5 Tips for Boating Safely this Summer

The weather is warming up and it’s time to hit the water.  With nearly 12 million registered recreational boats in the U.S., the waterways become a very busy destination.  Before you set sail with your friends and family, here are a few tips to keep everyone safe and enjoy your time on the water.

Life Jackets

When boating, it is required by law that you carry proper and enough life vests for all persons aboard your vessel.  Drowning is the cause of nearly 80% of fatalities in boating accidents. Of that, nearly 90% were not wearing a life jacket.  Insist that your crew accompanying you wear a life jacket that fits them properly.  Wearing a life jacket greatly increases your chance of survival if find yourself overboard.

Boating Safety Course

Taking a boater safety course is a great way to learn the finer details of safe boating.  Most courses can now be done online and for free.  They will cover everything from rules of the road and navigation, to proper life jackets and other required safety equipment.  Out of all boating fatalities, only 13% occurred on vessels where the skipper received a nationally recognized boating safety certificate.  Completing a safety course can also qualify you for discounts with most boat insurance carriers.

Free Vessel Safety Check

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost.  Their certified vessel examiners check your boat’s equipment and provide you information on where your vessel may be lacking.  Most local marinas and yacht clubs will have the information for your local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron.

Watch the Weather

A smooth day on the water can quickly turn rough when the wind kicks up.  Always check the weather forecast before setting sail and keep a watchful eye for ever changing conditions.  If possible, operate your vessel on the leeward side of the bay, lake, or river in high wind situations.

File a Float Plan

A float plan is a detailed outline of your destination is for the day and your estimated return time.  Letting a friend or family member know where you will be boating and your estimated time of return is often overlooked safety item.  In emergency situations, this allows that person to notify the authorities of your expected location.  Remember to plan your float and float your plan.

With an ever-increasing number of boaters, these few tips will help assure that you have a safe and fun trip on the water.  To assure your vessel is not only inured, but insured correctly, reach out to office  and our team will guide you through the process.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

As Spring is setting in, we start hearing the birds chirping and the trees are starting to bud with their blooms, we start thinking about preparing for what comes with every Spring and Summer in Florida… rain. Lots and lots of rain. As much as we need (and want!) the rain, if you have damage to your home that is caused by rain, it can be confusing if you needed to file a claim to repair that damage. In fact, many Florida homeowners have never heard of the term, “wind-driven rain” until they had damage to their home and found out their home insurance doesn’t cover it. So, what is wind-driven rain and how do you know if your policy has it covered?

Wind-driven rain can be very confusing when you’re unfamiliar with the concept. For the sake of being brief, wind-driven rain damage is caused when there is no hole or entry point for the rainwater to come in from, but is still pushed inside your home by wind. For example, if wind caused rain to enter through the window seals, soffits, or siding and then caused damage. The best way to look at it is, if the wind wasn’t there, the rain itself probably wouldn’t have caused damage.

Particularly in the state of Florida, this coverage is very important. However, because of the high likelihood of exposure, many insurance companies have put an exclusion on policies for this type of loss. As you can imagine, this could be very frustrating for someone to find out, usually after a storm… when it’s too late. There are a few things that you can do to help prevent this issue before it starts. You can do a series of proper maintenance steps to your home to ensure the seals around the windows and doors are tight, replace any broken window panes, replace missing or damaged siding, and keep your roof structure and soffits maintained.

Here at Bouchard, we have surrounded ourselves (and our clients) with some of the best companies available. Therefore, we have several carriers that include wind-driven rain in their policies and some companies may allow the coverage to be added back onto the policy for an additional premium charge.  So, if you are concerned about wind-driven rain or want to see if your policy includes it, please reach out to one of our team members to review your coverages with you! And if you know of a friend or family member that you think would be interested in protecting their home from wind-driven rain, share this article to increase awareness to such a common issue in Florida!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Christin Snow is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Christin is experienced in all lines of personal insurance. | Connect on LinkedIn

Going Green for St. Patrick's Day

If you’re anything like me, you love any reason to celebrate your heritage. With mine being Irish, I have St. Patrick’s Day festivities lined up every year. However, even if you’re not Irish, you can still take the opportunity to be green and get a little “Luck of the Irish” during this St. Patty’s Day! At my home, we don’t just wear green, we try our best to “Go Green”! Here are some tips for going green at your home to take your St. Patty’s day to the next level.  

