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Real People, Real Risks, Real Results

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

By: Corin Cook
September 3rd, 2020

We know how much your pets mean to you. I mean, SERIOUSLY trust us … we know. Most of our team members here at Berry Insurance have pets at home we adore, and when we’re in the office, we practically can’t stop giving love and attention to our two office dogs, Shredder and Rider. So it goes without saying, we think pets should be treated like part of the family. And we wouldn’t think about not getting health insurance for our children, so why should our fur babies go without? Pet insurance offers health insurance-like protection for our pets, paying for illnesses, accidents, and routine wellness that can certainly add up. In fact, veterinary bills can be as costly as medical bills, and often come much more frequently and unexpectedly. If you got a sudden costly veterinary bill, would you be comfortable paying it? 27% of pet owners say they would have to borrow or finance to pay for an unexpected expense. If this is you (and maybe even if it’s not), pet insurance might be right for you. Let’s get into everything you need to know about it. What is pet insurance? We all have health insurance to cover medical treatments we may need.  Pet insurance is the same concept, but for pets!  Most pet insurance policies cover cats and dogs (like the policies we can provide at Berry Insurance), but some insurance companies offer coverage for birds, reptiles and other pets.  There are four types of pet insurance policies that you can buy: accident-only, accident-illness, accident-illness with wellness, or wellness only. An accident-only policy will cover you for emergency care related to any accidental injuries. An accident-illness policy will cover you for any treatments and tests related to an accident or illness. A wellness only policy will cover you for yearly vaccines, check-ups and routine care visits. An accident-illness with wellness policy will cover you for all expected and unexpected treatments. What does pet insurance cover? Just like your health insurance, pet insurance won’t cover everything. There are some conditions (like pre-existing and others) that are excluded and there are policy limitations you’ll want to be aware of. Let’s take a look at what pet insurance covers and does not cover. What is covered? Accidents and illnesses Wellness care Hereditary/congenital conditions (optional) Alternative therapies (optional) Behavioral issues (optional) Chronic conditions Prescription medications Preventative care (optional) What is not covered? Liability or medical claims for humans (i.e. dog bites, etc.) Pre-existing health conditions Neutering/spaying Cosmetic procedures Breeding costs How does pet insurance work? When purchasing pet insurance, you can choose from a range of limits, deductibles and reimbursement percentages.  Under a pet insurance policy, you can work with whatever vet you are most comfortable with — no restrictions! Pet insurance coverage works on a reimbursement model. This means, if you have a policy, you will be responsible for payment of your pet’s treatment. Once paid, you can submit your veterinary bills and paperwork to your insurance company for reimbursement, based on your coverages, deductibles, and reimbursement percentage chosen.  Your insurance company may request additional paperwork from your veterinarian directly, and there may be a waiting period, typically a few days, before you will be reimbursed. Do I need pet insurance? Pet insurance is by no means necessary, but in many cases, it’s a wise choice to get it. If you’ve ever owned a pet, you know how easily they can get themselves into trouble. Also, as they grow older, you can only imagine the types of accidents or illness that may happen. Sometimes these can cost thousands in medical and further care. In fact, the average surgical expense for a dog per year is $426 and the average cost of an unexpected visit to the vet is $800 – $1,500. So if the potential of uncovered medical expenses could create a financial burden for you, or worse, prompt you to have to make a tough decision to stop treatment, then you definitely want to consider it.  Because pet insurance is relatively affordable, in many cases, you’ll save money in the long run having pet insurance. Speaking of money, that raises the next question … How much does pet insurance cost? The cost of pet insurance can vary greatly depending on breed, age, size, location, indoor/outdoor exposure, and coverages selected.  The rule of thumb is, the younger you insure your pet, the more affordable the coverage will be. Generally, you can expect to pay somewhere between $30 and $100 per month for pet insurance. Protect your furry friends Whether or not to buy pet insurance is every pet owner’s decision. For many, it may be a great way to save money on vet expenses, ensure you can pay for them in the first place, and avoid making tough decisions about your pet’s wellbeing. After all, you want your best friend to be by your side for as long as possible. If you have a new pet, it may also be a good time to review your personal insurance to make sure everything is up-to-date and adequately covered.

