Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Markham Priest Insurance Is Going Green!

Markham Priest Insurance is going green!  As an agency, we are focusing our efforts to reduce our overall paper consumption and to create a paperless office.  All our future insurance policies will be scanned and emailed to our clients. 

All our electronic policies are stored in a secure, offsite location.  Your past and present policies are always available when you need a copy.

We are excited about this effort because less paper equates to efficiency, compliance, reduces overall cost and improves business continuity.

If you have any questions about our going green initiative, please do not hesitate to call or email our office.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Is Insurance Scoring Allowed In Massachusetts?

Ten years ago, Markham Priest Insurance had one (1) or two (2) insurance carriers that required us to run insurance scores before processing an application for homeowners insurance. Today, all our carriers require us to determine the applicant’s insurance score in order to meet underwriting guidelines.

An insurance score is a numerical ranking based on a person’s credit history. Actuarial studies show that how a person manages his or her financial affairs is a good indicator of future insurance claims. The insurance industry has data that shows that a person’s financial responsibility, financial stability and financial stress are factors that affect insurance claims. These financial factors can translate to stability in other areas of your life, driving safety and deferral of home/auto maintenance. Insurance scores are used by insurance carriers to objectively and accurately anticipate claims and thus charge a premium that is appropriate for the risk they are insuring.

The State of Massachusetts allows insurance scoring for homeowners insurance. If an applicant has a very high insurance score, some insurance carriers will provide additional discounts on the homeowner's policy. For some carriers, insurance scoring is used only to determine if the risk (applicant) is eligible to obtain insurance based on underwriting guidelines. If an applicant has a very low insurance score, he or she will not meet the underwriting guidelines of the homeowner’s carriers and will have to obtain insurance through the Massachusetts Fair Plan.

The State of Massachusetts does not allow insurance scoring for auto insurance. I am unsure if this will change in the future.   The new "managed competition" system for auto insurance has brought new companies that are notorious for relying on a person's credit-score, education and occupation to determine the auto insurance premium. As of today, auto insurance premiums are based solely a person's driving record and years of experience.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Concerned About Your Teen Driver? Check out Speedbump™

Back in February 2011, I wrote a blog about various auto/driving apps available to download on your smart phone.  I want to inform you of a new smartphone app called Speedbump™ that keeps your kids safe on the road.  Speedbump™ will monitor the driver behavior of any vehicle your teenage son or daughter is in and report any incidents of unsafe driving.

The Speedbump™ app allows you to set and monitor the speed limits on local, secondary and primary roads.  An alert is instantly sent to you if your teen is in a speeding car.

Currently, the Speedbump™ app is available for Android phones only.  Additional information including a video on how the app works can be found at
The product is currently offered for free on the Android Market.  The app was created locally in Lunenburg Massachusetts.  Please download the app and give it a try!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Insurance Discounts - Are You Taking Advantage?

Over the past two years, many auto and home insurance companies have introduced new discounts to help consumers save premium. During our client account reviews, Markham Priest asks specific questions to properly provide the correct amount of insurance and to find the maximum amount of discounts available. Are you taking advantage of these discounts with your existing insurance agency? If not, this is an ideal time to review your insurance needs.  Give me a call or send me an email if you have any questions on the new discounts offered below.
1. Multi-policy Discount
2. Years at Residence Discount
3. Motor Club Membership Discount such as AAA or On-Star
4. Electronic Payment (EFT) Discount
5. Green (electronic policy) Discount
6. Good Student Discount
7. Student Away at School Discount
8. Hybrid Vehicle Discount
9. Loyalty Discount
10. Advanced Driver Training Discount

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Avoid Distracted Driving With These Mobile Apps!

I have never sent a text message while driving.  Overall, I do not like talking on my cell phone while driving either.  This past year, I have made an effort to park the car while talking on my cell phone and putting my cell phone in silence mode to avoid any additional distractions while driving.

