Personal Insurance FAQs

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Why should I use an independent agency to purchase insurance?

An independent agency can provide the policyholder with more personal service when compared to a direct writer. An independent agency, such as Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group, works with several insurance carriers to provide insurance of excellent quality with competitive pricing and local service. Direct contact with a local person can be invaluable when purchasing an insurance product and especially when filing a claim. An agent can help you absorb the frustration and expense of resolving your claims.

Who decides how much my property is worth?

The common methods of valuing property at the time of a loss are:

Actual Cash Value:  The replacement cost of the item minus depreciation. For example, a new television set may cost $500. If your four–year–old TV set gets damaged in a fire, it might have depreciated 50 percent. Therefore, you would be paid $250 for that set.

Replacement Coverage: The cost of replacing an item without deducting for depreciation. The current cost of a TV set comparable to the four-year–old one damaged by fire would determine the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. If it costs $700 today, that would be the amount paid, once replaced.

Replacement value should not be confused with market value. The market value is the price an item, such as your house, for which it would actually sell at the current moment and is generally more than the replacement cost. This is because replacement value does not include the land or reflect the value of the location.

If you prefer replacement coverage and do not already have it, this coverage can be added to your policy. Typically, the difference in premiums is 10 to 15 percent when you upgrade from actual cash value coverage to replacement coverage. However, it can be worth the extra cost to protect your investment in your possessions. Your Hickok & Boardman Insurance group agent can provide you with details.

What about floods, earthquakes, and other catastrophes? Are they covered by my homeowners' insurance?

Most catastrophes are covered. For example, wind damage from hurricanes and tornadoes is covered by the windstorm peril coverage option.

Flood and earthquake damage, however, are not covered by a standard policy. Flood and earthquake activity is more widespread than many people realize. For example, almost 90 percent of the U.S. population lives in seismically active areas. Since 1900, earthquakes have caused damage in all 50 states. And, if your home is located in a flood–prone area, you are 26 times more likely to suffer a flood loss than a loss from fire.

You may want to ask your Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group agent about special catastrophic policies for normally excluded conditions like floods and earthquakes. Of course, the cost of such extra coverage may reflect any high-risk factors. For example, living on a shoreline will cause higher premiums for flood insurance than someone living on a mountaintop.

Are there any exclusions I should know about?

The exclusions are specifically listed in the policy. They are, but not limited to: intentional loss, neglect, general power failure, flooding, earthquake, and damage by war.

Another exclusion that can be costly is the ordinance or law exclusion. Building codes established by governmental bodies that increase the cost of rebuilding or repairing after a loss may not be covered by your insurance policy. Thus, if you discover when replacing damaged property that the current law demands a higher grade of materials than the original material, the cost of the new materials may not be covered for the full price. For example, if the building code in your area requires a higher grade of electrical wiring than the currently installed wiring, after a fire your policy may cover only the cost of replacing the older wiring. You would then be responsible for the difference in cost between the old wiring and the required new wiring.

Coverage to included Ordinance or Law requirements can possibly be added to your homeowners' policy with an endorsement—an addition that could save you money in the long run.

Does my Homeowners' policy cover my in-home business?

Homeowners' policies are not intended to cover business exposures. Consequently, coverage for the items you use in your business such as computers, fax machines, filing cabinets, tools, and inventory are usually limited to $2,500 in your home and $250 away from home under most policies. Your Homeowners' policy provides no liability insurance for your home–based business.

I'll soon be renting my own apartment. Can I still purchase insurance for my home?

Yes. Renters' Insurance is a property and casualty policy to protect your property and you against liability. For example, if someone slips and falls in your apartment, you may be held liable for the injury. Renters insurance would cover the expenses related to the accident. Your possessions, up to the monetary limits listed in your policy, would also be covered for specified damages (both at home and when you travel).

If somebody sues for damages caused by you or your possessions (other than a vehicle covered by your auto insurance policy), your renters insurance policy would cover the cost of the lawsuit—both defending it and settling it if necessary—up to the limit of coverage chosen.

What about our vacation home in another state? Or our seasonal camp in the same state?

Insurance companies typically operate in more than one state so that a company carrying your primary residence may be able to issue a policy for your vacation home.

What if I am sued or found liable for injury to another person?

Liability covers bodily injury and property damage to others due to your negligence. The coverage applies to non–auto accidents that occur either at your residence or off the premises. Medical expense payments such as first aid can also be due to the injured party. If there is any incident with the possibility of suit, it is advisable to contact your agent immediately and inform them of the situation.

Will my Homeowners' policy cover me for losses that occur outside of my home?

Homeowners' policies may provide protection for your possessions while they are outside your home. For example, if your luggage were stolen while you're on vacation, a homeowners' policy would cover the loss caused by the theft. Your policy may also protect your kids' stereo equipment and other possessions when they go to college and live in a dorm. Once a child moves to an off-campus apartment, he or she will typically need to purchase a separate renters' insurance policy to cover their personal property.

What does Auto Insurance cover?

Auto Insurance is divided into several different types of coverage:

Liability:  Covers damage to other people's property and injuries you may cause while operating an automobile.

Collision:  Covers damage to your own vehicle in an accident.

Comprehensive:  Covers fire damage to your vehicle, break-ins, vandalism, or theft, as well as natural disasters (earthquake, hail, hurricane, flood) unless the vehicle is overturned - then it is considered a collision.

