By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Westborough – This winter has provided ample evidence of the need for adequate insurance coverage and efficient claims service as ice dams caused countless instances of water damage and even roof collapses in area homes.
“We’ve seen definitely double, and maybe three or four times the number of claims from water damage caused by ice dams this year compared to past winters,” noted Stan Szajna, co-owner and treasurer of Northeast Insurance with Scott Bulger, president.
Such damage, he said, is covered by most homeowners’ policies, and people should call their insurance agent, who will send an adjustor out to assess the extent of the damage, and who will help process the claim.
A winter like the one this area has just experienced is a good reason homeowners should have an insurance professional review their coverage periodically.
“It’s important to review your insurance coverage at least every other year because situations change. The first thing to look at on a homeowner’s policy is amount of coverage, to be sure the house is insured to replacement value, not to real estate value or tax value. We have replacement costs estimators to get to a realistic value.
“An independent agent can help analyze your situation. You don’t have to wait until a policy renews. The best thing is to review it beforehand, whenever you’re thinking about it, because changes can be made at any time.”
Northeast Insurance sells property and casualty insurance, specializing in auto, homeowner, life and business insurance and representing about 40 different insurance companies.
“Every company we represent has a little different strength and pricing ability. We can evaluate your needs and match them to a company and possibly improve coverage and price,” Szajna said. Northeast also can arrange coverage for coastal properties with reasonable or no wind deductibles.
With the severe winter on the way out, Szajna pointed out policies Northeast has that are more suitable to spring and summer needs, including insurance for larger boats and now coverage for classic and collectible cars.
“We have coverage for both antique and collectible cars that is both comprehensive and affordable,” he said. Smaller boats are frequently covered by a standard homeowner’s policy, but larger boats may need separate insurance.
The firm also offers condominium coverage, both for condo associations seeking to insure the entire complex, and for individual owners looking to cover their personal items within the walls of their condo.
Szajna said homeowners might also want to consider adding umbrella coverage to their current policy as protection against liability claims.
“Umbrella coverage is excess liability coverage over your other insurance policies. It provides a higher limit beyond your base home, auto, and other coverage. Umbrella coverage goes into effect after the limits of your other policies are exceeded, and can also help cover legal costs in a liability lawsuit.”
And if someone is operating a home-based business, additional coverage may be advisable.
“If you have a business in the home, especially if you see clients, there is exposure with people coming on the property, so you want to make sure you have a rider that would cover that exposure. If you are selling or distributing merchandise and keep inventory in your home, that inventory needs to be insured, and you may also need to cover business equipment,” he said.
Northeast Insurance’s Westborough office is located in Colonial Plaza, 45 East Main St. For additional information, call the office at 508-898-2902 or visit the website, www.neinsure.com. The company also has offices in Auburn, Lexington, Needham, Falmouth and Provincetown.