The Claim Game: Filing an Auto Claim


Filing an auto insurance claim is never fun. But with these simple steps from the Insurance Information Institute, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble. “The I’s on Insurance: The Claim Game, Auto” will put you on the road to a satisfactory claim filing experience, giving you the basics on what you should know, what your policy covers and the most important information to record when you’re in an accident.

Is Your Home’s Vinyl Siding Melting?

This is a guest post from Renaissance Alliance member agency Wolpert Insurance
So…your vinyl siding is melting, but the neighbor’s house isn’t on fire. What’s the deal? MAIA’s Tech Talk, author Irene Morrill, Vice President of Technical Affairs, discussed an “interesting property claim” involving vinyl siding in November 2010. Unfortunately, such claims have been reported right here in Worcester, as well as other neighboring towns and elsewhere in the country.
So, as you’re looking at the side of your house, scratching your head and wondering what happened, here are a few things to consider:
Your neighbor’s new energy-efficient windows; great for keeping their energy costs down, not so great at keeping your vinyl siding up. Although these windows do meet building code requirements,

“these windows can also warp inward and act like a magnifying glass, concentrating too much heat on nearby homes or business buildings”.

The heat which is caused by these windows can reach temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the siding to melt. ‘Low E’ glass reflects 70% of the sun’s heat, which can easily melt vinyl siding when the distance between houses/buildings is 15 to 20 feet.
Another cause of melting vinyl siding can be neighboring roofs when the heat of dark roofs re-radiate, deforming adjacent siding.

The sun’s energy strikes the roof and the heat is re-radiated and absorbed by the siding, causing it to warp. This might happen when you have a sloping, dark-colored roof that intersects a vertical wall close to a window. In effect, the building could melt itself or a close neighboring premises.

Other variables that can contribute to distorting siding:

  • outdoor temps and wind speed
  • proximity of other heat sources, i.e. ac compressors
  • color and solar absorption of the siding (darker colors absorb more heat)
  • angle of the sun and orientation of the glass relative to the siding

Unfortunately, if your home/business insurance coverage is a “named peril policy”, such instances would not be covered.
If you have vinyl siding and are curious about other insurance options available to you, please contact Wolpert or your local Renaissance insurance agency.
Photo courtesy of Irene Morrill and Tech Talk, 2010
Double-pane windows can melt more than vinyl siding

Putting in a homeowners claim? … Talk your agent first!

Bob Hollis of Hollis Insurance Agency offers this advice to homeowners that have a claim:
By now, most people are aware of how insurance companies are quick on the draw to cancel a homeowners insurance policy after the policyholder files a claim (or a few claims). The better underwriters will be more apt to cancel a policy if they feel the claim could have been prevented with better maintenance or effort to prevent a claim versus a true “act of God.” Others use no distinction at all. So in all cases, I use the analogy that when it comes to filing claims, you only have a few bullets in your gun. Use those bullets in the situations when you really need them. This is made even more important by the fact that once you have been cancelled for incurred claims, no other companies will insure you as well and you will end up in the MA Fair plan, usually with less coverage and at a higher premium.
So if you have a $1,000 deductible and the claim might come to $1,300, think carefully before you file it. Save your bullets for the big one! The best advice? Call your agent to file the claim before contacting the insurance company and we will break it down for you and come up with a course of action that will help you the most.

Insurance and Your Dog

If you are thinking of getting a dog, or even if you already have one, it’s critical as either a homeowner or renter to check with your insurance agent to establish or review your liability coverage for dog bites and other canine-related injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every year more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, and last year, the average cost of a dog bite claim was $26,166, according to the Insurance Information Institute — and costs continue to rise due to growing medical costs and larger settlements.

Most states have strict statutes holding owners directly responsible for injuries or damage inflicted by their dogs (you can check your state’s liability statutes here), and some insurance policies exclude dog breeds that are seen as particularly aggressive (see the Top 7 Dangerous Dog Breeds), so in addition to evaluating your ability to care for and properly train a dog, it’s vital to make sure you are covered by your policy, and take steps to minimize any risk of dog bite or other injury.

Tips for dog owners seeking homeowner/renter’s coverage for their dog(s):

  • Enroll your dog in obedience classes and work on helping the dog earn a diploma or certification
  • Schedule refresher classes for dogs who have already been trained, but are not as attentive as they once were!
  • Neuter male dogs to reduce dominance and aggression
  • Always keep your dogs on a leash and under control during walks
  • If your dog is allowed outside on your property, be sure the area is adequately fenced and protected
  • Never leave young children alone with a dog, and always teach them how to behave safely around dogs
  • If strangers make your dog nervous, be sure to separate them from new visitors in your home
  • To keep canine frustration in check, always make sure your dog is properly exercised, and don’t allow them to be exposed to teasing or taunting

Finally, if you are thinking of getting a dog primarily for home protection, be aware that money spent on increased security measures will ultimately be easier, more reliable, less expensive — and kinder to the animal.

Flood recovery resources and insurance issues in the aftermath of New England flooding

New England is still recovering from the record Northeast flooding. If you missed it, you can view the scope of the damage in this gallery of dramatic Northeast flood photos. Now, it’s time to move forward. We’ve gathered various recovery resources for those who suffered damage in these floods.
Are you eligible for disaster assistance? At you can apply for assistance online, or take an anonymous pre-screening questionnaire to see if you are eligible for assistance. Various other resources are available. including advance preparation for emergencies, and resources for disaster recovery.
Rhode Island
Rhode Island Severe Storms and Flooding – This page provides updated information and resources for Rhode Island residents and businesses in all 5 counties who were affected by the recent flooding. The first step in recovery entails filing for disaster recovery assistance with FEMA. As of this writing, FEMA has opened Disaster Recovery Centers in Cranston and Warwick. The site offers information from FEMA on where and how to apply for assistance, as well as links to other recovery resources. Check back for updated information.
Massachusetts Severe Storms and Flooding – This page provides updated information and resources for Massachusetts residents and businesses that were declared as major disaster areas March 29: Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties. The first step in recovery entails filing for disaster recovery assistance with FEMA. As of this writing, FEMA has opened 5 Disaster Recovery Centers and has FEMA inspectors assessing storm damage in seven Massachusetts counties. The site offers information from FEMA on where and how to apply for assistance, as well as links to other recovery resources. Check back for updated information.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, so unless you have a specific flood policy, you may be out of luck. Check to see if you have a sump pump failure rider to supplement your homeowners, which may offer some relief.
Even if your homeowners policy doesn’t cover flooding, if you have experienced anything more than minor damage, you may want to file a claim:

  • When your insurer investigates the actual cause of the loss, you may have some coverage.
  • If you are eligible for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance, you will likely need a letter of denial from your insurer. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate any assistance that insurance already covers.
  • Your insurer and agent may be able to suggest resources and service firms for emergency restoration professionals in your area. They may have other resources and advice available to help you mitigate and recover from your loss.
  • If you have comprehensive insurance as part of your standard auto insurance policy, you may be covered for water or flood damage to your car. You would need to contact your agent to check the specific coverage provisions in your policy.

Recovery resources