Clunker Auto Insurance








It is hard to escape the proliferation of ads on the radio and TV of discount insurance and ways to save money on auto insurance. The public is fooled into believing that all auto policies are the same and that somehow one insurance company has the advantage in saving costs. Well, just like there are clunker cars on the road there are clunker insurance programs as well being peddled to the trusting consumer. The fact is that all policies are not the same. The Insurance Services Office in Boston “ISO” has designed the best coverage and most companies subscribe to the ISO format. Some, however, do not follow the ISO guidelines and have introduced hidden exclusions in their policies. Some will deny coverage if you use your car for “deliveries”. Others may exclude coverage for drivers that haven’t been disclosed such as a child just out of college “temporarily” living at home. There are a myriad of situational exclusions that have crept into the non ISO polices that the average consumer will not detect-until it is too late.

So if you are shopping for auto coverage, the first question to ask is: “Is your contract an ISO Contract?” If they can’t give a definitive yes, shift gears and call a trusted independent agent.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.


Messin’ Around in Boats


When it comes to insuring boats, coverage can be tricky and inconsistent. Some insurance companies sell a marine policy for boats which is no more than a glorified auto policy. The rates are great-but the coverage is not. All policies will cover you if the boat sinks, or if you have a fire or collision,  but the more streamlined  policies may not cover  some of the more subtle losses which could turn out to be big claims. I ran across one company that excluded losses resulting from a “latent” (hidden) defect within the boat. The loss involved a gas tank which  severed from metal fatigue-spilling gasoline throughout the bilge. Luckily it was discovered before an explosion or fire occurred. Since the policy excluded damage resulting from the latent defect, The cleanup was not covered and if the boat exploded there would also be no coverage. The better policies would have excluded the defect itself (the gas tank)-but cover the resulting damage. The policy wording can make a big difference in the extent of coverage provided. The moral of this blog is that it is important to buy yacht insurance from a company that specializes in marine coverage and has the depth (no pun intended) of coverage necessary to address losses that are specific to boats. This will make for happy motoring-or sailing.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.

Why Me?


In this new age of multiple access to insurance products it is important to have a unique selling proposition to stand apart from the competition.  If one is going to do business like everyone else, the prospect of success is grim. Why should people buy insurance from me? I came up with a list which I believe distinguishes me from a 1,800 customer rep or someone hiding behind an Internet website.

1. I have a graduate degree in Business (MBA) and an advanced degree in insurance (CPCU).

2. I take the time to educate and advise on insurance matters.

3. We don’t just sell insurance products. We design a needs based insurance program.

4. I help solve problems with claims and other insurance issues.

5. I position myself as a colleague with my clients and help with matters other than insurance.

6. My Firm participates in the community and donates funds for worthy causes.

7. We have a cadre of affiliates in law, accounting, real estate, and mortgage services available for our clients.

It is important to be “a cut above” the competition for both the welfare of those we serve as well as our own success. If one fails to do this, one will fall into that dreaded abyss of mediocrity.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.

Insuring my Muscle Car

muscle car

As we get older we tend to latch on to things that will make us happy and amuse us in our spare time. For many of us it is that special classic or antique car that is rarely used and is taken care of as if it were one’s first born. This includes those beasts of the 1960s such as the GTO or that over horse powered Chevy that gets rubber in all four gears-commonly referred to as “Muscle cars”. Chances are these vehicles are not our every day car and as long as you have a boring “regular car” for your daily use, these special collectibles can probably be insured separately through a specialty insurance carrier. I insure my 1950 Plymouth Woodie with Chubb’s Classic Car program at a fraction of the cost of a regular auto policy. The reason why these policies are so inexpensive is that the  insurance company is convinced that usage will be minimal  and the owner will take special care in maintaining and protecting the vehicle. Most companies that insure older collectibles have restrictions such as adult drivers only and no commuting to work. The vehicles also have to be garaged on a regular basis. An alternative to insuring separately is to place the insurance on the family auto policy and “laying up” the classic car during the winter. The separate policy is better, however, so on that particularly balmy winter afternoon one can rev up the Porsche and feel the wind in one’s hair without calling up your agent to add it back on to the policy.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.

