insurance policy Archives - Harrington Insurance Agency

Home Insurance and Home Construction

By | General Insurance

Before You Start Construction on Your Home Think About Insurance

When it comes to improving your home, it’s very easy to get excited about the new changes you envision for your home, and get those tools out to start hacking away (or hiring someone to do it for you). But wait, stop! There are several things to consider and plan before you start replacing that boring linoleum floor with exotic panda-safe synthetic bamboo. Like what is your realistic budget? How will you qualify the contractor? Have you considered every possible external cost? What about your home’s value? Building permits? Possible changes to insurance?

Imagine a few possibilities where you might regret not talking to your insurance agent before starting your project: You move your furniture into a storage unit while you do the renovations, only to have the storage unit flood. A friend is helping you out with some roof repair and falls off, vowing to sue you in the process. A contractor tears out your wall, only to discover that you’re not really supposed to remove load-bearing walls. Are you covered for these possibilities?

Aside from covering the unexpected, you’ll need to consider how your renovations will affect your home value. With changing values, you’ll want to make sure your coverage is adequate for then new value of your house.

At Harrington Insurance Agency, we’ve been helping customers navigate the waters of home insurance, and can help you with any scenario that might arise. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to walk you through the steps of ensuring you’re protected before you start your big project!

Auto Accident Insurance Harrington Insurance Agency, San Jose, CA

5 Simple Ways to Prevent an Auto Accident from Harrington Insurance

By | Personal Insurance

Auto Insurance is Handy, but it Can’t Do It All!

Generally, you don’t buy insurance with the hopes that you’ll need to use it. It’s the last line of defense. But what about the first lines of defense—the easiest things you can do to entirely avoid ever having to make a claim? Here are five simple, cheap things you can do to protect yourself and those you’re responsible for…

  • 1.    Make sure that all lighting is adequate and working properly. Don’t let burned out light bulbs collect dust. Get them out of there ASAP. Being able to see what you’re doing is so important it seems almost obvious, but sometimes it’s the most obvious things we forget about.
  • 2.    Clean up spills. Don’t drag a mop bucket over then let it sit there for a few hours. Take care of it now, not later.
  • 3.    Make sure that mats you have laid down are actually helpful in maintaining your footing. If they’re constantly soaking wet, or they lift up from the floor and form ripples and wrinkles, they’re more likely to hinder than help. Replace them as necessary, make sure they lie down properly, and make sure you have the right mat for the job.
  • 4.    Cords. Keep them out of the way. If at all possible, run proper wiring to avoid having cords passing through areas where people walk. Any cords that you absolutely must have out, make sure they’re secured so that they aren’t likely to snag someone’s foot, and make it obvious that they’re there.
  • 5.    If it doesn’t belong on the floor, get it off of there. This is a catch-all, really. Boxes, broken glass, tools… if it isn’t there normally, it probably shouldn’t be there now. If it has to be there, find a way to keep people from strolling through. Rope it off, put signs up, lock the door. Don’t let things lie.
Auto Insurance Rates Harrington Insurance San Jose CA

A Study on Auto Insurance Rates

By | Personal Insurance

Recent Study shows how Auto Insurance Rates have Increased

A couple months ago, the Consumer Federation of America—an association of several hundred non-profit organizations—announced the results of a study on the change in auto insurance rates 1989 and 2010. They found that on average, states experienced a 43% increase in rates. The rate of increase varied between a high of 108.1% in Nebraska and a low of 13.7% in Hawaii.

However, a single, solitary state in the union saw a decrease in the price of auto insurance over the past 20+ years. That state? California.

In 1989, Californians paid $748 per year for auto insurance. As of 2010, they pay $2 less per year, a decrease of 0.3 percent. That might not sound like much, however, that is without adjusting for inflation between then and now. In 2010 dollars, auto insurance premiums averaged $1,405 in 1989, meaning rates have been nearly cut in half over the past 20 years.

That’s just one more thing for fortunate Californians to be thankful for.

Crop Insurance Harrington Insurance Agency, San Jose CA

Always Time to Think About Crop Insurance

By | Business Insurance

It May be Warm, but Now Is The Time To Think About Crop Insurance

In December 1990, California experienced its worst freeze since 1937, enduring two weeks of unusually cold temperatures, including four straight days below freezing in many parts of the state. It destroyed the following year’s citrus harvest, resulting in damages in excess of 1.5 billion dollars (not adjusting for inflation). A less severe freeze in 2007—in Merced Country, temperatures reached 21 degrees two days in a row—caused half a billion dollars in damage to the state’s crops.

This year, a third disaster was narrowly averted during a six day freeze, thanks to preventative measures taken by farmers. The ingenuity of crop growers is not to be underestimated, as shown by their ability to overcome the freeze. But there’s always another freeze around the corner. It isn’t a matter of if, but when the next catastrophe will strike.

Federal crop insurance does provide aid to farmers, but its budget has been cut by 12 billion dollars over the past five years , and proposed amendments to the Farm Bill—which recently failed to pass and is back to square one—would cut benefits further. As it is, most crops are only partially covered, and some are not eligible for federal protection at all.

