Category Archives: Condo Insurance Worcester MA

Fire Safety: Prevention Tips to Protect You and Your Family

If you’re a homeowner, comprehensive insurance coverage usually includes damage caused by fire. But it’s always good to double-check that this is covered. If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative, you could get dwelling fire insurance, which is cheaper than traditional policies. If you rent a house, particularly a historic or older home, or if you own a seasonal rental property, you could be eligible for dwelling fire insurance. You also might be eligible if you’re a landlord of a multi-family home.

A fire disaster is one of those events that you hope never happens, but hopefully have planned for when you buy insurance coverage. At the same time, it’s good to be prepared ahead of time, because it’s better to prevent a fire than to have to deal with the consequences and damage caused by one. Here are a few fire safety tips to keep in mind:

Have a family action plan.

Know where all of the exits are and have a plan as to how each family member will escape in the event of a fire. Even if you live by yourself, know how you would escape and how you’d save your pet if you have one. Be able to leave your house within two minutes, because that might be all the time you have. Practice your fire escape plan with your family at least twice a year.

Make sure your electrical system is up to code.

If you’re a landlord, you don’t want to have to worry that your building may not be covered after a fire because you were in violation of safety codes.

Test your smoke alarms.

You should have smoke alarms on every level of your home, in every bedroom, and outside of sleeping areas.

Make sure all fire alarms in your home are checked and tested every month and batteries replaced at least once a year. Every 10 years you should have the whole system replaced.

Eliminate household hazards.

Very often fires are caused by the smallest things, such as a cigarette burning on a couch, or an appliance that wasn’t turned off. If you get into the habit of being fire safety conscious, you’ll be able to prevent a fire. For example, when you cook, always make sure the stove and oven are off when you’re finished. If you use appliances when you get ready in the morning, such as a hairdryer or curling iron, be sure to unplug them. If you light any candles, make sure they are all blown out before you go to sleep or leave your house.

During winter, there are added dangers with space heaters. Never place a space heater too close to furniture, curtains or anything that could catch fire. Never leave the room where a space heater is operating, and always make sure you shut it off and unplug it when you’re done using it.

Following these tips could save your life, as well as protect your home from fire damage.

When shopping for homeowner’s insurance, be sure to contact the professionals at Zawada Insurance Agency to understand all of your options and choose the policy that’s right for you.

Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. is a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.

Home and Auto Insurance Surprises

When shopping for insurance, it can get pretty confusing. Some policies have so much fine print you may not be sure what you’re getting. Here are some of the most common truths that surprise people when they get insurance. Make sure you have all of the facts, so you won’t be surprised!

You’re not automatically protected from Mother Nature.

Many Homeowner’s Insurance policies don’t automatically cover things like flood, earthquake and other natural disasters. So make sure you’re covered for these things.

You may not get top dollar for your home in the event of a disaster.

Your Homeowner’s Insurance will be based on what it would cost to rebuild your home, NOT on the real estate market value of your house. These costs vary, so check with your insurance agent.

Auto Insurance doesn’t cover tractors.

Homeowner’s Insurance covers things like tractors, garden equipment and storage sheds. In fact, it covers things that aren’t necessarily attached to your home—a detached garage, patio, fence, etc.

Cars with automatic transmission are more likely to be stolen.

More Americans don’t know how to drive a manual, or stick, shift. That’s why automatic cars are more appealing to would-be thieves.

If you buy a home out in the country, you could be paying more for insurance.

Insurance companies like to know that your house is in a safe location, not far from a fire department or neighbors who can lend a hand if something goes wrong. That’s why, if you live in a remote area, your costs tend to go up.

Older homes equal higher insurance rates.

Insurance is all about risks—assessing whether your risks are high or low. If you choose to buy an older home, it’s assumed the plumbing may be old, the roof may be about to give out. But if you want to buy an older home, there are things you can do to lower your costs. Make sure the electrical is updated, as well as the pipes, to reduce the chances of accidents. And if necessary, install a new roof.

Comprehensive Auto Insurance doesn’t cover everything.

Comprehensive Auto Insurance pays for events besides collisions. These include fire, theft, vandalism, weather and accidents involving animals. It does NOT cover personal property. For instance, if your laptop is crushed in an accident, you’ll need Homeowner’s Insurance to cover it.

Auto Insurance carriers factor in many things when determining rates.

It isn’t just about the age of the driver and driving history. When you purchase a new car, insurance  companies look at the age of the car, make, model, engine size and whether or not there are any special safety features in the car. They also factor in the amount you drive per day.