“You Ruined My Piano”


Ah, the Christmas parties will soon be in full swing and the crowds will be in your living room feeling no pain from the wine and spirits that go with celebrating the season. Sure enough there is that particularly clumsy inebriated guest that admires your piano and then proceeds to spill his wine all over the felt hammers and into the guts of the instrument – staining the sounding board and making a general mess. After you ask him to leave and never come back, you ponder over the repair. Most homeowner polices provide coverage for contents but not for something like this since most policies are written on a  “named perils” basis-and there is no peril listed for spilled wine. Named perils would include fire, theft, smoke, vandalism and several other possible calamities but not the actions of your obnoxious guest. You can expand coverage for contents to “all risk” which would cover this incident but there is another problem-the deductible.  If the piano had been “scheduled” on a special valuable items  “floater” all would be forgiven since the restoration would be fully covered – with no deductible. There may be several items of fine art that are vulnerable to off beat losses. I had a client that had a vascular problem and one of his blood vessels ruptured – damaging his oriental rug. Fortunately he survived the incident and also, happily, the rug was scheduled. Certainly items that have restrictive sublimits in a homeowner policy like jewelry, silver, and other singular items should be scheduled. Those that are not subject to a sublimit should also be considered for the reasons discussed in this article. The season will be especially jolly and you won’t have to stand guard over your precious furniture and keepsakes if you have the proper coverage.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.

Getting Mold


Mold has become a discussion most of us would like to avoid since it has” blossomed” into a real menace in the insurance world. Mold by itself is not covered by insurance but when it appears as a result of a claim, there is coverage. Mold often occurs when there is water involved-i.e. putting out a fire, flooding, or proliferation of rain. In the old days it was eliminated through common cleaning methods with relatively little cost. Now, however, mold has been trumped up to be a biological hazard and people exposed to it have claimed to have experienced respiratory problems. Because of this the methodology used to eliminate it has become specialized and expensive. Many companies have curtailed the amount of coverage available when it used to be open ended. In addition the testing procedure is intricate and costly with very little tolerance for acceptable levels. The hysteria regarding mold has abated a bit but it will continue to be a problem for insurance companies and victims alike. Insureds should ask what coverage is provided in their policies for mold and other potential “pollution” possibilities.. Insurance carriers have been quietly withdrawing from the generous levels of coverage provided in the past.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.

Road Trip


Standing at the rental car counter one ponders whether to take that mysterious outrageously expensive insurance package offered by that cute but not very knowledgeable customer service rep. Certainly if you don’t own a car of your own, one should load up on physical damage and liability right there on the spot-because there is nothing to fall back on. If you own a car, your auto policy will most likely provide physical damage (collision and other damage to the vehicle) and excess liability-as if you owned the rental car outright. Coverage would mirror your policy. Some insurance companies are a bit more generous and will agree to cover the rented vehicle for its entirety with no deductible. Rental companies are fussy about who is doing the driving so be sure to include on the agreement any other person that may take the wheel. If you rent a vehicle outside the U.S. or Canada, you are really on your own since your domestic auto policy will not protect you. Because of this it is best to rent from a major rental service where the rental documents are standard. Most personal umbrella policies will provide worldwide excess liability over what is provided by the rental. This is not universal so check with your insurance professional. If possible, have a rental official sign off on the condition of the car when you return it. Even if you have back up coverage for a rental, consider purchasing their insurance with no deductible-especially if the rental is short term. You will be driving a car you are not used to in unfamiliar territory and thus the possibility of a mishap is enhanced. So happy motoring and if you are really confused and apprehensive, take the train.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.