Did you know that text messaging while driving is banned in 30 states and the use of cell phones is banned or restricted in 14 states.  This information can be found at the website of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety at

For people that use their cell phone constantly while driving, see the list of apps below.  These mobile apps will help you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel. 

iZUP - "Eyes Up" holds incoming and outgoing calls, texts and emails while driving.  The iZUP app allows an adminstrator to monitor compliance, edit settings and receive alerts.  Existing customers from Plymouth Rock Assurance can save 25% on the annual subscription.  For more information visit

Not While Driving - Not While Driving detects when your car is in motion using the GPS device in your cell phone and puts your cell phone in sleep mode.  As soon as your car stops, your cell returns to a normal operating mode without any additional steps.  Not While Driving sends an automated email to a parent or employer whenever the cell phone user overrides Not While Driving – ensuring hands on the wheel and full attention to driving conditions. Not While Driving is a Blackberry application only.  The app can be found in Blackberry AppWorld or by clicking on the link at - allows you to listen to SMS, email or text messages while driving.  For example, when you receive an email, will read the email aloud.  This app can be found in the Android Market and Blackberry AppWorld.  According the developers website, the app will be available for the iPhone and Windows Mobile phones soon.

Text'nDrive - Text'nDrive allows you to listen to your email or text messages while driving and allows you to reply by voice.  Text'nDrive is available in the iPhone App Store, Android Market and Blackberry App World.  The App can also be found at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is Your Hired Contractor Properly Insured?

It is important that the next contractor you hire is properly insured. We recommend this to our clients all the time. Proper insurance includes both general liability, completed operations liability and workers compensation insurance. If a project fails or any damage is done to your property, the insured contractor is the only one who will potentially provide financial coverage. If a contractor is injured on your property, a workers compensation insurance policy will provide coverage for the medical claims and possible lost wages. 

At times, asking the question creates a difficult or uncomfortable situation. The hired contractor could be a friend, family member or someone you used multiple times in the past.

The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents provides a search engine to allow individuals to verify workers compensation coverage for businesses operating within the State of Massachusetts.  This link can be found on our website at by clicking on the Proof of Coverage by Employer link.

Please remember that the search engine only provides a history of workers compensation coverage shown by policy renewal dates. The search engine is not going to indicate if a contractor has coverage the day they start on your project. For example: if a contractors workers compensation insurance is cancelled for non-payment of premium, the search engine is not going to be updated with the latest information.

It is always best to ask for a Certificate of Insurance. A certificate of insurance is a document issued by an insurance company or agency that is used to verify the existence of insurance coverage issued to an individual or company. More specifically, the certificate of insurance lists the date the certificate was created, the effective date of the policy, the type of insurance coverage purchased, and the limits of liability applicable to each policy.

You should ensure the validity of a contractor's insurance by having the certificate sent to you directly from the insurance office. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call or email our office.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Homeowners Insurance & Ice Dams Claims

This past week, Markham Priest received many phone calls concerning ice dam claims. Below are some recommendations/facts should you have ice dam problems in your home.

1. Once you see water dripping or collecting inside the house or ice damaging the exterior of the house, please call your insurance agency to report the claim. Early notice is needed in order to help the insurance company to manage the loss.

2. It is highly recommended to hire a contractor to remove any snow or ice on the roof to prevent any future potential problems. Please make sure the contractor is insured by asking for a Certificate of Insurance. You will want to verify that the contractor has general liability insurance and a workers compensation insurance policy.

3. One of the many questions asked is if the cost of snow removal from the roof is covered under your insurance policy. The answer is most likely yes if the ice dam is causing interior or exterior damages to your house. The insurance company will not pay for snow removal if it is for preventative measures. Please check with your insurance agency. This coverage will depend on your type of policy and insurance company that insures your home.

4. Another question asked is how will the deductible apply to an ice dam loss? Most insurance companies will consider a one deductible occurrence until the snow is no longer on the roof. Agian, your insurance company or agency can provide you the details on how the deductible will apply to your ice dam loss.