Blog Feature

Business Insurance | Learning Center | Business Auto

By: Corin Cook
August 28th, 2020

Running a business involves a lot of moving parts. One of those parts (which is actually quite literally moving) is your commercial vehicle(s). Whether you only use commercial vehicles once in a while, or all day, every day, without these vehicles, your company operations would have some serious road blocks, or even cease to operate altogether. So you need to treat these vehicles as important as they are and insure them! That’s where we come in! Over the years at Berry Insurance, we’ve set up thousands of organizations (of various industries and sizes) with a commercial policy tailored to their specific needs. Whether you have a single business vehicle, or a fleet of commercial trucks, we can also help you figure out everything you need to know about commercial auto insurance. Let’s get into it! What is commercial auto insurance? If you know anything about a personal car insurance policy, well, commercial auto works a lot like that! Except of course, the coverages protect your business vehicles and your liabilities associated with them, rather than your personal vehicles.  A business auto policy can be customized with the coverages that are relevant and necessary for your business operations, and will help protect you if sued as a result of you or your employees actions on the road. What does commercial auto insurance cover? Business auto insurance covers many vehicle-related incidents, but it does have some limitations, exclusions, and optional coverages you’ll want to know about before hitting the road. What is covered: Liability for bodily injuries or property damages caused by your company vehicle Physical damages to your company vehicle  Medical payments Coverage if you are involved in a hit-and-run Coverage if you are hit by an uninsured driver Hired auto liability for accidents caused with rented vehicles (optional) Non-owned auto liability for accidents from your employee using their car for your business (optional) Glass or windshield replacement  Driving for personal reasons (damage only) What is not covered: Business or personal property in your vehicle Mobile equipment Intentional bodily injury or property damage Completed operations (the work you have completed) Towing (optional) Rental reimbursement (Optional) Pollution Personal auto liability (optional for business owners) Driving for personal reasons (liability only) Do I need commercial auto insurance? If you register a vehicle in your company name, you need commercial auto insurance. Even if that car is a sedan, van or light pick-up truck.  If you register a vehicle in your personal name, but use it for business, you may still need a commercial auto insurance policy (your insurance agent can help you determine that). And even if you don’t own any vehicles, you may need a commercial auto policy! For example, if you rent or borrow any vehicles for use in your business, for instance, renting a car on a business trip, you’ll need a business auto policy. How much commercial auto coverage do I need? Every business is so unique, so every business needs a unique policy catered to their features and risks. Without details about your company, we can’t really give you an idea of how much commercial auto you need. But, we will tell you this: you might actually need more than you think. For most insurance companies, the maximum commercial auto insurance that you can purchase is $1,000,000. Unfortunately, with today’s litigious society in combination with the rising costs of vehicles and vehicle repairs, this might not be enough.  Many business owners often choose to buy commercial umbrella insurance to protect against large claims that exceed the policy limits. Do I need personal auto insurance too? Some business owners register all their vehicles in the name of their business, even their personal ones. If this is the case for you, your personal vehicles are not 100% covered under your commercial auto policy and you will need some sort of supplemental policy.  When a business owner or an employee is using a company vehicle for personal use, under a commercial auto policy, damages to the vehicle would be covered, but personal liability would not.  In this case, the employee using the car for personal use would either need a personal non-owner auto policy,  or the company could add a coverage called Driver Other Car to the commercial auto to give named individuals personal auto liability coverage. How much does commercial auto insurance cost? We wish we could give you a straight-forward answer to this, but we can’t.  It’s not that we have anything to hide, but commercial auto insurance is complex, and the cost can vary significantly based on several factors including the number of vehicles the company owns, the cost of the vehicles, where the vehicles are garaged, business operations, coverages inclusions, and limits and driver history.  We’ve seen policies range from $1,500 for a private passenger vehicle to $40,000 for a larger company with many work vehicles. Commercial auto insurance is typically more expensive than a personal auto policy due to the extra risks your business assumes by using your vehicles to transport goods or services. In addition, a commercial auto policy offers much higher coverage limits, and will protect not only your business, but your employees while driving for your business. What happens if I need to file a business auto claim? If you or one of your employees has gotten in a car accident or had damage to a vehicle, don’t panic. We can help you through it. Once you’ve made sure you and your vehicle are moved to safety, there are a number of details you’ll want to gather for if/when you decide to file a claim, including details of the accident, the people/vehicles involved, photos of damage/license plates/registrations/drivers licenses, police report, crash report, and auto insurance policy numbers of everyone involved.  Once you’ve collected that information, report it to your insurance agent who can navigate the claims process for you by reporting it to your insurance company and getting an adjuster assigned to review your claim information and make a determination.  For more information, read What Happens After a Car Accident (MA Auto Insurance Claims Process and Timelines) Keep your vehicles in business Things move fast in your company, and your business vehicles are an important part of keeping things moving.  If something happened to a vehicle or the employee driving it, how would it affect your business? Worse, what if that vehicle wasn’t properly covered by insurance and you were also stuck with a huge out-of-pocket cost? A thorough business auto policy will ensure your cars and employees are protected from damage and liability so your organization can keep operating smoothly. And if you need a commercial auto policy, you probably also need a full business insurance policy to cover all assets of your business. Check out this article to find out what information you need for a business insurance quote.