At Zawada Insurance Agency, we’ll help you shop around to find the best deals on every kind of insurance—including bundling, if it helps you to save more.

Please contact Zawada Insurance Agency for details.

Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. is a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.

How To Lower Your Insurance Risks

Are You a Landlord?

How To Lower Your Insurance Risks

Owning an apartment building can be an exciting venture and wise investment. But it does come with its share of responsibilities.

Make Sure You’re Covered

As a landlord, you can be vulnerable to liability claims by tenants and / or contractors doing work on your property. And it isn’t just things like property damage or bodily injury, either. Of course, you want to make sure your property is as safe as possible to reduce the likelihood that someone could slip and fall. In past blogs, we’ve talked about making sure you have coverage for theft, vandalism, storms, fire, acts of nature, flooding—all necessary coverages.

But there are other liability issues you may not have thought of.

For instance, Advertising Liability encompasses things like libel and slander. In this age of social media, be especially careful about what you post. If you make a reference to a competitor in a negative way or repost an unflattering image of someone without their permission, you could be at risk. You also need to be careful of any advertising that misrepresents your property.

What Things Can You Be Held Liable For?

Here are just a few of the things that you, as a landlord, could be held liable for:

  • If your negligence caused an injury.
  • If asbestos is discovered, and you didn’t take steps to contain it, and a tenant becomes sick.
  • If old plumbing isn’t replaced, and a leak damages a tenant’s property.
  • If there is a break-in because of little or no security—broken locks, poor lighting, etc.

How Landlords Can Save on Liability Costs

There are several things that you, as a landlord, can do to ensure that you lower your risk of liability claims. First, make sure that all electrical and gas appliances and lines are in good working condition. Fix any plumbing leaks and do a thorough inspection of pipes. This is not only to prevent flooding, but also mold, which can result from trapped moisture. Do a thorough maintenance check before a tenant moves in and include all of these things, as well as anything that could be a potential fire hazard.

For security purposes, provide a good amount of outdoor lighting at night. Install peep holes in every door. Have all sidewalks and parking lot area cleared of snow and ice after a storm.

As a protection for yourself, keep all communications with tenants in writing. If something is ever disputed and you have to go to court, you’ll have it all on paper. Also, never enter a tenant’s apartment unless it’s an emergency, such as a fire. And don’t discriminate against a potential tenant based on things like race or religion, etc.

Last But Not Least. . .

Check what discounts may be available for making enhancements to your property. Don’t make the mistake of reducing your coverage to save a few bucks. In the long run, it’s better to have a higher deductible, so you’ll get a lower premium.

Zawada Insurance Agency is your go-to place for home, auto and other types of insurance. Please contact Zawada Insurance Agency for details.

Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. is a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.

5 Condo Insurance Mistakes to Avoid

What You Should Know

Congratulations! You own a condominium. You know everything about the condo and surrounding complex (on-site gym, swimming pool?) that made you fall in love with it. Now it’s time to know about condo insurance as well as you know your new home. It’s that all-important layer of protection you’ll need should something unforeseen and unexpected arise. Here are some of the mistakes new condo owners make when buying insurance. Even before you purchase your condo, understand what NOT to do, and you’ll be a well-informed homeowner.

