What you should know before flying a drone in Southie!

With the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve falling on the same night, it’s very likely that we will all be awoken on the morning of December 26th by the sounds of many, many drones buzzing through the skies of Southie and all around Boston.

Google Trends lists drones in the top four items when people type in “I want to buy,” and according to The Motley Fool, consumer drone purchases during the course of the 2015 holiday season alone totaled 1 million drones. So it’s not much of a leap for us smart folks at Lighthouse to predict that this holiday season, drone purchases are really going to take off.

You too may be hoping to unwrap a drone this holiday season or maybe considering it as a gift for someone. However, bringing a new toy drone into your Southie home, apartment or condo, is kind of like getting a new puppy at the holidays. Initially, it’s just all squeals of joy, snapchats of the cute things your new pup can do, and laughing off the new holes in your socks. But quickly the honeymoon phase is over, and the realization sinks in that this new pet comes with a great deal of responsibility.  

Believe it or not your new toy drone is no different and there are some important things that Lighthouse Insurance would like to share with you about what it means to be a drone owner.

But first, why are we so invested in educating you about drones? It’s because this “toy” may actually have a critical affect on all our insured’s privacy and safety. Thus, we have made it our business to find out everything we can about being a safe drone owner and operator in Southie. Now, we are pleased to deliver this information to you, our neighbors.

The Facts About Owning And Operating A Drone In South Boston And Beyond

Why is this cool dream toy of yours starting to sound so serious? Let’s start with some information about drones that many new, and some longtime drone owners, may not fully understand:

  • The FAA does not differentiate between the drone you just bought as a gift and a commercial drone or one that is used for official purposes
  • Under the law your drone is actually an aircraft that you must register with the FAA to receive an operator’s license
  • When you fly your drone anywhere in our nation’s airspace, you automatically become part of the U.S. aviation system and you accept the same responsibility of operating your drone safely

These are, in themselves, some very sobering rules and regulations from the FAA. But you’re probably still feeling pretty confident you’re prepared for your new role as a drone pilot. Well, hold on a minute. Lighthouse wants to share another FAA regulation that is critical for all drone owners to understand but also very relevant to those of us living in Southie or around Boston.

No drone may fly within 5 miles of Logan Airport without notifying the airport operator and air traffic control tower. 

Yes, that’s a whole lot to think about before sending your toy drone out for a friendly fly around Castle Island. But it is critical for you to understand that you must stay away from restricted airspace, like flight paths at airports.

How do you stay on top of flight restrictions? The free FAA smartphone app, B4UFLY, can help you determine if you are operating near a restricted zone. It features a clear “status” indicator of your location, airspace restrictions, a planner mode for other areas, maps and much more.

There are just a few more general rules and regulations from the FAA that must be followed including that drone operators:

  • must be 17-years old
  • cannot fly over individuals who are not involved in flying the drone
  • must fly below 400 feet
  • must always maintain line of site with your drone

We apologize if you’re feeling suddenly dizzy from all of these laws and restrictions, and thinking what a scrooge Lighthouse is concerning drones. This is not to deter you from going out and getting the drone you’ve had on your wish list all year; rather, we are just trying to make sure that you don’t get in trouble over a toy.

More On Consumer Drone Laws 

Let’s go back to the new puppy example for a moment because we know that makes you smile. If you are a responsible, law-abiding pet owner, which we know you are, you will register your dog with the city of Boston, you will always keep your dog on a leash, you will make sure your dog is not a menace by making sure it doesn’t chase cars, the mailman or your neighbor, and, perhaps most important to the rest of us in Southie, you will clean up after your dog!

What happens if you don’t abide by these good owner principles? Well, in some cases, like not having a registration or walking off-leash, you may just be sited for unlawful behavior. But in other cases, like if said dog actually runs after someone, you are exposing yourself to much more significant risks and possible financial consequences.

Once again, your new status as toy drone pilot is strangely similar to that of being a new pet owner, because the number one action you should take is to register it with the FAA. If your drone weighs between 0.55 and 55 pounds and you have any plans to fly this device outdoors for hobby or recreation, this is an FAA requirement.

Many gift recipients will not realize this (just like many new pet owners have no idea what they are getting themselves into), so if you are giving a loved one the gift of a drone this year, Lighthouse Insurance recommends that you also provide the recipient clear direction on their responsibility to register and how to do this.

