Buying Snowmobile Insurance: What to Know

Buying Snowmobile Insurance: What to Know
Winter is here and, in New York, you can be reasonably sure of one thing: Snow.  And lots of it.  If you’re like many people, you’ve come to love the snow and all the fun that winter has to offer.  But, you also know that winter is only fun if you’re prepared. This goes for something simple, like bundling up to go outside to take a walk or play a game.  And it goes for more important things like owning and operating a snowmobile.  One of the most important things you can do to get your snowmobile prepared is to make sure you have insurance.

Insurance is Mandatory

Did you know that, in New York, snowmobile insurance isn’t just a good idea — it’s the law? That’s right. State law requires anyone operating a snowmobile on public lands, or even crossing a public road, to have a minimum amount of insurance — $25,000 liability coverage for accidents involving one person, $50,000 for accidents involving two or more persons, and $10,000 for property damage. Keep in mind, though, that’s the minimum.  It’s always a good idea to look at options above and beyond the minimum.  With snowmobile insurance, many times, it’s at no additional cost.  Because, as you know, it doesn’t take long for the cost of damages to add up to over $10,000. Just like with auto insurance, there are plenty of other options available and it might be a good idea to consider some of those other options, just to keep you safe from future financial troubles.

Insuring Year-Round

One of the big questions that snowmobile owners ask is whether or not they should insure their snowmobile for the entire year. At first, this question makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, if you’re only going to get a few of months use out of the snowmobile, why bother insuring it for the entire year and paying all that extra money?  Well, there are two very good reasons for considering a year-round insurance purchase.

1) It’s Not as Expensive as You Think.

The biggest objection people have to year-round insurance is the cost. Who wants to pay for months of insurance when the snowmobile is tucked under a tarp, not being used? The difference in cost is not as great as you might think. That’s because insurers figure into the rates the time that snowmobiles are not in use.  Liability only policies can cost as little as $50 a year!  And cancelling the coverage will not result in a refund. In addition, many insurers are more willing to “lock in” better rates when you have year-round coverage. When you constantly cancel and re-write a policy, you might find yourself having to pay more than if you had just kept steady coverage.

2) Damage Can Still Happen in Storage

While you might think that insurance is simply unnecessary when your snowmobile is tucked away, keep in mind that insurance isn’t just about liability.  Just because it’s not winter doesn’t mean your property is out of harm’s way. A good, comprehensive insurance policy will also protect your snowmobile from damage  that can happen even when there’s no snow on the ground!  These incidents can include things like weather damage, fire or theft — all of which can leave you out of luck if you’re not properly covered during the off-season. And when you put these two reasons together, you’ll see that year-round coverage is worth it, no matter the season.

Other Things to Consider

When deciding on a policy, there are several factors to consider that will help determine the amount of coverage you get. For example: What Is Your History? Just like auto insurance, your driving history affects your cost.  If you have a clean record, then you can expect to pay less. It’s as simple as that.  So, drive safely out there! If you would like to know more about snowmobile insurance and what coverage is available to you , please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We are happy to provide you with some guidance along with a free quote!
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Do you need insurance for your Canoe or Kayak?

Most homeowners policies provide insurance coverage for a canoe or kayak (small paddle crafts valued at less than $1500) in the case of sinking, theft or damage to the craft.  If you use these at a second home, then you have to make sure they are included in your second home policy. If the value of your canoes/kayaks are over $1500, you might want to itemize them on your insurance policy along with other essential equipment like paddles and life vests.  You might also want to seek coverage to protect you in case you are responsible for an accident that causes injury or property damage. Although there is no mandatory insurance requirement in NY State for personal use of canoes or kayaks, it might be worth the cost for peace of mind.

If you are in the habit of loaning out your personal canoe or kayak or rowboat for others to use, then you might want to discuss a liability policy to provide coverage.  If you are renting or offering tours using small paddle craft, then the state will require you to provide coverage for your employees as well as customers. Often, a comprehensive watercraft insurance policy for your business will cover you for liability in case someone gets hurt as well as protection for your boats and equipment against damages, theft and loss.

If you are looking for guidance for other types of boat insurance (pontoons, small boats with engines, sailboats, jet skis, etc.), take a look through our article 5 Things to Consider When Buying Boat Insurance .

If you have an questions about insurance for your small crafts, you can contact us at our offices in Cooperstown and Morris, NY.  We are happy to assist you!