Adjust your heating system.

If you are able to handle your temperature at a few degrees warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter, your system won’t have to work as hard and will be more energy efficient.

Upgrade windows and doors.

This is where a lot of heat and air can easily escape. Even if your windows are still in good shape, you can still do an upgrade by checking your window seals. They can wear down over time and replacing your seals can be an easier (and less expensive) alternative.

Fill your dishes and laundry with a full load.

This will do wonders to save on water consumption and save some green in your pocket!

Keep your air conditioning and heating system maintained and start thinking about replacing it after 15 years and about 10 years for your water heater.

When you are upgrading your system, check out the most energy efficient models. They can save you money over the long run and it’s a great way to “Go Green”.

Turn off electronics, lights, and appliances when you are not using them.

This will help save the planet and money.

Add more insulation to your home.

Your HVAC system may be working harder than necessary because of lack of insulation. You can always improve efficiency by adding some extra insulation to your home.

Recycle.

Many trash carriers in the area offer recycling service included in the trash service or for a little extra. You can even create bins in your own home for free and take to many area drop-off recycle locations!

Plant trees.

I heard recently that within 5 years of planting trees and plants to add shade the area around your energy bill could see a 3% savings and by 15 years you could see a savings of 12% on energy. Now, that’s saving some green!

Going green can be especially easy this year with these tips! Encourage your friends and family to do it too by sharing this article. It might save you a pinch or two in the future!

As always, reach out to your Bouchard agent if you have any questions about how we can help with your insurance or share more tips on “Going Green”.

Here are a couple of fun little Irish quotes to help guide you into St Patrick’s Day holiday:

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance!” – George Bernard Shaw. 

“God then made man. The Italians for their beauty. The French for their cuisine. The Welsh for their voices. The Germans for their cars. And on and on until He looked at what He had created and said, ‘This is all very well, but no-one is having fun. I'll have to make an Irishman.’" - Unknown.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christin Snow is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Christin is experienced in all lines of personal insurance. | Connect on LinkedIn

Auto Insurance: Easier Than Your March Madness Bracket

2019 is in full swing and we're a few weeks out from the start of March Madness, the three weeks of college basketball glory! Office and neighborhood pool registrations are open and you're gearing up to make your picks and set your bracket. Completing a bracket takes time and careful thought, but completing the perfect bracket is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance. On average, there is an auto accident in the U.S. every 4.6 seconds. Making sure you are covered against these odds is much easier than picking your March Madness bracket.

Your auto insurance breaks down into three major sections: liability coverage if you cause an accident, medical coverage for yourself and passengers, and physical damage for your vehicle.

Bodily Injury Liability coverage protects you for any bodily harm or death of another party involved in an accident that you may be liable for. The average liability cost of an accident with a non-disabling injury is $21,000. The average for an accident resulting in a disabling injury is $61,600, and expenses can climb over $1 million for fatal accidents. These figures include lost wages, medical expense, and vehicle damage.

Property Damage Liability covers you for any damage to another parties' property that you may cause with your covered vehicle. This includes, but is not limited to, another vehicle, personal belongings, bicycles, mailboxes, and telephone poles. The state of Florida requires that you carry Property Damage Liability on any motor vehicle tagged and registered for road use.

There is coverage available on your auto insurance that will cover to pay for medical expenses and lost wages for you. Personal Injury Protection, also commonly referred to as PIP, is that coverage. Like Property Damage Liability, PIP is a required coverage by the state for any registered motor vehicle. PIP is a $10,000 limit that will be the first coverage to pay for your medical expense if you're involved in an accident, no matter who is at fault. PIP claims are required to be filed within 14 days of an accident to receive the full benefit.