Medical Payments Insurance:  Medical Payments Insurance: Guarantees emergency and related medical payments, usually in the range of $1,000 to $10,000, for you, your passengers, and other parties, regardless of who is at fault. It also covers you and members of your household in any accident involving an automobile, whether you are on foot or in a friend's car, or hit by a car when riding your bicycle.

Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Under-Insured Motorist (UIM) Coverage:  Protects you and your passengers if injured in an accident with drivers carrying insufficient liability coverage.

Extra Coverage:  Includes expenses for towing, labor, and temporary replacement vehicles. These are generally defined as add-ons or endorsements to your policy.

What steps can I take to reduce my rates?

Insurers generally offer discounts for good drivers and for:

Safety Features:  Anti–lock brakes, air bags, and automatic seat belts.

Security Systems:  Car alarms, electronic locks, and disabling devices.

Changing Driving Habits:  Commuting by public transit, using a company vehicle for work-related travel, and car-pooling.

Buying homeowners' and auto policies from the same company:  If you own a home and automobile and they are insured by two different companies, insuring both with one insurer can result in reduced cost.

You can also lower your insurance rates by requesting higher deductibles (the amount of money you pay before you make a claim). If you increase your deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverage from $100 to $250, or even to $500, you can bring your rates down. Moreover, you may not need collision and comprehensive coverage if you drive an older car. Ask your Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group agent about what discounts are available to you.

If I rent a car while on vacation, do I need to select the rental car insurance?

You normally would have the same coverage you have on your personal auto policy. However, the car rental company's contract states that regardless of fault, you may be responsible for the replacement of that vehicle and its loss of income. If your Auto policy settles a loss on an actual cash value (less depreciation), and the rental car company requires the replacement value of the car, this difference in cost is not covered by your own Auto policy. Your own Auto policy does not reimburse you for the loss of income you may incur should the rental car be damaged in an accident and cannot be driven. Your personal Auto policy's rental car coverage is only valid in the continental US and Canada. No coverage is provided in Mexico or other locations outside of the United States.

What do I give up by not using an independent agent to purchase insurance?

The disadvantage of not using an agent to purchase insurance (and buying insurance from a "direct writer") is that the policyholder does not receive as much, or often any, personal service. A licensed agent with whom there is direct contact can be vital when purchasing a product and absolutely necessary when filing a claim. Without an agent to act as your personal advocate during the claims process, you are left to take care of the details on your own and you may not be sure who to contact at the insurance company, or who you can really trust to help you during the times in life when you need help the most. Without an agent, you are on your own to absorb the frustration and expense of resolving your problems.

Additionally, as an independent agency, Hickok & Boardman works with several insurance companies, allowing us to provide you the best value and most comprehensive insurance coverage to best fit your needs. This is in addition to local service!

What is an SR-22 form?

An SR-22 form shows that you have auto insurance. It is required by the state for drivers who are considered as high risk. Here are some of the reasons a state might require you to file an SR-22 form:

- Having been convicted of a DUI (driving under the influence) charge
- Serious moving violations such as reckless driving
- Acquiring a lot of highway points in a short period of time
- Frequent traffic violations
- Causing an accident while uninsured

Regulations vary from state to state, but high-risk drivers usually have to maintain SR-22 insurance for three years.

Should I expect my premium to rise if I reported an accident to my insurance company in which I was not found at fault?

It is unlikely you would see a premium increase solely because you were in an accident in which another person was at fault.

However, you may receive a premium increase if that accident was one of several you have had throughout the year or in recent years. Even if you had several accidents and were found not at fault in each of them, the insurance company may assume you are at higher than normal risk for an accident and may charge you a higher premium.

Do red vehicles cost more to insure than other vehicles?

No. Your insurance company does not consider the color of your vehicle when calculating your insurance premium. Factors that insurers consider include your age, the kind of vehicle you drive, your claims history, your credit history, and your driving record.

Suppose I lend my car to a friend. Is that covered under my Auto Insurance policy?

Whenever you knowingly loan your car to a friend or an associate who does not live in your household, he or she will be covered under your policy. Even without explicit permission, someone driving your car is still covered under your policy as long he or she has a reasonable belief that you would have given them permission to borrow the car.

Who do I call to report a claim?

To report a claim now – Call 800-900-0121
(Option #1 is always Claims)

When should I file an auto or homeowners' claim?

The Hickok and Boardman Insurance Group Claims Department is here to assist you with filing all claims, regardless of the type of claim or who is at fault for an accident. We are happy to assist you throughout the entire claims process.

Can I get a copy of the "Vermont State Auto Accident" form online?

Yes, from this link.

What do I do if my car is hit in a parking lot, but the other car did not stop or leave a phone number?

File a police report immediately after you discover the damage from the hit and run, and then call our Claims Department.

Do I have coverage if my car is hit with a shopping cart?

If you have purchased collision insurance for your policy, the damage would be covered.

Do I pay my deductible once per year on my Auto, Business, or Homeowners' Insurance?

No, your deductible applies per claim, not per policy period.

If my car breaks down for mechanical failure, does my insurance pay for a rental car?

No, rental coverage does not apply for mechanical failure; it only covers you when your car has been damaged by an accident.

Can I get Vermont's "Employee First Report of Injury" form online for a workers compensation injury?

Yes, you may download a copy here.