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How does Installing a Pool Affect Homeowners Insurance?

One of the small joys of the summer season for adults and children alike is being able to go swimming.  Cooling off in the water offers relief from the heat and humidity.   If you are looking for the convenience and benefits of having your own backyard pool, don’t forget to consider the added cost of insurance into your expenses.  

Installing a pool usually increases how much you pay annually for your homeowner’s insurance policy.  It can add costs to your standard premium for the following reasons.  

  • A pool is a high risk investment, so you can expect that you will need to increase your liability coverage to cover personal injuries and/or damages. Increasing your liability claim limit will cause an increase to your premium.  

  • Some homeowners opt to purchase an umbrella policy to protect against potential lawsuits and other damages up to $1 million, costing an additional $200-$300 per year to the policy holder.

  • In-ground pools can be seen in two ways by policies – either as part of the home or as external structures.  If your pool is considered part of your home, increasing the replacement cost value in your policy by the amount it costs to install the pool increases your maximum claim limit and therefore also your premium.  If your pool is considered an external structure, you might want to pay for more coverage.  This is because a lot of policies cover the cost to replace external structures only up to 10% of the value of your home as listed in your policy, and that might not be enough to cover your costs for replacement.  

  • Above-ground pools, however, are considered personal property.  Many home insurance policies cover personal property up to 75% the replacement cost value of your home, and your pool may be included in that, unless your policy puts a claim limit on swimming pools.  If it doesn’t, then you will probably be set in the event that damage is done to your pool, unless your pool is very expensive.

  • Some safety features are required in many states, such as fencing, and they may also minimize the amount that is added to your premium.  Some pool accessories, such as slides and diving boards, are seen as increased risk to providers.  If your pool has them, it may not be covered at all, or it may cost more to protect.  

  • In warmer areas where swimming pools are more common and often-used, the amount of increase to the annual premium may be less than in areas where they are less in-use.

  • If you don’t declare your pool in your policy or notify your provider that you are installing one, you won’t have to pay the increased premium, but you may be in more debt later because of it, and your provider will not be likely to step in to aid you, this time or the next.  

The bottom line is that getting a pool may mean that you will end up paying more for your homeowner’s insurance policy, but it depends on the type of pool you get, its accessories, your location, and how much protection you decide to invest in.  If you are considering a pool, our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency can help to answer your questions.  Be sure to give us a call at (607) 547-2951 (Cooperstown Office) or at (607) 263-5170 (Milford Office).

 

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5 Things to Consider When Buying Boat Insurance

We understand that, with summer right around the corner and water temperatures sure to be rising, you want to get back out on that water fast.  While the draws of Glimmerglass and other bodies of water are many, your safety is nothing to be hasty about, and so here we provide 5 things to consider when buying boat insurance.  

  1. Your Boat is Not Covered by your Auto & Homeowners Insurance Policies
  • Auto & Homeowners Policies Limitations
    • While your auto insurance will cover your boat when you are traveling with it attached to your vehicle on land, it does not cover your boat when it is in the water.  
    • Similarly, your homeowners insurance will cover your boat for damage done to it while it is on your property, but, when your boat is on the water, it will usually only cover a small boat or at most; a boat with a small engine in certain waterways.  It also often does not cover for salvage work, wreck removal, and pollution or environmental damage.
  • Similarities with the Other Policies:
    • As with homeowners insurance, your boat insurance covers you for injury to others while they are on your boat, and it also offers you replacement cost or cash value in the event of damages.  
    • Like your auto insurance, your boat insurance covers you for your boat’s damage to others and others’ boats and docks, as well as for the damage done to your own boat by others’ or the environment.  Furthermore, it can be additionally protected against its theft or theft of contents (often specialty gear), against vandalism, fires and floods.  It can also cover you for towing and while you are outside of the US.
  • Differences from the Auto & Homeowners Policies:
    • Unlike these two other policies, your boat insurance policy can be suspended while your boat is not in use, which can save you some money.
    • Your boat insurance policy also covers you for permanently attached items like motors, oars, anchors, and navigational equipment.