The Name Game


What is the importance of the name on an insurance policy? It turns out there is plenty of importance because the coverage is going to respond to the person or entity listed as the named insured and any others that are included by definition in the contract – and nobody else. For instance, I find that many homeowner policies list just the husband as the named insured. Yes, the spouse and any relatives are included as insureds – but only if they live in the residence premises. What happens if there is a separation and the wife moves out? If she is not listed specifically on the policy, she has no coverage because she is no longer a resident. I am also finding that LLCs are becoming popular as an ownership mechanism for property – presumably to hide the identity of the owner from others who are not exactly friends. Some think that the LLC will provide a shield from liability. Not so fast on that one. There may be protection from creditors but not necessarily for a bodily injury incident. Many landlords think that by being added as an “additional insured” on their tenant’s policy, there is no need to carry insurance for themselves. The additional insured status will provide protection if the landlord is brought in on a suit that is due to the negligence of the tenant. However, if the claim is a result of something the landlord did or didn’t do, there is no coverage and therefore a separate policy for the owner/landlord is necessary. Then there is the unfortunate situation of the life insurance policy where the beneficiary was selected years ago – and not amended. So the proceeds of the policy go to the ex-wife or the long gone partner instead of the intended person or organization. Dale Carnegie said in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. In the insurance world the accuracy of a name is equally as sweet and important.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.




If you want to keep the raindrops from falling on your head you will need an umbrella. If you want to protect against a deluge of financial disaster, you should consider an insurance umbrella. The insurance concept of an  ”umbrella” has been used loosely over the years. Some think it is some kind of comprehensive omnibus insurance document that covers just about everything. In truth, the umbrella is a policy that provides excess liability over other policies. For personal insurance matters, the umbrella gives extra liability over your home, autos, boats, vacation homes, and any other eligible assets. There are also umbrellas for businesses and corporations which tend to be much more expensive since the exposures can be significant. Personal umbrellas come in increments of 1,000,000. If you have a house and 2 cars, you can expect to pay about $300 for a 1,000,000 umbrella. The excess coverage provided by an umbrella will not kick in until the “underlying” (home, auto, etc.) policies pay out to their limit. There is a specified requirement of coverage necessary before the umbrella will respond. For homes and autos that requirement is usually 300,000. The umbrella will start responding once the 300,000 is expended. Umbrellas often provide some extra coverage not usually found in the underlying policies. For instance, most personal umbrellas will provide excess liability if you rent a vehicle overseas. The underlying auto policy does not provide this coverage. Not all umbrellas are the same so it is important to check with your insurance professional as to what is and what is not covered. All your relatives living in the household, whether you like them or not, are insureds and protected under this grand parasol of coverage.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.

“Nanny State”



With so many parents both working these days, there has been a proliferation of mother’s helpers, nannies, and live-ins to help with the kids. If you are at a fancy cocktail party the term, of course, is “au pair” to refer to these employees. Yes, they are employees if they are “regularly” working for you and, as such, are entitled to workers compensation benefits from you, their employer. Unfortunately, the Ct. workers compensation statute doesn’t define the term “regularly”. You don’t have to worry about the occasional baby sitter or the boy that mows the lawn but it is an issue for those who are putting in an average of 26 hours a week. If those in the latter category were to be injured for any reason while on duty, they are entitled to full medical benefits and loss of pay. The homeowner policy will not respond because there is exclusion for those entitled to workers compensation. The solution is to purchase a domestic workers compensation policy, which will provide the benefits mandated by statute. The cost is usually around $1000 a year. The cost for a caregiver nurse is usually higher. If you get the person through a service, the latter may provide a policy for you. The policy will provide benefits for any employee you may have. It does not require names. At the end of the year the insurance carrier will review with you the final tally of salaries paid and may charge an extra premium if it is more than forecasted.

So if you are going to hire that cute girl from Norway, call your agent and discuss the necessity of workers compensation.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.


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