Blog Feature

Business Insurance | General Liability | Learning Center

By: Corin Cook
August 20th, 2020

As a business owner, you have a lot on your mind. Between keeping things running smoothly, bringing in enough revenue, complying with laws and regulations, making sure your employees are happy and so much more, you probably don’t have time to think too much about your insurance.  We get it! But, if something went wrong and you didn’t have the proper insurance or enough of it to pay a claim, wouldn’t you wish you spent a little more time thinking about your insurance? At Berry Insurance, our goal is to not just be a check box on your business’ to-do list. We want you (and all our clients) to be educated about your policies, so you understand why you need the coverages you do, and so you can recognize when a change in your business may need to translate to a change in your business insurance. If you’re a business owner, you might know you need a business owners policy (often called a BOP). A business owners policy is a bundled policy including both property insurance and general liability insurance. But do you know what that really means? Today, we’re going to dissect a business owners policy a little bit, specifically diving into general liability insurance. What is general liability insurance? In simple terms, 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. What does general liability cover? Liability insurance covers a wide range of injury, property damage and other types of scenarios that could happen at your business. Examples include: Injuries to someone else for an accident you cause Damages to someone else’s property Contractual liability (limited) Coverage for your products (limited) Advertising and personal injury coverage Pollution (optional) Emergency medical payments (optional) Electronic data/cyber liability (optional) Claims made against you by your employees (optional) What doesn’t general liability cover? While liability insurance covers a lot of scenarios, there are some exclusions. Examples include: Intentional bodily injury or property damage Employee work-related illness or injuries Mistakes from your professional services or advice Damages to or caused by company vehicles Damages to goods being loaded to, or unloaded from a vehicle Do I need general liability insurance? General liability insurance isn’t legally required, so while you don’t technically need it: TRUST US, you need it. Whether you are a sole proprietor operating under your personal name, an LLC, partnership, non-profit or corporation, business liability insurance is a policy every single business should have and most every business does. Liability insurance covers a wide range of entirely possible scenarios — scenarios which could leave you with a detrimental out-of-pocket cost if you weren’t covered by the insurance. Many vendors and clients will also need to confirm you have liability insurance before working with you, so going without really isn’t a smart business decision.  How much liability insurance do I need? Well, this is a great question, but we can’t fully answer it without knowing the details of your business. When buying liability insurance, you have to consider what factors of your business determine liability risks, such as industry, size, location, equipment, employees, and more. We can say however, we always recommend at least $1,000,000 of coverage to start. This might seem like a lot, but liability claims can actually exceed that amount, and you may even need much more. How much does general liability cost? Premiums for coverage are typically based on business type, industry, location, sales for the year, payroll, square feet of the premises or even average number of guests or attendees at the business, and the limits, deductibles and optional coverages you select. Due to these factors, the cost could range significantly from $200 for an independent consultant to $2,000 for a large contractor with higher risk operations. Of course, when bundled with a property policy in a BOP, the total cost is higher. What if someone is asking for my proof of liability insurance? As we mentioned, many business partners including clients, vendors, and suppliers may require you to have liability insurance in order to work with you.  To prove to them you have insurance, you can provide them with a certificate of insurance (COI). This is a one-page document that outlines what you have for insurance.  To get a COI, simply contact your business insurance agent and provide the name and address of the person requesting the COI (the hiring company) and the insurance requirements of the hiring company.  If the coverages match up, the agent will provide you with the COI to provide to the company you are doing work for. If your coverages are inadequate, you have the option of buying the additional insurance (whether it be higher limits, or other coverages), or declining it, but if you decline it, that probably means you are losing the job. Alternatively, some subcontractors choose to buy the extra insurance, then add the extra cost of that insurance to the price of the job they are completing, so the person requesting the insurance (the hiring company) ends up paying for it. Cover your business’ 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. If you own a company, you likely need a lot more than just 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 valuable resource What Information Do I Need for a Business Insurance Quote?

