personal insurance 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.

Travel Insurance Harrington Insurance San Jose CA

RE: Plan for a Rainy Day with Travel Insurance

By | Personal Insurance

Sometimes, what you write can turn out to be far more timely than intended or anticipated. Last month, we wrote a blog post about the importance of travel insurance (“Plan for a Rainy Day”), citing recent events such as the fires in Colorado and the effects of Tropical Storm Andrew on the East Coast. Weather is something that can be anticipated, even if the specifics are unknown ahead of time. But some things simply cannot be expected.

This was tragically illustrated on Saturday, when Asian Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco Airport, killing two and injuring 168. It was the first accident at SFO resulting in the deaths of passengers in nearly 60 years. Hundreds of flights were cancelled, and many more around the country were delayed and/or rerouted.

But obviously, the greatest effects are those felt by the family and friends of the passengers on that flight, and our thoughts and best wishes go out to them at this time. We hope that you’ll extend the same to them.

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.

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.

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!

Handling Life Insurance When A Love One Passes Away

By | Life Insurance

When a loved one passes away, there are so many different things that need to be done. Funeral arrangements need to be made, paperwork needs to be completed and affairs need to be put in order. Without knowing your loved one’s wishes, it can be a difficult task to get everything right. And trying to figure them out while grieving at the same time can be very stressful for everyone involved.

While everyone is well enough to discuss it, now is a great time to figure out what your loved ones want for the future- yourself included. Would you prefer to be buried as apposed to being cremated? Maybe you want your ashes sprinkled in your favorite vacation spot or you are planning a green funeral for yourself. Without imparting that information to your loved ones, you could end up having a funeral that you really didn’t want.

Also, if you have any life insurance, living will or any other types of paperwork your family will need to know about tell them about it now. It will make it much easier on them if they do not have to look for it when they are going through the grieving process after losing you.

Of course, we highly recommend having a good life insurance policy. It can help your family financially through the transition period after you pass away. It can give them a bit of leniency when it comes to paying bills and getting everything in order. Even if you already have a life insurance policy, it might be time to review the coverage you currently have. You may have gotten your policy back before you had children or got your new higher paying job. It is worth checking it over to make sure your family will be covered adequately.

Motorcycle Insurance Checklist for Spring

By | Personal Insurance

Spring is in the air…Do you have your motorcycle covered with insurance?

Spring is almost here in California. It’s the best time to dust off the ol’ motorcycle and give it a tune up. Before you ride off into the sunset, you should also refresh yourself on California’s motorcycle laws. You may already know them like the back of your hand, but in case you aren’t 100% clear on them here is a quick recap.

Checklist of California’s Motorcycle Laws

  • Your motorcycle’s handlebars must not be any more than six inches above your shoulder height when you are seated with your hands on the grips.
  • You are required to have a muffler.
  • You are not required to wear eye protection, but it is highly recommended.
  • You must have at least one rearview mirror on the left or right side.
  • There is a Lemon Law in CA for motorcycles, so if your motorcycle does not end up meeting all the state requirements, you can return it for a refund.
  • You do need to have turn signals.
  • If you plan on having a passenger, you need to have a seat and footrests ready for them. There is no age restriction for passengers.
  • You may split lanes (pass a vehicle within the same lane) but it is not a recommended practice. It can be very dangerous for both you and the other vehicle.
  • Your bike will have to pass periodic random safety inspections.
  • You may be eligible for a state funded rider education course. If you are under 21 years of age, you are required to take a rider education course.
  • You are required to wear a helmet at all times.
  • You must have liability insurance for your motorcycle. The minimum is $15,000 bodily injury per person/ $30,000 bodily injury per accident/ $5,000 personal property liability.

Give us a call with any of your motorcycle insurance needs.