the other hand, some carriers did not have the same outlook.  Certain carriers are treating this unique homeschooling scenario as essentially a daycare situation and are cancelling policies if they learn of it and not writing any new policies with that kind of exposure. They did say that if the homeowners get a commercial liability policy that covers all the exposures associated with the education/daycare center with a minimum liability limit that at least matches the limit on the homeowner policy, they can renew the policies. So whether or not your specific policy will cover this situation? We don’t really know. You’ll have to reach out to your insurance agent with your specific scenario to find out if you’re covered or if you need to make one of the following changes. You might need a commercial liability policy As we mentioned above, your insurance company might require you to get a commercial liability policy in addition to your personal liability coverage over your homeowners insurance. Business general liability insurance is a type of business insurance policy that covers claims made against your business from someone who experienced bodily injury or property damage. It can also provide coverage for injuries sustained from your product, claims for libel, slander or defamation, and claims filed by your employees or other 3rd-parties. Since hiring a teacher is technically a business operation, commercial insurance could be the only way to cover risks associated with the home teaching. While the cost of liability insurance can vary, we estimate it would cost around $250 – $750 a year for a policy covering one teacher. Commercial liability not needed? Our suggestion: personal umbrella insurance If you don’t need a commercial liability policy, our suggestion is to get an umbrella insurance policy if you don’t already have one. Sometimes known as excess liability or personal liability, umbrella insurance supplements a policyholder’s existing liability coverages, such as auto, homeowners, renters, and condo insurance. It offers an extension of the policyholders existing coverages. Umbrella insurance covers the costs of damages or legal defenses arising from incidents leading to property damage or injury when the policyholder is considered responsible. Specifically, it protects you and your assets if you are found liable for damages beyond what your underlying policies will cover. Having an instructor in your home, or having other children learn in your home automatically creates additional liability risks. If something were to happen and you were to be sued by the teacher or parents of other students, without umbrella insurance, you could be stuck out-of-pocket costs. In our opinion, it’s definitely worth it to buy the protection, especially because it is relatively affordable. A $1 million personal umbrella policy may cost between $160 and $300 per year.  As you increase policy limits beyond $1 million, the premium cost increases in smaller increments.  For example a $2 million policy might only cost 1.8 times the cost of the million dollar one (rather than double), a $3 million dollar policy might cost 2.55 times the million dollar policy (rather than three times) and a $10 million dollar policy might cost 8.9 times the million dollar policy (rather than ten times). You may also want personal injury coverage While it may already be included on your homeowner’s policy, if it is not, you might want to add personal injury coverage. Personal injury is an optional coverage which provides protection if someone were to sue you for libel, slander, or defamation. In today’s society (especially with the prominence of social media), the chances of these types of claims are much higher.  We recommend this coverage in general, but would especially suggest it if you are bringing teachers and other students into your home. You probably also need workers compensation If you have a nanny, tudor, teacher or something similar that you are paying to serve your family, you are technically their employer (unless they are employed by an agency), which means you need workers compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical payments and a portion of lost wages for employees who become injured or ill due to work-related causes. It also protects the employer from liability for these work-related injuries or illnesses. In Massachusetts, all businesses (this includes individuals who employ home teachers) are required to have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Without coverage, employees could sue their employer for injuries or illness sustained on the job. For each person you employ, the base charge for workers comp is $141 per year. (With fees and state assessment charges, the total cost for one nanny on a $1 million policy is $285.) Protect your children and their educators We know you’ve already invested more than you should have had to into your child’s education this year, but don’t forget to invest in insurance to protect it all. While your homeowners insurance might be adequate for your new homeschooling situation, there’s a chance you will need an umbrella policy, commercial liability insurance, or workers compensation. And remember, how you need to change your insurance might not be the same as how the parents next door need to change their insurance. The best way to find out what you need is to contact your insurance agent so they can evaluate your specific situation. Even without having a home school instructor, remote learning alone may prompt changes to your insurance. Read this article to find out how remote learning will affect your personal insurance.

Blog Feature

Individuals & Families | Learning Center | Renters Insurance | individuals and families