Blog Feature

Individuals & Families | Learning Center | Home Insurance | homeowners insurance | individuals and families | personal insurance | Personal Umbrella Insurance

By: Corin Cook
August 14th, 2020

Did you get a quarantine pool this summer? You aren’t the only one. During the stay-at-home orders following the COVID-19 outbreak, many families invested the money they would have used on vacation on new pools to create the ideal stay-cation environment.  We saw it firsthand. At Berry Insurance, many of our clients who installed new pools this year reached out to us, inquiring if it was covered on their homeowners insurance policy, or if they would need to buy more insurance. We tried not to rain on their figurative pool party too hard (even though we were a tad jealous of their new additions), but we did inform them it was possible that they would need to increase their insurance to account for the new investment and associated new risks.  If you’re in the same boat (or pool raft) as these clients, read on to learn more about the areas you may need to adjust your personal insurance to avoid a costly claim. Is my swimming pool covered under my homeowners insurance? Yes, if you have a swimming pool on your property it is covered on your homeowners policy. Specifically, it is covered under the “other structures” section of your homeowners policy, which covers structures including detached structures such as sheds, fences, driveways, detached garages, and of course … swimming pools. This means, damage to your swimming pool from covered incidents such as storms or fires will be covered up to your other structures limits. However, even though your pool is covered under your other structures coverage, you may need to make some adjustments to your homeowners insurance.  Places you may need to adjust homeowners insurance for your swimming pool: Your pool is a large investment that is supposed to add fun and relaxation to your life. But before you dive in (pun intended), you need to make sure you are securing your investment with the proper insurance so you aren’t facing a stressful claim and significant financial hardship. Below are some of the steps you may need to take. Notify your insurance company Although there may be many areas you need to adjust your insurance, when you get a pool, the bare minimum you need to do is notify your insurance company so they are aware of the added exposure. If your pool is a complex, valuable addition, your agent may suggest you increase your coverages. If it is an inexpensive, temporary above ground pool, just notifying your agent may be sufficient. Increase other structures coverage As a rule of thumb, other structures coverage is usually set at 10-20% of the value of your dwelling coverage limit. If the other structures limit does not cover the total value of your pool, you may need to buy additional insurance. For example, if your dwelling coverage is $300,000, your other structures coverage limit may be $30,000. If your pool would cost $50,000 to replace, your coverage would not fully cover it. In this case, you may want to pay for extra other structures coverage specifically assigned to the pool to ensure it would be completely covered in a disaster. Increase liability insurance When you have a pool, in addition to damage of the pool itself, the other insurance-related issue you have to worry about is injuries to people. Pools can be dangerous. With wet surfaces, drowning risks, and running/jumping in and around the pool, there is certainly an increased risk of injuries.  To better cover this risk, you should consider increasing your personal liability coverage on your homeowners policy (preferably to the maximum of $1 million if it isn’t already.) Personal liability coverage (included in your homeowners policy) covers damages if someone else is injured on your property. If someone were to get hurt in or around your pool, paying for medical bills and legal fees could reach or even exceed $1 million, so the additional coverage is essential. Get umbrella insurance Even if you max out your insurance on a pool-related claim, it still might not be enough! Since a pool is an additional exposure, we always recommend personal umbrella liability insurance. What is umbrella insurance? 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. Umbrella kicks in when other forms of insurance, (auto, home, renters, condo) have been exhausted. With rising medical costs and legal fees, umbrella insurance is often a financial life-saver when it comes to unexpected, high-cost claims. How much does umbrella insurance cost: Many people decline umbrella coverage to save a couple bucks because they think they don’t need it, and we get it! The situations umbrella insurance would cover are rare, and chances are, you will never need to use your umbrella insurance (and we really hope you don’t). BUT, if something unexpected did happen, wouldn’t you rather have an insurance policy pay instead of your wallet (or worse, future earnings)? We always say, if you have a pool, the extra protection is always worth the cost. Costs of personal liability umbrella policies range based on various factors such as (number of properties, number of autos, driver history, number, age and experience of drivers, number of watercraft/snowmobiles, etc.), but a $1 million 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). Swim with peace of mind Your pool is supposed to enhance your life. It should be a place to unwind, exercise, cool off, and spend time with your loved ones. The last thing you need is a pool-related incident to cause stress, hardship, or set you back financially. By reviewing your homeowners insurance policy and making appropriate adjustments, you can rest assured your pool will solely serve its purpose of fun and relaxation.  While you’re at it, it may be a good time to review all of your personal insurance policies. A lot can change in a short amount of time, so you want to make sure your policies keep up with life’s changes and aren’t hiding any gaps in coverage.