Here are a few tips on owning a drone that you may want to include with your gift:

  • Registration can be completed online here
  • Registration costs only $5 and is valid for three years
  • After you register, you will receive a certificate and an FAA registration number that must be marked on your drone
  • Always have your certificate with you when you fly your drone; print a hard copy or make it easy to pull up on your smartphone if needed

And while failing to register your dog or pick up their poop comes with somewhat inconsequential consequences, drone owners who fail to register their device can get slammed with one or more of the following:

  • a civil penalty of up to $27,500
  • a criminal fine of up to $250,000
  • imprisonment for up to three years.

Lighthouse Insurance strongly recommends you provide all of this important information along with your gift of a drone to ensure that the recipient can avoid crossing paths with the FAA.

How To Fly Your Drone Safely in Southie

You’re probably thinking, “Hey, if my neighbor John can fly his drone from the deck of his apartment, why can’t I? What could possibly go wrong?”

Well, because we are experienced insurance professionals, we are unfortunately aware of quite a few things.

For example, here are three headlines related to consumer drone flights gone awry:

  • Drone Crash! Breaks through window and hits guy in the head.  YouTube
  • Drone Crashes, Hits 2 People During Marblehead Parade.  CBSBoston.com
  • Kentucky man shoots down drone spying on 16-year-old daughter.  The Daily Dot

A drone can invade people’s privacy and cause serious bodily injury or property damage.

Whether your drone is 5lbs or 55lbs, imagine it losing battery charge at 400 feet and dropping straight down on your neighbor’s car, or worse, your neighbor. It’s going to feel like a brick when it hits and likely cause extensive damage or injury.

Your drone is also not immune to a cyber attack and today’s smart hackers can easily take control of your new toy for the purposes of stealing it or to simply cause some chaos in your neighborhood.

How can you make sure that all of your drone flights are smooth sailing? Once again we direct you to the FAA…you’re starting to sense a theme here, right? The FAA has created a very useful safety checklist that will help you fly safe, smart, and still have fun, whether you are a newly minted drone pilot or have been flying as a hobby for years. Lighthouse suggests you carefully go through this pre-flight checklist every time you plan to put your drone into the clear blue sky. Also, remember to regularly check for any updated safety guidelines on faa.gov/uas.

In addition, you may have noticed “No Drone Zone” signs cropping up around Southie – ironically, there’s one at that gorgeous new dog park at East First Street (Between M and O). Apparently, the buzzing sound of a drone doesn’t just drive moms crazy; dogs get very riled up as well and will chase a drone all day until they can catch it and destroy it.

But, despite the increasing no fly zones, there are still lots of great spaces in and around Boston that are easily accessible, a safe distance from airports, and as beautiful of a landscape as the dog park, including Magazine Beach, Fresh Pond, and John F. Kennedy Park at Harvard. No matter where you choose to fly your drone, always review local and state park ordinances and regulations before departure.

South Boston Drone Operators May Require Enhanced Insurance Coverage

Your insurance agent is an important person to contact at many stages of your life, like when you’re buying a home, expanding your family, or adding another driver. You can now add one more special event to that list …. when you buy a drone.

Sure, a toy drone isn’t really a momentous occasion compared to these other life events. However, remember that you are now much more than the owner of a drone; you have in your control a toy that is actually considered a plane by the FAA.

There’s no question drones are an exciting technology that can certainly enhance our lives in many ways, including providing your family with a fun hobby. However, the team at Lighthouse Insurance also wants to make sure you are aware of the risks and liability related to drone ownership and operation.

If you think a drone may be a brand new addition to your household this holiday season or in the future, then please call your Lighthouse agent. We will review your current policies to ensure that you have sufficient personal injury coverage under your home, condo or renters insurance policy or umbrella coverage to protect you should you have an unfortunate drone-related accident or claim against you. Contact us today or come see us at our very convenient West Broadway office.

Condo Insurance and Boston — 5 Things You Should Know

So, you’re thinking of buying a condo in South Boston. Congratulations! We know what a big step this is, and all the stress you’re dealing with. As condo prices in Boston continue to climb, and in an expensive ‘hood like Southie, jumping into the real estate market can be a daunting task. But your friends at Lighthouse Insurance are here to help!

Once you’ve made the financial commitment to buy property, you definitely want to make sure you have the right insurance to protect it. And in many cases, a standard condo insurance policy will not be enough to protect a luxury condo in Boston.

Here are 5 quick tips to think about when shopping around for your condo insurance policy.

1) Remember, your condo association will have a master condo insurance plan, but this plan will not cover your personal belongings. Condo owners should purchase their own condo insurance policy to protect their units and belongings.

2) Make sure your policy provides special limits of liability for any items you own that may require additional coverage. Think jewelry, silverware, furs, firearms, or even money and passports that you keep at home. You may want to consider adding a jewelry and fine arts rider to adequately protect these valuable items above and beyond the condo insurance policy limits.