By: Corin Cook
September 9th, 2020

It’s not uncommon to think you don’t need renter’s insurance. Since you don’t own the property you rent, damages from what happens to it shouldn’t be up for you to pay for, right? Well …not exactly. While your landlord’s policy protects the building you live in, your personal belongings are not covered under that policy. You also aren’t protected in any way from getting sued by others. At Berry Insurance, we work with all of our renter clients, getting them the protection they need for their possessions and liability, and we hope we can help you too! With that being said, now let’s get into everything you need to know before getting a renters insurance policy.  What exactly is renters insurance? While you may not own your living space, we know how important it is to you — after all, it’s the place you go to unwind or spend time with loved ones. We also know it holds all those important things you do own. While your landlord’s policy covers the building itself, a renters insurance policy pays for the repair or replacement of all your possessions (subject to your coverage limits and deductible) if they were to be damaged or lost to unforeseen incidents such as fires, storms, thefts, tree falls, and more.  It also covers you financially in the case of a liability or lawsuit. Each renters insurance policy is broken down into four sections that it covers. Your personal property — Essentially, your “stuff” is covered if it were to be damaged or stolen. Loss of use — Renter’s insurance will provide temporary housing if you were to be displaced by damages. Medical payments — Renters policies cover payments to those injured on your property. Personal liability — Renters covers if someone sues you from being injured on your property. *In some cases, you may be able to add personal injury coverage onto your policy. This provides protection against libel, slander, or defamation lawsuits. What does renters insurance cover? While you may assume renters insurance covers everything in your apartment and more, this may not be the case. MA renters insurance has limitations, exclusions, and optional coverages you’ll want to know about.  What it covers: Personal property, loss of use, medical payments, personal liability, and sometimes personal injury (as mentioned above) Storm damage — Whether it’s lightning, hail, high winds; renters protects against damage to your possessions resulting from most types of storms. Water backup — If the pipes back up, causing water damage in your home, renters will pay for the repair or replacement of your possessions. Theft — If someone steals your stuff, renters will pay for you to replace it. Fire damage — If a fire damages your possessions, you will be paid to replace it. What it doesn’t cover: Floods — While renters covers some types of water damage, damage from floods isn’t covered (hint: you may need flood insurance). Earthquakes — Earthquakes aren’t typically covered, but you can usually add it as an optional coverage.  High-risk dog breeds — Unfortunately, some dog breeds considered “high risk” will prohibit you from liability coverage if it were to bite someone. Some of the breeds most commonly deemed “high risk” are pittbulls, rottweilers, chow chows, presa canarios, akitas, doberman pinschers, wolf hybrids, mastiffs, and German Shepherds. Wear and tear — Gradual wear and tear is natural. If damage is the result of gradual deterioration, it is not covered. Damage from lack of maintenance — If damage could have been avoided if you had done something to prevent it, it won’t be covered by renters insurance. Intentional bodily injury or property damage — If you intentionally cause bodily injury or property damage, your insurance will not cover any lawsuits Any damages beyond your coverage  limits — Each section of your renters insurance policy has a limit to how much it will pay, and anything beyond it is not covered. However,  you could get an umbrella insurance policy to extend your limits on your liability coverage. Anything covered under your landlord’s policy — Your landlord has a policy covering the building structures and property. Anything included as part of those structures or property are covered under your landlord’s policy, not yours.  Do I need renters insurance? In some cases, your landlord or apartment complex may require you to have renters insurance, but often it is not required. However, we always recommend it for property and liability protection. Without renters insurance, you could lose a significant amount of your possessions through theft or a disaster. You could also be uncovered in a lawsuit if someone were to get hurt in your apartment, or even if someone accused you of libel, slander, or defamation. How much renters insurance do I need? When considering how much renters insurance to buy, you will need to make separate considerations for each section of the policy.  For personal property coverage, you’ll want to make sure your coverage limit pays for the cost of all your possessions, so you would be fully covered if there were to be a total loss. To figure this number out, you don’t need to work too hard. Just roughly estimate the value of your possessions, overestimating to ensure full replacement coverage. The average limit we usually see our clients choose is $35,000. Keep in mind, some policies may have limitations on covering items like jewelry or fine art. If you want to make sure these items are fully covered, you may want to pay an extra couple bucks to “schedule them” to make sure they are fully covered if they were to be damaged or stolen. For medical payments and personal liability, your limits are up to you. You’ll want to consider what your risk is of being sued, and how much you would want covered if you were to get sued.  Typically, we write policies with $5,000 of medical payments coverage and $1 million of liability coverages. These are actually the maximum coverages, but are generally worth the small price increase for adequate coverage. You also have the opportunity to obtain an umbrella insurance policy if you want an extension on the $1 million liability coverage. For a more accurate estimate, reach out to your insurance agent How much does renters insurance cost? Renters insurance costs can vary depending on building factors (such as age, materials, etc.) as well as the coverage amount you decide to purchase based on the value of the possessions you own. Somebody with valuable jewelry, art, etc. will pay much more for renters insurance than someone with minimal valuable possessions. The average cost of a renters insurance policy in MA is $194 (approximately $16 a month), but as we said, it can vary. Cover your valued possessions You’ve put a lot of time and effort into building the collection of items that make your home. Whether you have thousands of dollars in high-end possessions, or a humble assortment of thrift store pieces, if something were to happen to it, you would be a little lost, right? Or what if you got sued for tens of thousands of dollars (or even more) for an unexpected, unpreventable incident? We know you’re on a budget. Maybe you’re even trying to save up for a home and you don’t want to spend any extra money on your temporary apartment. We get it. But for a small amount of money each month, being covered from a costly situation with renters insurance is probably worth it.  If you think it’s time for you to get a renter’s insurance policy, you want to make sure you have the right coverage with the right carrier. Before you commit, check out this article What to Look for When Selecting an Insurance Company or Agency.