Obtaining crop insurance through your insurer is one way to cover the ever-expanding gap between losses and what the federal government will cover in the event of the next inevitable freeze.

Baggage Travel Insurance Harrington Insurance San Jose CA

Travel Insurance for Your Baggage

By | Personal Insurance

Can Travel Insurance Cover Baggage and Luggage too?

An 18th Century cello bow worth $20,000. Several custom and vintage Gibson guitars, some worth several thousand dollars. A volume of the Book of the Kells, a 9th century illustrated manuscript. A $30,000 cello. $8,000 in professional camera equipment. A $10,000 insulin pump.

What do they all have in common?

They were all damaged or destroyed on airline flights, by baggage handlers, or TSA agents. In many instances, airlines take little or no responsibility for damage to fragile equipment on airline flights. Even if compensation is obtained, it may be only a small percentage of the value of the item, or in the form of flight vouchers. This is more than a tiny bit problematic if a destroyed item is necessary for you to do your job, or even necessary in order to live (as in the case of the insulin pump). Even if you are one of the fortunate few to receive full compensation, it may take months. Most cannot afford to cover the necessary costs in order to resume ordinary life while they haggle with the legal system.

What can be done to avoid this? Some travel insurance policies cover the loss or damage of the contents of baggage, though the amount of coverage differs from policy to policy. More specifically, professional musical instruments can be specifically insured against damage or destruction. Similar coverage is available for some medical equipment as well.

And it goes without saying that if you’re packing priceless works of art in your baggage, you really should make a point of contacting your insurance agent…

Travel Insurance Harrington Insurance Agency San Jose, CA

Plan for a Rainy Day with Travel Insurance

By | Personal Insurance

Plan for the Unknown with Travel Insurance

A question that vacationers often hesitate to ask themselves—possibly for fear of jinxing travel plans—is, “What could possibly go wrong?” In the last week, weather in the United States and Europe has provided several possible answers to that question.

When Tropical Storm Andrea climbed up the East Coast last week, it caused more than a dozen instances of flooding, storm surges and/or heavy rain in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. It also spawned 10 tornadoes in Florida alone.

This week, Colorado has been experiencing its most destructive forest fire in state history, with more than 360 homes—and counting—being reported destroyed near Colorado Springs.

And in Europe, several countries including Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic have been experiencing severe flooding, with some areas of Germany seeing their highest flood water levels in five hundred years.

Weather like this can shut down or divert flights, destroy hotels, hostels, and summer homes, or cause serious injury—and most health insurance policies do not cover treatment outside the United States. There are a huge variety of insurance policies available to cover costs incurred from these sorts of circumstances, some with more flexibility than others. Some allow travelers to cancel trips of their own accord due to ‘cold feet,’ without flights or accommodations being canceled due to severe weather, while others require actual cancellations before costs can be recovered.

Looking at just flight costs alone, round-trip tickets within the United States have been above $600 a ticket this summer, with flights to Europe costing double or triple that, there is reason to budget for insuring against the worst.

Safety Tips For Memorial Day Weekend from Harrington Insurance

By | General Insurance

Memorial Day weekend is just ahead and for many it may mean taking to the highway for a quick vacation, breaking out the grill for some outdoor cooking, or taking that first dip in the pool. The American Red Cross offers some safety tips to help everyone have a great weekend.

The Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and we it’s important to enjoy it safely. There are steps people can take to help stay safe while they have fun over the holiday weekend.


With many people traveling over the holiday weekend, it’s more important than ever to drive safely. People should be well rested and alert, use their seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. If anyone plans on drinking alcohol, they should designate a driver who won’t be drinking.  Remember, if alcohol is part of your holiday, make sure driving a vehicle or a vessel is not.

Other tips for a safe trip include:

  • Drivers should give full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Leave ample room when behind other vehicles.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Make frequent stops when traveling long distances.
  • Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows, especially at night.
  • Turn the vehicle’s headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.
  • Use high beams on rural roads unless approaching or following a vehicle.


The onset of grilling season often results in injuries and fires due to careless cooking practices.

The Red Cross offers steps people can follow to help stay safe while enjoying those tasty cookout treats:

  • Never grill indoors.
  • Always supervise a grill when in use, and make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.
  • Be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if necessary.
  • Keep a fireproof pan under the grill to catch any falling ash or grease.


Learning to swim is one of the best steps someone can take to be comfortable and safe around water. People can contact their local aquatic facilities to get information about Red Cross swimming classes. Home Pool Essentials (homepoolessentials.org) is an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners.

Other safety tips include:

  • Swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Prevent unsupervised access to the water. Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub.
  • Maintain constant supervision. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children even when lifeguards are present.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. If a child is missing, check the water first. Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Have appropriate rescue equipment, a phone, life jackets and a first aid kit near the pool.

For full information on how to be prepared and to help stay safe this summer, visit redcross.org.

Source: The American Red Cross via: www.redcross.org

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Fire Homeowner's Insurance Harrington Insurance Agency, San Jose CA

Are You Prepared for Wildfire Season with the Proper Insurance?