Blog Feature

Personal Auto | Individuals & Families | auto insurance | Condo Insurance | Learning Center | going to college | Home Insurance | Renters Insurance | back to school | personal insurance

By: Kaitlyn Pintarich
August 4th, 2020

Selecting classes, buying books, and choosing a meal plan are just some of the steps students take to get ready for college. Parents, on the other hand, are worrying about how to pay for school, the safety of their child while away, and maybe even beginning to experience a little bit of empty nest syndrome. With all that hustle and bustle, making sure your child has adequate insurance coverage when going away to college can be easily forgotten. Don’t worry, we’ve got you. At Berry Insurance, we guide many clients through this new transition every year. In this article, we’ll review all the various scenarios that could apply to you and your college-bound kid, and let you know how to best navigate changes to your insurance. Your Kids’ Belongings If your child will be going away to college, and living on campus, they’ll probably be packing a lot of stuff to take with them. I remember filling up two car loads when I headed off to school! Fortunately, most Massachusetts homeowners policies will cover any lost or damaged items belonging to students while away from the primary residence.  While many insurance companies will cover your student for the full limit on your policy, some may limit this extension of coverage to a maximum of 10% of your personal property limit. Let’s say that you have $25,000 of personal property coverage – that means that only $2,500 would be available to your child while away at college. There is also an additional wrinkle in this coverage. In most cases for coverage to be extended, the student must live on campus, maintain a full-time schedule, have previously lived at the insured home before leaving for school, be under the age of 24, and must be a relative of the named insured on the homeowner insurance policy. A change in that status could put their coverage at risk. For example – dropping a class halfway through the semester could change their enrollment status to part-time,leaving them with no coverage. You’ll want to check with your insurance agent to find out how your insurance company will handle this. If coverage is limited to the 10%, you may be left underinsured for your child’s belongings. Now, if your child will be living off campus, you will definitely want to obtain a renters insurance policy to cover their belongings and to give them liability coverage. If your child will be renting, and having a roommate, you should make sure that everyone has their own coverage, as a renters policy will likely not extend to roommates.  The average college student’s renters insurance policy costs less than $200 annually and includes coverage for personal belongings and personal liability coverage. Interestingly enough, if your child will be studying abroad, the same rules apply as if they were living on campus. So be sure to check with your insurance agent to find out how much coverage they have before they fly out. Your Kids’ Statements It’s true what they say – “kids say the darndest things” – and sometimes, that applies to our college-aged children as well.  Inside and outside of their studies, kids are engaged in a variety of social media apps, chat rooms, video platforms, classroom learning applications, and a host of others. Many of these platforms include chat features, and while we never want to think our child would say something bad on the internet – it happens.  Personal injury coverage on your homeowners policy (or on their renters policy) will provide protection against claims for defamation, libel or slander made by you or your children. Unfortunately we live in a technological world where even the best intended comments can be misconstrued very easily. Adding this coverage to your policy is very inexpensive and a must-have in today’s world. Your Kids’ Driving If your child will be taking a car to college, you’ll want to notify your insurance agent. In most cases, if the car is registered to you and listed on your auto insurance policy, it will be covered in an accident. But – you must notify your insurance company of the change in garaging location. If you do not do this, you could potentially have a claim denied. Now, what happens if your kid won’t have a car on campus? If they decide to drive a friend’s car, they would be covered as long as they are still listed as a driver on your auto policy, even if they’re not technically “regularly” driving your vehicle. The insurance for the friend’s vehicle would be the primary coverage, and your policy would be secondary. But what happens if you removed them from your auto insurance coverage since they were away at school? Again, the insurance on the vehicle would be primary, but if your child was found at fault, you may be without liability protection.  When your kid goes away to college, it creates added complexity to your auto insurance needs. We recommend talking to your insurance agent about all the possibilities to make an informed decision when coverage is concerned. Your Kids’ Grades Good grades = good news! Once your child has a semester under their belt, their good grades can help you obtain a discount. Good student discounts are available from most Massachusetts insurance companies and could save you 10% on your auto insurance policy. Getting Covered Before Your Kid Goes Away to College Before you pack up the car and send your kid on their way, give your insurance agent a call to discuss your coverage options. This is a very exciting time for both you and your child – congrats from all of us at Berry Insurance! After your child goes away to college, and you’ve settled into your new routine without them home, you may want to consider reviewing your own personal insurance policies to make sure they reflect your current situation and you’re not missing any coverages or paying more than you need to.

Blog Feature

Individuals & Families | Condo Insurance | Learning Center | Home Insurance | remote learning | Workers Compensation | Renters Insurance | personal insurance

