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At Mason & Mason Insurance we are committed to serving our clients with a level of personal contact and professional accountability that is increasingly rare in an age of faceless financial services firms. Whether we’re working with a builder to minimize risk or supporting a homeowner through a challenging claim, we know our success is based on investing in our clients.

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Con-DO or Con-DON’T – Condo Insurance ...

There are some advantages to condominium living. One, people feel, is that the association handles insurance so they skip the hassle of having to arrange their own coverage.  While that’s true to some degree, as with most things in life, it’s more complicated than it appears. There are traps for the unwary. To know what the association is going to take care of you need a copy of the by-laws and the master deed. These documents should be made available to your insurance advisors in order that they may design your coverage to coordinate with the “master policy”.

Questions to ask yourself when determining what kind of coverage you need:

  • Will the master policy cover the parts of the unit that you own? – Many associations are obligated to purchase property insurance that covers all building elements including those owned by an individual.  Others are not and the master policy covers only commonly owned elements of buildings.  The master deed identifies commonly owned elements and delineates the boundaries of individually owned units.  The by-laws indicate the association’s obligation.
  • What deductible has been chosen for the master policy? – If damage occurs in your unit only there is little doubt you will be responsible for the deductible even if the master policy provides coverage.  Many associations choose higher deductibles than an individual would be comfortable with in order to keep condo fees low.
  • Who will provide coverage if you improve your unit by adding higher end cabinetry, counter tops or other enhancements? – The master deed and by-laws will answer this question.
  • What is your exposure for assessments due to uncovered or inadequately covered damage to common elements or high deductibles?
  • Is your investment protected in the event of a total loss? – Again, look to the master deed and by-laws as well as the limit available under the master policy.
  • What will you need to adequately cover your personal property and your personal liability exposures? – Of course, the association will not provide any protection in these areas.  They are usually handled with a Condominium Unit Owners Policy.
  • Is the master policy written on a specialized condominium form? – Forms and endorsements have been developed for condominiums that recognize the special relationship of unit owners and the association in relation to the insurer.  These forms are important in reducing the exposures of individual unit owners.

Don’t assume. Whatever you do, don’t assume that your condo association has you covered. Do some research, get answers and get peace of mind.


Who’s Your Star?

Small and medium-sized businesses often have employees that are “stars.” Sometimes the star is the CEO or president, other times there is a salesperson who consistently outsells every other sales team member by a two to one margin. Maybe you’re a software company that has a star coder whose ideas led to your product being a number one editor’s choice. The point is that most companies have an employee or two that helps their business thrive. What happens to your business in the short-term if a star employee, referred to by the insurance industry as a “key man,” dies?

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), only 22% of small businesses carry this type of coverage.

Death is an issue that most people do not like discussing, so many small and medium-sized businesses do not have detailed succession plans, and key person life insurance remains an unresolved issue. It is a discussion that helps your company survive the difficult times that can follow the death of a key person.

What is Key Person Life Insurance?

Key man life insurance protects a business from economic loss relating to the death of a key employee. The company buys the insurance, owns the policy, and is the beneficiary of the policy in the event of the sudden death of the insured. Payment from the insurance company to the business is a lump sum, and there are no restrictions on how the company can use the money. Most companies use the money to stabilize the business until they find the key person’s replacement.

Types of Key man Life Insurance

Businesses gravitate to two kinds of policies for key employee life insurance.

Term Life Insurance. Startups favor this type of policy. Startups always try to conserve cash, term life insurance is cheaper than any other kind of personal life insurance.

Policies that build cash value. Whole life or universal life insurance builds cash value that increases the cash value of the policy and is an asset on the company’s book. The company can get access to the excess cash value of the policy at any time for any purpose since the money from the cash buildup belongs to them.

Life insurance premiums vary between companies and smart companies comparison shop for the best insurance program.

The discussion is uncomfortable, but if you do not have key man insurance, it’s worth talking about.


Fireplace Maintenance

Your fireplace looks beautiful and adds warmth to your home. It can also be a fire hazard, though. Protect your home and family as you enjoy the beautiful ambiance when you follow a fireplace maintenance schedule and implement safety tips this winter.

Check the Chimney

An essential part of your fireplace, the chimney needs a thorough inspection once a year. Hire a professional to look for cracks and other damage and to clean out combustible buildup like creosote. Then, secure a spark-arrestor screen to the chimney as you prevent dangerous sparks from escaping and damaging animals from entering.

Start the Fire Safely

Before you light a relaxing fire, open the flue. Start the fire with only approved materials like newspaper and dry logs. Once you have the fire going, don’t use it to burn holiday gift wrapping or grill food.

Maintain the Screen or Door

Every fireplace needs a safety screen or glass door. It prevents sparks from flying into your home and discourages your children or pets from reaching into the fireplace. Ensure the screen is constantly in place and free from any damage as you reduce accidental burns and other injuries.

Remove Combustibles

Flammable rugs, draperies, paper and other combustibles should be located at least three feet away from the fireplace. Otherwise, these combustible materials could cause a fire.

Use the Right Tools

Metal tools safely adjust logs and remove ash. Store them near the fireplace (but out of your children’s reach!)

Provide Proper Supervision

Always supervise your fire. If left unattended, sparks could start a fire in your home or your children or pets could walk into the bright but hot embers.

Remove Ash and Coal Properly

A one-inch layer of ash in the firebox insulates the fire. To remove excess ash or coals, wait until they’re completely cool. Use an ash vacuum or metal shovel, and place the materials in a secure metal container outdoors.

You’ll safely enjoy your fireplace all season when you use proper fireplace maintenance procedures. For more fireplace safety tips, visit This Old House online. Keeping your home in top condition can actually help reduce your insurance premiums. Give us a call today to update your home insurance policy and provide a layer of protection for your family and house.