By | Personal Insurance

Insurance for Wildfires, Are You Covered?

Summer is just around the corner!  As we look forward to the warmer days and plentiful sunshine, we are faced with the unfortunate reality of what can accompany this wonderful change in weather – wildfires.  Fire officials have predicted a particularly difficult wildfire season in California following the dry winter experienced throughout much of the West.  Federal budget cuts have made this even more challenging by reducing the amount of firefighters on the ground, and reducing the amount of resources those firefighters can use on strategies designed to reduce future fire potential.  Luckily, if it’s predictable, it’s preventable!  Below is a list of steps you can take right now to protect your family, home, and belongings.

Steps to protect your family, home and belongings

  • Regularly clear roof and gutters of leaves and other debris.  This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Mow and water your lawn regularly.
  • Clear leaves and all flammable vegetation from under your deck and within 30 feet of the house.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Prune trees so the lowest branches are 15 feet from the ground, and remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home.
  • Screen areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris from accumulating.  Also, screen openings to floors, the roof, and the attic.
  • Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher and show them where it’s kept in your home.
  • Review your homeowner’s insurance policy and make a list of your home’s contents.

As a general rule, if it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck, or porch.  For more information and tips on fire safety and prevention, visit www.firewise.org, or contact your local fire department.

Don’t wait for damage to be done before protecting your home and belongings.  If you don’t already have homeowner’s insurance, let us help you find a policy that meets your needs.  Call us today at (408) 264-2400, visit our Facebook page, or email us at  info@harringtoninsurance.com.

Deciding How Much Business Insurance Is Needed

By | Business Insurance

What is the Proper Amount of Business Insurance?

The desire to minimize the costs of insurance premiums is perfectly understandable. Your business might be having a rough year, or perhaps you’re trying to pay for a major expansion. It makes sense. What you don’t realize is that you’re potentially leaving yourself on the hook for thousands of dollars in out of pocket losses. The reason why is something called a co-insurance clause.

Say you cover your building and the equipment it contains for a total insured value of $700,000. But you’ve purchased a great deal of expensive equipment over the years, or the building has been improved, so its current value is actually higher. One day, a fire breaks out, and damages are estimated to be $500,000.

This is when the co-insurance clause comes into play. Commercial insurance policies typically mandate that a business must be insured for a given percentage of the current total monetary value. This figure is usually between 80 or 90 percent, but can be as high as 100%. The business in the above example is insured for $700,000, but after the fire is assessed to have been worth $1,000,000. In this case, the policy mandated at least 80% coverage of the total value of the company, but it was only insured for 70% of the current value. This is in violation of the co-insurance clause, and so the policy owner will only receive 70% of their insurance claim—in this case, $500,000 x 70%, or $350,000.

If the policy owner had covered the business for $800,000, then they would meet the 80% coverage requirement of the policy, and thus would receive 100% (not 80%) of their claim, or $500,000.

Hopefully, this example illustrates how important it is to maintain proper coverage of your business, and how devastating failing to do so can be to your livelihood. Scrimping on your insurance coverage to save money is a hazardous cost-reduction measure. Have a discussion with your insurance agent, and assure that your business is adequately covered.

Tenant Landlord Insurance Harrington Insurance San Jose CA

Insurance for Tenants and Who Covers What

By | Business Insurance

What Type Of Insurance is Needed as A Tenant?

The relationship between tenant and landlord can be, at times, difficult to understand, and the murky circumstances of insuring a tenant’s improvements on a leased business property is a prime example of this. A lessor may choose to keep things simple by dictating that they will insure the structure and property, while the lessee insures the removable property that they store and install within the business—but it’s the improvements that cannot be removed—wiring, cabinetry, plumbing—that can potentially cause a headache.

Who is Responsible for What?

If the respective party’s responsibilities are not carefully delineated in the rental agreement, and catastrophic damage to the property occurs, it can be difficult after the fact to assess who is responsible for replacing what. While the landlord may have insured the basic structure, all the improvements within it may not be covered under the landlord’s policy. Additionally, disagreements about whether the lessee or lessor owned the improvements within the building only further confound the issue. In the meantime, without the contents of the business that were destroyed, it may be difficult or impossible for the business owner to secure the funds necessary to restore the interior to the condition necessary for the business to operate.

Read Your State Laws

A great deal of case law has been devoted to this issue, as many disasters similar to the one described above have occurred. The currently established legal precedents vary widely from state to state, and so it is impossible to give a generalized answer as to who is responsible for what. The simplest resolution is simply this: Within the rental contract, the responsibilities of the two parties should be outlined explicitly. It should be indicated what improvements are owned by each party, and what obligations each party has in maintaining insurance policies on the property and its contents. A lessor may specify that they will insure the structural shell, while the lessee is responsible for everything therein, or the lessee may be required to only insure removable contents within the structure, with the lessor covering everything else. Or one party or the other may take sole responsibility.

The main issue is that insurance responsibilities should be negotiated and clarified before a catastrophe occurs, rather than having to rely on the ruling of a court after the fact. With over 40 years’ experience in this type of insurance, Harrington Insurance can help you navigate these waters at the best price. Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help!