By: Kaitlyn Pintarich
July 30th, 2020

With the new school year quickly approaching, many parents and families are finding themselves at a loss for how to handle the potential of online or remote learning this fall. I think we’d all agree that right now, we just feel utterly unprepared. And it’s no surprise. When schools shut down in the middle of March this year due to Coronavirus, we all hoped and prayed that this nightmare would be over by the new school year. But as we’re quickly approaching August, it is clear that we still have a ways to go. Many of us at Berry Insurance are parents, and are grappling with decisions for remote learning this fall. There are so many things to contemplate! Several of our clients have been reaching out for guidance, and I myself have been wondering what is best for my four young children. How will our children adjust? Will there be any social or behavioral effects? How will we manage our new roles as teachers, and potentially, as working parents?  But there is also one more question we have to grapple with – will remote learning impact my insurance coverage? And the answer is, yes, it potentially could. Let’s dive in. Remote Learning and Homeowners Insurance If your child will be remote learning in the fall, whether it’s elementary school, middle school, high school, or college, there may very well be a few adjustments that need to be made to your Massachusetts homeowners insurance policy. Computer Equipment If you’re like me, you may have had to purchase a few extra laptops this spring to enable your children to work online. If not, perhaps your school district supplied you with a school laptop. Or, your child might be provided a laptop as part of their college tuition costs. Regardless, it’s likely that the number of electronics has increased in your home. If that is the case, you may need to adjust your computer coverage. Many insurance companies provide a sub-limit of around $2,500 for computer coverage. If this limit would not be sufficient to replace your existing devices, you may want to increase this coverage. Cyber Protection In my last count, our family of six has a total of 20 computers, wifi printers, laptops, smartphones, ipads and smart TVs in our home. And I could be missing one or two. These devices are part of our everyday life and in some ways, especially when concerning remote learning, they are essential. But they also create new avenues for cyber hackers to access our network and steal information. Many insurance companies today have created home cyber protection coverages that can provide increased liability coverage to defend against these types of claims. A limit of $50,000 could cost you as little as $50 a year, and may be worth consideration if you have an increase in devices on your network. Personal Injury Coverage Remote learning has children involved with Google Classroom, Zoom and a host of other online learning platforms. Many of these platforms include chat features, and while we never want to think our children would say something bad on the internet – it happens. Trust me… Personal injury coverage on your homeowners policy will provide protection against claims for defamation, libel or slander made by you or your children. Unfortunately we live in a technological world where even the best intended comments can be misconstrued very easily. Adding this coverage to your policy is very inexpensive. Pollutants You might be wondering what remote learning has to do with pollutants, and believe us, at first, we thought the same thing. But if you have a high school or college aged child, pollutants could become an issue for you.  