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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.

5 Things to Know Before Becoming A Rideshare Driver

Rideshare services have quickly become one of the most popular components of the modern gig economy. With so many services available, it’s never been easier to join the Transportation Network Company (TNC) industry. Whether driving has become your full time job or is just a side gig you do in your free time, there are a few things any rideshare driver should know.

Understand how each rideshare company is different

Each rideshare company will have different rules and regulations for things like number of years of driving experience or record requirements. For example, to become a Lyft driver in Massachusetts, you must be at least 21 years old and have had your license for at least a year. For Uber, however, if you are under the age of 23, you must have at least 3 years of driving experience. Vehicle requirements can also differ, even within a company. Uber, for instance, has different vehicle requirements for their different services such as UberX or UberSUV.

Know the specific regulations for your city

Each city or state will have its own regulations for how rideshare companies can operate as well as where they can pick up fares. Background check requirements will also differ from state to state as well as specific driving restrictions. In Boston, for example, rideshare services are not allowed to pick up riders at Logan Airport, however they are allowed to drop passengers off there.

It is possible to drive for multiple companies

Many rideshare drivers in Massachusetts choose to work for multiple services. This way, if rides are slow on one app, there is a backup way of finding a fare. If this is your plan, make sure that you understand and meet driver and vehicle requirements for both services.

Filing and Paying Taxes

New drivers should remember that they are required to pay taxes on their rideshare income, even if it is only a side job. Make sure to track your miles and expenses such as gas, insurance, taxes, car repairs and depreciation to get the appropriate tax deductions. Driver should also know that the standard write-off for business use of a car is 56 cents per mile.

Vehicle Registration and Insurance

Once you begin working for a rideshare service, your personal auto policy will not cover you when you are driving for fares. Rideshare drivers should register or rewrite existing personal auto policies as commercial auto policies. In fact, in Massachusetts, on page 2 of the general information portion of the personal car insurance application, drivers are specifically asked whether they are collecting fares for driving. Saying “no” to this question as a rideshare driver is actually a federal offense.

Although some services like Uber offer insurance, drivers should know that this insurance is not regulated and that the amount of coverage is dependent on several factors, including but not limited to: the phase of a trip you’re in (ie just on the app, accepted a trip, picked up a passenger, or ending a trip) or the type of accident you get in. You wouldn’t want to find yourself facing a million dollar lawsuit with only the insurance provided by your rideshare company. We can’t stress enough how necessary a commercial auto policy is for rideshare drivers.

The best way to make sure you’re covered? Get your commercial auto policy from an agent who understands how TNC insurance works.

Driving for a rideshare service can be a great way to make extra income, especially if you have a car and the time to do it. As with any job though, it’s important to do your research before starting. Follow these tips and guidelines to ensure that you are making the most out of your driving time.

Need more help or advice about starting work for a rideshare service? Lighthouse Insurance is an expert in transportation insurance with a specific focus on the TNC industry. Our team is very involved in local Massachusetts TNC regulation and are the best option to make sure you, your vehicle, and your passengers are covered at every step. Give us a call today at 617-464-3777 or visit our website to learn more.