3) There are many additional coverages you should consider when selecting your condo insurance policy. Things like debris removal, fire department service charges, and even lock replacement coverage can all be covered with the right plan.

4) Did you know that your condo insurance policy can also provide personal data replacement coverage and identity fraud expense coverage, along with complimentary theft management services? Ask your independent agent about how to get these coverages today!

5) Don’t forget to check on your personal liability coverage when assessing different condo insurance policies. This coverage provides protection in case someone is injured on your property or if you damage someone else’s property.

Here at Lighthouse, we know the Boston Condo Market like the backs of our hands. Get in touch today at 617-464-3777 or visit our website for more advice on how to protect your big investments!


Get Renters Insurance and Be Safe Southie

Don’t Be Like All Uncool; Get Renters Insurance and Be Cool.

Living in South Boston, or Southie to you and me, used to be the best-kept secret in Boston. Now that the secret is out, it’s not quite the same old Southie. “Apartments” for rent are now everything from renovated warehouses, churches or new construction tucked away between West Broadway and Congress Street.

Yet with all of the changes, in many ways it is the same Southie we’ve always known; a place many of us still call home, our real home. This is the place where we went to kindergarten, celebrated birthdays, learned how to ride a bike, had our first kiss, got married and had babies.

As your local insurance agent, Lighthouse Insurance has celebrated many of life’s milestones with you; from passing your driver’s license test, to buying your starter home, or, as exciting, renting your first apartment.

Like any good Southie neighbor, we are happy to share our wisdom with newcomers to our town whenever it’s needed. So if you’re just joining our community for the first time, welcome to the neighborhood. Or, if you’re a young Southie native venturing out on your own for the first time, don’t worry we have your back too.

No matter what your situation is, we want to make sure you protect yourself and the place you call home. This means having “the talk,” but this one’s about something not so sexy. However, it is very important. We want to discuss the value of having renters insurance. Was that just a big sigh of boredom from everyone? Okay, now that you have that out of your system, get ready to learn why renters insurance is actually much cooler than you think.

Why do I need renters insurance?

Great question and we are glad you’re paying attention! Of course the Bostonian in us wants to just say, “because we told you so,” but as your local insurance professionals we would be doing you a disservice so we are going to tell you why. Here are the three main reasons getting renters insurance is a smart move:

  • It covers all the personal property you own
  • It gives you a level of liability protection
  • It provides you with additional living expenses

So what does all this mean? Let’s look at each coverage separately. No this is not a waste of time; trust us, we will make this really interesting!

Coverage for your personal property.

Basically coverage for personal property means all the stuff you’ve worked so hard to buy, like your TV, computers, furniture, Xbox, headphones, street/mountain bike, snowboard, fancy handbags, shoes, and other belongings. These are all protected if stolen or damaged due to fire, smoke, vandalism or some other unexpected calamity. You may need a little extra protection for collectibles or jewelry, but that is an easy thing to add on for very short money.

Liability coverage.

Most people think this is something they don’t need, but we’re here to make sure you aren’t one of them. Instead, we are going to tell you why liability coverage is such an important coverage and why we think it’s the coolest part of your renters insurance policy.

Liability coverage protects you financially, no matter how much money you earn or the size of your bank account. When someone sues you they are not checking your bank balance for adequate funds; instead they are going after compensation that they believe to be fair for injury or damages caused by you, whether intentional or not. And no matter how much money you have, or don’t have, one thing’s for sure; you are going to have to find a means to pay for any judgments against you.

Liability coverage can save you from having to borrow money, look for a second job, or cut back on your expenses to pay the legal bills. Specifically, here are some examples of what kind of lawsuits this coverage can safeguard you from:

  • bodily injury you or your family members cause to others
  • property damage that you or your family members cause to others
  • damage your pet(s) cause

Liability protection in a renters insurance policy will also provide you with no-fault medical coverage which means that you can submit medical bills directly to your insurance carrier should someone get injured in your home. Liability coverage will also pay for the cost of defending you in court and for any money awarded to the complainants, up to the limit of the policy.

Yup, we just blew your mind didn’t we? That’s a lot of coverage but we haven’t even gotten to the best benefits of renters insurance yet.

Additional Living Expenses.

Now that you know you have your stuff and your money protected, what happens if you are displaced from your apartment due to circumstances outside of your control? Need an example? Unfortunately, home fires are more common in the city then you think. This past summer there were actually two serious blazes that prompted us to write a blog post about fire prevention for Southie residents, who as you know, live precariously close to their neighbors. But fire is just one reason you may be displaced from your apartment. There are other scenarios that are just as unsettling to think about. Consider what you would do if your upstairs neighbor’s commode burst and water flooded down into your apartment while you were both out of town for the weekend. That would literally stink!