 

  1. Pick the Right Agent (Check with our Team at the Bieritz Agency and Morris Insurance)
  • It is never fun to suffer a loss and then be pressed into haggling over discrepancies in the insurance policy, so it is wise to put the effort in upfront by locating the right agent for you, and thoroughly discussing your needs with them.  
  • Make sure they are familiar with boats and boating.
  • Make sure they are connected with well-respected marine insurer companies.
  • Make sure they are providing you with advice that is reasonable and applicable to you and your boating needs.
  1. Factors that Affect Policy Cost
    • Where you Plan to Boat:
      • Inland or coastal
      • Freshwater ($) or saltwater ($$$)
      • In-country or out-of-country
      • Specific locations out-of-country
    • Storm Plan
      • In the event of a strong storm, whether or not you decide to have your boat stored in a secure facility or towed to a safer locale could affect your policy price.  If you want to be covered for damage done during a storm, you must follow the plan.
    • Agency
      • You can bundle your policies and get discounts if you buy your boat insurance from the same insurance company that holds your auto and homeowners policies.

 

  • Type of Boat

 

  • Suspension
    • During the off-season (or times of the year when your boat is not being used), you can suspend your policy and reduce your costs.
  • Things that may Qualify for Discounts:
    • Taking a boating class or previous training and certification in classes
    • Good driving and boating record
    • Safety equipment and fixtures
  1. Agreed vs. Market/Actual Cash Value
  • Like cars, your boat suffers a decrease in the amount of money it is worth as soon as you put it on the water, and it continues to decrease with time.  
  • When you agree on a policy with your agent, you can decide whether, in the event of your boat being partially or completely destroyed, you want to be reimbursed to an “agreed value” or a “market/actual cash value.”  
  • Agreed value is what you and your agent decide the boat’s worth is at the time of purchasing insurance for it.  
  • It tends to cost more than market/actual cash value, which is the value of the boat in its “lifespan” at the time of the incident.  
  • While you might get more money back for damages with agreed value, insurers may push for actual cash value, which could offer you savings at the time of purchasing the policy.  

 

  1. Whether or not you feel your craft should be insured, it might be a good idea to buy a minimum liability coverage worth at least $500,000.  

 

Accidents happen, and it is always helpful to have something to fall back on!  If you are looking for information about insuring your boat, give our team a call at either of our offices in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170.  

 

Be safe and enjoy the water!

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Snowmobiling Safety Resources

snowmobiling safety resourcesSnowmobiling is fun, but it doesn’t come without potential risks.  The ability to take a snowmobile for an exhilarating and challenging ride sometimes far away from civilization and in freezing temperatures comes with the responsibility of making sure you know how to operate it, of knowing the area you’re riding in, and of knowing what to do should things go wrong.  Learning regulations, precautions, and other safety tips helps to ensure that the risks of riding don’t become reality.  Although reading about them can feel like a chore, having them behind you gives you a confidence that can boost enjoyment of the activity altogether.  

The following are resources about snowmobiling safety that cover many of the ways you can exert more control over your ride, and through that, gain the freedom and fun that you might have sought in the first place.

  • SnowmobileCourse.com www.snowmobilecourse.com/usa/newyork/snowmobile-laws.aspx
    A short highlight of laws and regulations mostly regarding age, one exception to them, and a brief reminder of safety practices.  This site also includes links to more detailed information about the laws and regulations of snowmobiling, links to more information about Fresh Air Educators Inc.’s New York State Approved Snowmobile Safety Course, as well as to more information about how to obtain the required snowmobiling safety certificate.

  • International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) www.snowmobile.org/snowmobiling-safety.html
    A longer and more detailed cautionary that covers alcohol use, awareness one’s own abilities and limits as well as that of their machine, snowmobiling gear and other ways of dressing for the weather, hypothermia, respecting others’ property, knowing the route and informing others about the plan, driving over ice, and driving in the dark.  It also included a Safe Riders! pledge to riding safely, as well as links to ordering safety brochures and to a test.  Lastly, the site described their Safe Riders! Snowmobile Safety Awareness Program, and offered a link at the bottom of the page in a picture to beginning it.

  • SnowTracks
    http://snowtracks.com/snowmobile-safety/
    Another longer and detailed cautionary article that opens with ultimately asking riders to prioritize safety while driving.  It continues with a cautionary about different conditions to be on the lookout for, such as thin ice and hidden obstacles beneath snow, and then it strongly deters against mixing alcohol and snowmobiling.  It also details what to do if the vehicle breaks through the ice, and then advises on keeping a repair kit for the machine, along with other maintenance necessities.  It finally addresses the environment, and talks about how to respect it and adapt to it, as well as how to determine risk to oneself from it.  