  1. DON’T get a “bare walls-in” master policy. “Bare walls-in” only covers everything inside the condo, but not bath or kitchen fixtures, floors, or architectural details within the condo itself. If you have “all-in” coverage, you won’t have to worry should something shatter your granite countertop in the kitchen. Often those with only “bare walls-in” coverage will have to purchase additional coverage to make sure they don’t have to pay extra if any of these interior things get damaged. However, as with all things relating to insurance policies, it may depend on your budget as to which coverage you can afford. But if you want greater protection, “all-in” is the way to go.
  2. DON’T choose cash value over replacement cost. In your policy, you’ll likely have the option to choose one or the other. If a major appliance breaks, and you’ve chosen cash value, you’ll receive the amount that appliance cost when you originally bought it. That means it could be worth much less if the appliance was purchased several years ago. If, on the other hand, you choose replacement cost, you’ll receive enough money to buy another appliance. Going with cash value may not leave you with enough money to replace what you lost.
  3. DON’T be turned off by high condo association fees. Okay, sometimes the fees are just too high for your budget. Period. However, condo association fees contribute to covering the costs for damages to the communal areas of your condo complex. For instance, if someone sprays graffiti on the outside walls of the building, there will be enough funds to have it painted. If there is damage to the parking lot, sidewalks, any common areas shared by all. As a condo owner, your main concern is what is inside your condo. But since you’ll be part of a community, you’ll want there to be funds to take care of the rest of the property. Your condo association fees should go to those costs.
  4. DON’T sign any policy without reading the fine print. Yes, sometimes there is so much to read in contracts that you may be tempted to go ahead and sign. An insurance broker like the professionals at Zawada can help you to better understand your policy before you sign anything. What’s most important is that you know what you’ll be responsible for and what your insurance covers. For instance, most condo insurance policies cover situations like burglary, but you’ll want to make sure that’s included. Personal property coverage is usually required to cover the cost of personal belongings that have been stolen, such as jewelry and other valuables. You’re your policy so you’ll know if that’s included. Also, liability insurance will protect you if someone is injured inside your condo. It will cover medical costs if someone has fallen on your tile floor or other type of injury.
  5. DON’T ignore the cost of your policy or the deductible. This is the biggest mistake you can make. Is your deductible too high for your budget? And what is considered a reasonable deductible for your particular property type and policy? Answering these questions is made easier when you consult with professionals who can tell you what IS and what ISN’T typical, so you’ll be alerted to any red flags. For example, your condo association’s master policy may have a $5,000 deductible. If there are only ten condo owners, you’d have to pay $500 to cover common property damage. If, however, there are twenty condo owners, each owner would only have to pay $250. Please note—deductibles can go as high as $50,000 in some cases. So know what the costs are before you buy! Also, condo insurance can vary from $100 to $400 a year, so make sure whatever you choose is within your budget.

For all your home, auto and other insurance needs, please contact Zawada Insurance Agency. We work to give you comprehensive coverage at a competitive price.

Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. is a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.

Master Condo Policies: What They Cover and What They Don’t

Congratulations! You’ve purchased a condominium. Now you need to make sure you have homeowners insurance just as you would if you owned a free-standing house. Usually homeowners insurance will cover loss and liability, as well as your personal items and the people inside the condo.

A master condo policy covers different things. The master policy should be paid for by your condo association fees. There are two types of master policies: “bare walls-in” and “all-in.”

Bare Walls-In

This type of policy will cover the property from the exterior framing inward, but doesn’t cover fixtures and installations within the actual condo unit itself. These include flooring, granite countertops, bath and kitchen fixtures, etc.

All-In

This covers everything including fixtures and interior additions—everything inside the walls of the condo unit.

Here are some other things the master condo policy should cover:

  1. Limited Common Elements

A condo’s master policy should treat you as part-owner of “limited common elements.” These include things on the exterior of the building, from the framing to the sidewalks, lawns, roads and other exterior elements. Through the policy, these areas should be insured against loss and liability.

  1. Ordinance and Law Coverage

This is good to have when repairs, renovations, or major projects like painting become necessary. The condo association will hire contractors to work on the renovations, and this will cover the cost. It will also cover costs due to repairs if the property should become damaged. Ordinance and Law Coverage protects you against weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Flood insurance may be mandated if you live in a flood zone. Otherwise, it’s an optional, but important, item to consider having in your policy.

  1. Inflation Coverage

This is designed to keep pace with inflation, should something in the exterior of the building need to be repaired. The cost that is covered shouldn’t be what the repair would have cost years ago, so this coverage keeps it up-to-date.

  1. Comprehensive General Liability

If someone trips and falls on the sidewalk of your condominium complex, this protects condo owners from legal liability in case of bodily or personal injury. It also covers property damage.

  1. Backup of Drain and Sewer

This gives you coverage for unforeseen accidents that could affect your personal property.

The master condo policy, or the condo association policy, should also cover those things that you, as the condo owner, may not even think about. A dishonest employee working in the mail room, for instance.

For your own protection, it’s a good idea, as a condo owner, to get personal property coverage. This will protect you from burglary if someone breaks in and steals your personal items inside your individual unit.

Last but not least, before you purchase a condo, make sure you know what the association deductible will be. For example, if an act of nature, such as a hurricane, should damage the building, every condo unit owner is expected to make a payment toward the association deductible. Make sure it’s not too expensive.

For all your home, auto and other insurance needs, please contact Zawada Insurance Agency. We work to give you comprehensive coverage at a competitive price.

Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. is a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.

Condo Association Insurance: Does Your Policy Include This?