If these or any other type of catastrophe wrecks your apartment, do you have a back-up plan? Well, if you have an extremely cool renters insurance policy, then you can be certain you will not have to go back to mom and dad’s or crash on a friend’s couch. A good renters insurance policy provides additional living expense coverage that could pay for hotel bills or temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other expenses you incur while your apartment is being repaired or rebuilt.

Okay, let’s get real, how much does renters insurance cost?

This is really the most awesome part of all! Renters insurance is cheap; hugely important, but, yes, cheap. For as little as $12 bucks a month you can get all the coverage we outlined here. As we like to say, it’s less than a skinny margarita or a craft beer at the trendy bar on the corner. So eliminate one of those beverages a month and you have your renters insurance covered. And if you own a car, you can save even more by combining your auto and renters insurance with the same carrier, in some cases as much as 20% on your auto insurance. Like a wise old Southie neighbor might say, “You can’t afford not to get this kind of protection.”

How many people are covered under one renters insurance policy?

We hear you, you have roommates to consider as well. It’s cool of you, and considerate, to wonder whether your renters insurance policy covers your roommate and their stuff as well? The answer is both yes and no. A single renters insurance policy covers two people, you and your significant other or one of your roommates at no additional cost. However if you live with more than one person, then someone will need to get a second renters insurance policy.

Also, we are going to give you some more neighborly advice about sharing a renters insurance policy; please make sure you trust that person. This might sound obvious; after all you’re living with this person so they must have earned your trust. But we mean really, really make sure you know your roommate or the person you live with. Because when you have to make a claim, any check you receive from your insurance carrier will be made out to all the parties on the policy. This means that even if the check is to cover damages or losses to only your belongings, your roommate will still have to co-sign the check. So choose your policy buddy carefully!

In the event that it’s your roommate that causes damage to your belongings, it’s important to know that these losses will not be covered if you are both on one policy. We can’t stress this point enough; be 100% certain that the person you decide to add to your renters insurance policy is someone you know well and can trust completely.

The big finish

In closing, we want to share one last piece of advice, to #BeSafeSouthie. Protect yourself whether walking home from the local watering hole late at night, driving to work in the morning, or cooking a meal for a group of friends in your cool new apartment. Accidents happen, and if they happen to you, your friends at Lighthouse Insurance want you to have the protection you need. If we’ve left you with more questions than answers, feel free to call us at 617-464-3777. Or, if you have a strong desire to see the faces of the people who wrote this insightful, and admit it, cool blog post, you can typically find us between the hours of 4:30 – 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday at our neighborhood hangout STATS. Where yes, everyone knows our name.

Roommates and Renters Insurance — What You Should Know

Did you know that buying renters insurance is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make sure the belongings in your apartment are protected? Renters insurance ensures that your stuff is covered in case of a fire, theft, or even if your crazy ex decides to get revenge with a baseball bat to your car. It even provides protection from lawsuits resulting from bodily injury or property damage you inadvertently cause. Plus, any time you are displaced from your home due to a loss, like a fire, your renters insurance policy can also help cover expenses like hotel bills, home rentals, or even restaurant bills during the period of time when your apartment is out of commission or while you find a new place, if it comes to that.

Before you run out to buy renters insurance, which we know you’re about to do, here are a few things to know, especially when it comes to getting a policy when you have roommates.

  • A single renters insurance policy can cover a maximum of 2 people. If you have more than 1 roommate, they will need to purchase their own policies.
  • Adding a roommate onto your policy will not change your premium, meaning sharing a policy with your roommate can be very cost effective.
  • Even if your roommate is not on the lease for your apartment, they can still be added onto your renters insurance policy.
  • When you make a claim, any check you receive from your insurance company will be made out to all parties on the policy. This means that even if the check is to cover damages or losses to only your belongings, your roommate will still have to co-sign the check. So choose your policy buddy carefully!
  • In the event that your roommate damages your belongings, these losses will not be covered if they are on your policy. Again, make sure you can trust your roommate before adding them onto your renters insurance policy!

Sounds good right? Call Lighthouse today at 617-464-3777 or visit our website to learn more about renters insurance along with all of the possible discounts you could qualify for.