Freedom on the snow comes with the responsibility of investing in caring for oneself, one’s mode of travel, and one’s surroundings.  Doing so grants us more security that fun is all that is had on snowmobile outings.

If you are looking for information about insuring your snowmobile, give our team a call at either of our offices in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170.  Be safe and enjoy the snow!

 

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Backyard Fire Pit Safety

camping-700215_1280Outdoor fire pits have become an increasingly popular outdoor home accessory.   If you have a fire pit or are considering adding one to your yard, here are a few things you should think about for safety.

Siting:

  1. Check with your local building codes officer to determine if there is a legal minimum distance for placement of your fire pit from any built structures on your property (your home, sheds, etc.).
  2. Typically you want to place your fire pit in an open area with seating arranged with plenty of space for guests to maneuver around the fire without coming too close.
  3. There should be good ventilation around the fire pit as well.

 

Safety:

  1. Use seasoned hard woods like oak or maple for your fires as softer woods (pines and cedars) have a greater tendency to pop and splinter when burned and can cause burning embers to fly.
  2. Start your fire with kindling only and avoid using lighter fluids of any kind in your fire pit.
  3. Use a screen to cover your fire pit to keep any stray embers from flying out.
  4. Never leave a fire pit unattended and keep a careful eye on children when the fire pit is in use.
  5. Don’t allow blankets or loose flammable clothing (nylons) near the fire pit.
  6. Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby to fully extinguish the fire when you are done (or use a garden host set for a wide gentle spray), and allow coals to fully cool for 24 hrs. before disposal.

 

Insurance:

  1. Check with your insurance company to find out if your policy holder requires you to declare use of a fire pit at your home.

If you should have any questions about your insurance, please feel free to contact our team at Bieritz Agency in Cooperstown (607) 547-2951 or Morris Insurance in Morris at (607) 263-5170.  We are happy to help you!

 

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Safe Riders Video

The video below is put together by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association and contains comprehensive information about safe snowmobiling. Twenty minutes well-spent if you are new to this sport! We wish all our snowmobiling friends and clients a safe season. Please let us know if you have any questions about your insurance needs for your vehicle!

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Snowmobiling in Otsego County

If you are a snowmobiling enthusiast, you know that our area is a great place to play!  According to iloveny.com, New York offers over 10,400 miles of trails throughout the state.  There are over 230 local clubs associated with the New York State Snowmobiling Association and information available on events, trails, places to stay, tips and more.  This coming weekend is a free snowmobiling weekend to encourage out-of-state and Canadian enthusiasts to sled in NY (the registration fee is waived for the weekend for properly registered and insured out-of state snowmobilers).

Locally, there are some great snowmobiling resources available for riders.  One of our favorite resources is a locally developed phone app that can be accessed even when cellular data service is not available – a great feature for when you are not sure what direction to go when riding our local trails.  The premium app for all of New York State is available for download at both the AppStore and Google Play for $20.  Find parking, areas of interest, tourism locations, stopping areas and trails and trail conditions along with additional tools to help plan your route.  This technology is developed by Mohawk Valley GIS , a Utica based company established in 2003 by Linda Rockwood.

You can access the information online as well at http://www.nysnowmobilewebmap.com/webmap/ and you can find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NYSnowmobileWebMap

snowmobilemap

 

Don’t forget, if you need help with insurance for your Snowmobile, we are happy to assist you!  Contact our team at our Cooperstown office at 607-547-2951 or at our Morris Office at 607-263-5170.

 

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Hosting a Superbowl Party this Weekend?

superbowl2015If you find yourself as host to a large gathering this weekend for Superbowl Sunday, this article has some great information about Social Host Liability.