A condo owner is responsible for insuring everything within the walls of his or her condominium. The rest of the building, everything that condo owners share, falls to the condo association to be insured. The purpose of a condo association is to represent the needs of the condo owners, as well as to protect the property as a whole. That is why it is necessary to have condo association insurance. There are many things that can’t always be anticipated, so you want your insurance to protect you in the event of such circumstances, even the ones you don’t think about.

There are basically two kinds of master policies for condo association insurance. Bare Walls-In covers the property from the exterior to the inside, but doesn’t cover kitchen and bathroom fixtures, granite countertops and other things within the condo unit. All-In is a policy that covers all interior fixtures, walls, floors and ceilings.

There are many things a condo association policy should cover, including:

Building Coverage. This relates to the master policy, providing coverage for the building structure and anything attached to it. This could be flooring, fixtures, cabinets, or architectural details, depending on which master policy you have. It also covers common buildings where condo owners may congregate, such as a lobby area, mailroom building or indoor pool building. Anything that is considered part of the property would be included in building coverage. Coverage for drain and sewer backups will pay for accidental damage at your building.

Liability. First, you need liability to protect from claims made against members of the association board. Comprehensive general liability helps protect you from legal issues caused by property damage, personal or bodily injury and other related things.

Protection from Dishonest Employees. This coverage is helpful in case an employee steals money or important documents.

Ordinance and Law Coverage becomes necessary if the condo association needs to hire contractors to work on renovations, painting or other services—this will cover the cost. It will also cover costs incurred for repairs in the event the property is damaged. You will also have protections against weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Flood insurance may be mandated if you live in a flood zone. Otherwise, it’s an optional, but important, item to consider having in your policy.

Replacement cost will pay for the cost of damaged property, depending on the policy limitations. You’ll want to make sure you have inflation coverage as well. This will increase the amount of insurance on your building and association’s property to keep up with inflation.

There are other coverages that should be included in your policy, including Loss of Income. Up to a year of lost income will be covered if the business can’t operate due to some accident or loss that the policy covers.

For all of your home, auto and other insurance needs, please contact Zawada Insurance Agency. We work to give you comprehensive coverage at a competitive price.

Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. is a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.

True or False: Insurance Quiz

Can you guess which of these 8 statements are true?

There are myths about insurance—auto, home, health—and they persist in spite of the facts. As we’ve said in other blogs, it’s important to get the facts straight before you purchase insurance of any kind. Here are eight true and false statements to see how well you understand insurance.

  1. Vehicles stored in your home or garage are covered under your Homeowner’s policy.

False. Cars and other vehicles should be covered by Auto Insurance. Garden tractors and other related items are part of what is covered by Homeowner’s Insurance.

  1. Commercial Liability Insurance provides coverage for your employees who are injured on the job.

False. Only Workers Compensation covers on-the-job injuries.

  1. Homeowner’s Insurance is based on the real estate market value of your house.

False. Your coverage is based on what it would cost to rebuild your home. This cost can vary, so an insurance agent can help you calculate these costs.

  1. The Affordable Care Act prohibits health insurance companies from basing rates on pre-existing conditions.

True. Health insurance companies used to raise the rates for people with a pre-existing condition. Not anymore. For those who have medical conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma and other chronic, pre-existing medical issues, this is a big relief. In addition, insurance companies can’t charge different amounts for men and women, either.

  1. It’s not necessary to have Other Structures coverage in your Homeowner’s policy.

False. But this is a trick question. It depends on you, the homeowner. Your Homeowner’s policy, at least 10% of it at least, is devoted to Other Structures. These include any buildings or structures not attached to your house—sheds, barns (not used for business), detached garages, driveways and fencing. You can always add to your Other Structures coverage if you need more. But it is important to keep it as part of your policy in the event of some unfortunate occurrence.

  1. If you get a speeding ticket in another state, it WILL follow you home.

True. Not only will it follow you, but it will also affect your insurance rates.

  1. Homeowner’s policies cover flood, earthquake and other natural disasters.

True. . .and False. They don’t automatically cover these things. Make sure you have it, or add it to your policy. The majority of policies exclude types of water damage.

  1. If your boat is hitched to the back of your vehicle on the highway and you back into someone, your Auto Insurance will cover it.

True. However, it will be limited to the coverage that your Auto Insurance provides, so it may not pay for property damage, injury or loss of life.

Keep checking our blog for more tips and advice about all types of insurance.

For all your home, auto, boat and other insurance needs, please contact Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. We’re a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.