5 Reasons Why Renters Insurance Is Important

We get it; renting an apartment can be expensive, especially in Boston. With median rent prices over $2000, Boston has one of the most expensive rental markets in the country. And that’s not even factoring in expenses like gas, electricity, cable and internet … or all of those parking tickets! But there’s one expense that renters should not pass up, and that’s renters insurance — especially considering that you could cover the cost of this critical protection by simply skipping a few trips to Starbucks every month.

According to a recent study, nearly 70% of millennials (who make up the majority of renters nationwide) don’t have renters insurance. Over 40% of young people interviewed in the study reported that they opted out of this type of coverage simply because they did not understand how renters insurance worked, which is something Lighthouse wants to change! We’ve put together 5 important reasons why you need renters insurance to help you understand what renters insurance covers and to help you make the right decision when it comes to protecting your possessions.

1. Your home may be protected, but your possessions are not.

Many renters assume that their homes are covered by their landlord’s insurance, which is only partly true. While your landlord’s insurance will cover damages occurring to the physical structure of your home, it will not cover damage done to your possessions or pay for your living expenses while your home is being repaired. Here’s an example: a pipe bursts during the winter and floods your apartment. Your furniture and an expensive rug are ruined beyond repair. Your landlord may only need to cover the losses for the structural damage; any of your personal items that were damaged will be your responsibility to replace or repair. This is one of many reasons why renters should protect themselves by purchasing renters insurance.

2. Renters insurance provides coverage for your personal possessions.

The Personal Property Coverage under your renters insurance policy is critical because, as the name explains, it provides coverage for your personal possessions. Depending on the policy you choose, you can receive up to 100% replacement cost protection for your belongings in the case of fire, smoke damage, vandalism, theft, and some damages due to a storm or natural disaster excluding floods or earthquakes. Renters insurance may even cover lost or stolen items from your gym locker, or if your bike gets stolen while you’re at a bar. And, when you make it home from vacation in one piece, but your luggage does not, yup you are most likely covered for that as well. We recommend taking an inventory of your belongings before purchasing a renters insurance policy to make sure you have enough coverage. Organize your inventory into categories or go room-by-room to make sure you account for everything; and don’t forget about more expensive items like your laptop or jewelry!

3. It protects against certain types of lawsuits.

The Liability Coverage of your renters insurance policy provides protection in case of a lawsuits resulting from bodily injury or property damage caused by you, a family member, or even your pet. This means that if any visitor is injured in your home, the cost of their care and legal proceedings may be covered up to your policy’s liability limits. A personal umbrella policy is always a good idea for an extra layer of coverage, however that is a different blog post. Another common situation that is covered under your liability protection would be if you, a family member, or a pet damaged someone else’s property (say your dog chewed up a friend’s expensive coffee table…).

4. It covers additional living expenses in the case of emergency.

If you are displaced from your apartment due to losses from fire, vandalism, a natural disaster or water damage (as specified by your renters insurance policy), Additional Living Expenses Coverage will help curb some of your expenses. Hotel bills, home rentals, and even restaurant bills can be covered during the period of time when your home is being rebuilt.

5. Renters insurance can help cover your roommate too.

A renters insurance policy can cover up to two unrelated people under a singly policy, which means you can add your roommate to your policy for no extra charge. If, however, you have more than 2 people living in your apartment, your other roommates would need to purchase their own policies. Keep in mind that your renters insurance will not cover theft or intentional damage done to your property by a roommate, regardless of whether or not they are covered under your policy. You should also know that if you ever file a claim, you will receive a check made out to all parties covered under the renters insurance policy. This means you will need your roommate to co-sign the check, even if it is to cover the cost of your belongings only.

 Here are a few more things to keep in mind when deciding on your renters insurance policy. Some landlords will actually require tenants to have insurance while occupying their property. If this is the case, make sure to fully understand what their property insurance does cover before deciding on a renters insurance policy. And never underestimate the benefits of working with an independent agent! Especially in more complex living situations, your insurance agent will be able to answer all of your questions and come up with a policy that fits your unique needs. Some carriers will offer discounts for their renters insurance clients as well. For example, at Lighthouse Insurance, we have relationships with carriers who provide discounts to clients who bundle their auto and renters insurance policies with one carrier. In some cases, for as little as $3 per week, you can protect yourself and your stuff.

Accidents happen, no matter how careful you are. But by having a renters insurance policy, you will also have peace of mind in knowing that the belongings you’ve worked so hard for are protected.

At Lighthouse, we know renters insurance inside and out. We represent many different insurance carriers, which allows our dedicated team to create a renters insurance policy that works specifically for you. Our expertise lies in providing guidance and comparing prices in order to give you the best option on your renters insurance. Give us a call today at (617) 464-3777 or visit our website to learn more about how to get rental insurance!