Uninsured or Under-Insured Motorist (UM) coverage is one of the most important coverages you can have. This coverage will reimburse you for medical expenses and lost wages you may incur from a not-at-fault accident where the at-fault party does not have liability insurance or enough liability insurance to cover their liable expense. This is crucial as medical insurance plans may have exclusions for injuries caused in an auto accident.

Finally, you have physical damage coverage for your vehicle. This is split into two separate coverages. Collision coverage repairs damage to your vehicle caused by colliding with another object. Whether it be another vehicle, a mailbox, or simply backing out of the garage and scraping the side of the car. Second, is comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage repairs damage to your vehicle caused by anything other than a collision. This includes, but is not limited to, fire, flood, and vandalism. If your car is parked in the garage during a hurricane and the house falls in on it, coverage would be provided by your auto policy and not your homeowner's policy. These two coverages also have deductibles that you may select as out-of-pocket expense for repairs to your vehicle.

That wasn't so bad, was it? Give our office a call and one of our agents will review your policy with you. We will provide an all-around review of your coverage and provide recommendations where your coverage may be lacking. With accidents becoming more frequent with more drivers on the road than ever, make sure you're protecting yourself, your family, and your assets.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raymond Killian is a Personal Lines Account Manager at Bouchard Insurance. Raymond is experienced in all lines of personal insurance.

Let’s Have a Conversation…About Valuable Articles Insurance

People take pride in collecting valuables and it’s vital that these items are insured with confidence.  Whether you are passionate about jewelry, fine arts, wine, coins, or other collectibles, it’s important to find a carrier who understands that these treasures reflect who you are and what is important to you. As an insurance advisor, I recognize the importance of insuring the special possessions that you may have inherited from a loved one or worked so hard to collect.

It’s easy to assume that your valuable articles are covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy; however, there are typically limits on the coverage that won’t cover your items to their full value. Your treasured collectibles should be protected for their true or appraised value and also be protected for the broadest coverage available.

Having a “Valuable Articles” insurance policy that is separate from your homeowner’s policy is the most effective way to insure your collections. Advantages of keeping your valuables separate from your homeowner’s policy include some of the following:

All-Risk Coverage

Unlike your homeowner’s insurance policy, most Valuable Articles policies cover all risks and typically have no deductible. If your collection is insured on a standard homeowner’s policy, there are exclusions and deductibles that apply to your valuables. Certain carriers, offer “all-risk” coverage for most causes of loss, usually without a deductible.

Worldwide Coverage

If you travel frequently, it’s important to have insurance coverage that follows you across the globe.  Imagine being overseas and your watch that you inherited from a family member was stolen. The last thing you would want to hear is that the watch isn’t covered. Different carriers recognize that these types of pieces are priceless and you should never doubt that you are covered, especially during a vacation.

 Mysterious Disappearance

Most homeowner’s policies exclude coverages for lost or misplaced items. High Net Worth carriers have policies that offer automatic coverage for misplaced, stolen, or lost items.

Blanket or Scheduled Items

With a standalone Valuable Articles policy, you have the option to protect an entire collection, schedule items individually, or do both.  This allows you to customize the coverage amounts that best fit your personal needs.

 As you can see, there are numerous benefits of having a standalone Valuable Articles policy.  It’s important to find an insurance carrier who understands the years that you have spent investing in managing your collections.  We recognize that our clients cherish their possessions and strive to teach them about why it’s valuable to have a collections policy that is personal to them.


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Abbey Bouchard, a Client Advisor in the Private Client division of Bouchard, specializes in high net worth personal insurance that focuses on affluent individuals with more complex insurance portfolios and exposures. As a third generation Bouchard working for Bouchard Insurance, Abbey’s purpose is to continually better serve the affluent client base by promoting exemplary service and always putting the client first. | Connect on LinkedIn