Content provided by the Insurance Information Institute: http:iii.org

Social Host Liability

Be a Responsible Host When It Comes to Serving Alcohol at Parties
Whether you are hosting a Super Bowl party or greeting the New Year with friends in your home, if you are planning to serve alcohol at any type of party it is important to take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you have the proper insurance.
Social host liability, the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest, can have a serious impact on party throwers. Social host liability, also known as “Dram Shop Liability” laws vary widely from state to state, but 43 states have them on the books. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.
While a social host is not liable for injuries sustained by a drunken guest (as they are also negligent), the host can be held liable for third parties, and may even be liable for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car.
Before planning a party in your home, it is important to speak with your insurance agent or company representative about your homeowners coverage and any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have for this kind of risk. Homeowners insurance usually provides some liquor liability coverage, but it is typically limited to $100,000 to $300,000, depending on the policy, which might not be enough.
Most importantly, whether you are hanging out with a small group of friends for cocktails or throwing a big family bash, remember that a good host is a responsible host, and takes steps to ensure guests get home safely if they have been drinking.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Guests

If you plan to serve alcohol at a party the I.I.I. offers the following tips to promote safe alcohol consumption and reduce your social host liability exposure:
  • Make sure you understand your state laws. Before sending out party invitations, familiarize yourself with your state’s social host liability laws. These laws vary widely from state to state. Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.
  • Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
  • Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers.
  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.
  • Be a responsible host/hostess. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.
  • Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.

http://www.iii.org/article/social-host-liability

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Insuring Your Summer Toys

boatlakeAfter a long winter, we bet you are more than ready for summer and all of the things you can do to take advantage of the warmer weather.  The pool is open and your boat or jetski is in the water, all ready to enjoy for the season.  Think for a moment and consider your insurance.  Are you prepared for the possibility of an accident?

Summer ‘ toys’ can include an RV (recreational vehicle) for your summer travel or an ATV (all terrain vehicle), a PWC (personal watercraft) like a jet ski or waverunner or boat, or even things like a golf cart, a motorcycle, a trampoline, swingset, pool, and even a bicycle.  Insurance helps to protect you from the risks associated with injuries and damages when using these items.

The first step is to review the types of insurance available for your summer recreation toys.  Consider physical damage for your property as well as liability insurance.  Many policies include property damage to others and coverage that reimburses you or a guest for hospital or doctor bills.

traditional-poolFor property damage, estimate the value of each item and how much you would lose without insurance.  For items like an RV or a boat, this can be a considerable loss.  You can choose a high liability limit and add an umbrella policy to your coverage. For liability, you can add extra coverage to your homeowner’s policy or include summer items on an umbrella policy to extend your liability coverage.  Each carrier is different with what summer toys can be included, so be sure to check to make sure each addition is allowed.

trampolineFor items that carry significant risks, like trampolines, check with your carrier to make sure this coverage is allowed or included on your homeowner’s policy.  Some carriers prefer not to absorb the risks associated with trampolines and may cancel or decline to renew your policy if they learn you have one on your property.

Insurance helps to protect you in the event of an accident, but your first line of protection is to always take safety precautions when operating your summer toys.  Taking measures to preventing accidents helps keep your premiums low by minimizing the number of claims you need to make.  Insurance protects your purchase, yourself and your guests as well.

Please contact our office to further discuss your insurance needs.  Have a wonderful and safe summer and enjoy those toys!

 

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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

ShareTheRoad_LogoIn recognition of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Bieritz Insurance Agency would like to reach out to all of our Otsego County motorists and motorcyclists alike, encouraging them to “share the road” in order to reduce motorcycle deaths and injuries. Motorcycles are among the smallest and most vulnerable vehicles on the road, putting riders at greater risk of death and serious injury in a crash. In fact, according to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than occupants of cars to die in a crash, and 5 times more likely to be injured.

The latest statistics from NHTSA display this tragedy in stark numbers. Motorcycle deaths have increased every year for 14 of the past 15 years, except in 2009, which saw a decline. In 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists died on America’s roads, accounting for 15 percent of total highway deaths. Motorcycle crash-related injuries also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012.

One way we can decrease the number of fatalities and injuries, and make the roads safer is if we work together, motorists and motorcyclists alike. Adhering to the following rules will improve highway safety for everyone.

Drivers should:

  • Be on the lookout for motorcyclists at all times;
  • Signal all lane changes and turns, and constantly check mirrors and blind spots before proceeding;
  • Be fully focused on the task of driving and being in control of their vehicles at all times; and
  • Never drive impaired by alcohol or drugs.

 

Riders should:

  • Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed;
  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and use reflective tape and gear to be more visible. (NHTSA estimates helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011) and
  • Never ride while impaired or distracted.

Additional information about motorcycle safety can be found at www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles. Please join us in reaching out to other motorists and motorcyclists this month to encourage safe driving every day of the year.

Be safe!

Bieritz Insurance Agency
Cooperstown, NY – 607-547-2951
Morris, NY – 607-263-5170

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