We’ve been hearing from some schools and colleges that lab kits will be sent to the students to complete at home as part of their remote learning requirements. If this will be the case for your child, there are some important limitations to your policy you should be aware of. Your homeowners policy contains a pollutants exclusion, which is most commonly applied to the discharge, seepage, release or escape of pollutants. The definition of what is considered a pollutant is: “any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste.” Now, let’s review a few examples.  If a chemical reaction caused a fire, it could potentially be a covered loss. But on the other hand, if a pollutant leak causes damage to your property – say your son spills some chemicals that damage your new kitchen countertops – that would likely be excluded. It’s important to note that this could be a gray area for many insurance companies – as this type of claim has likely never occurred before. So it’s best to review your coverages and exclusions with your insurance agent, so they can work with the insurance company on the best coverage for your individual situation. Business Pursuits Another area of concern, specifically for college-aged students, would be if they are engaging in any remote work arrangements while home for the semester. If your college student has arranged remote work study, paid work, internship, or otherwise, there could be limitations in coverage should a claim occur. A standard Massachusetts homeowners policy will not provide coverage for anything “arising out of or in connection with a ‘business’ engaged in by an ‘insured’.” Unfortunately, this is another gray area. Whether a work study would count as a “business” would depend on the circumstances of the claim. Again, we recommend letting your insurance agent know if your child will have any remote work while at home. Remote Learning and Child Care It’s no question that a return to remote learning this fall will create some logistical problems for working parents. We’ve heard from several clients that they are considering hiring part-time or full-time caregivers for children, either to cover the before-school and after-school care, or to be home all day long. Some are hiring to simply handle drop-off and pick-up duties. And some families are considering hiring a teacher to hold in-home co-op learning for small groups of children. If any of these situations have crossed your mind, you will want to note that your homeowners insurance policy will not cover anyone caring for your child, or offering their teaching services. These individuals, even if only getting paid for an hour a day, would be considered your employee, and thus you would need to obtain a workers compensation policy to cover them. A Massachusetts Workers compensation policy with a $1,000,000 limit costs $293 a year. Hiring someone to help with child care is stressful enough as it is, so be sure you know what nanny insurance is, and what you need to apply for nanny insurance coverage. Get Covered for Remote Learning We know many of you are still waiting to hear from your child’s school on the decision of whether to return to in-school or online learning. And some of you, regardless of what the school decides, have made the choice to keep your child home and engage in remote learning. At Berry Insurance, many of us are facing these very same decisions. We’re sending you virtual hugs! If remote learning is one of your options, be sure to give your insurance agent a call today to discuss what changes you may need to make to your insurance policies. While you’re at it, ask your insurance agent for a complete review of all your insurance coverages so that you can be sure you’re back-to-school ready this fall!