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Review Your Insurance Coverage in 2013

As you sort your financial records and make plans for the coming year, it's a great time to review your insurance coverage as well. We spend so much time, effort and money on our homes, and often consider the level of protection we have on one of our largest investments only after something catastrophic has happened -- when it's too late to make adjustments. And 2012 certainly gave us some things to think about with the earthquake in mid-October and then Hurricane Sandy at the end of the month!

When I was thinking about how hard it must be for those whose homes were lost or damaged, it got me to wondering if my home would be covered in those situations. So I asked Mike Lombard, General Manager of the Bedford office of Baldwin Insurance to share what homeowners can do. Here are his thoughts -- thanks, Mike!

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2012 was certainly a challenging year for natural disasters in the Northeast. Did you feel the 4.0 magnitude earthquake in Hollis, Maine as it rumbled across New England on October 16th? The depth of the quake left many New Englanders shocked at how far it traveled. As it turns out, New England is settled over fault lines and is considered a moderate earthquake risk. And then there was Hurricane Sandy on October 29th. We hope you made it through with minimal wind damage and/or flooding.

While we're engaged in our busy lives, the reality is that natural disasters can strike anywhere and at any time. A disaster can leave your home destroyed and put you in need of temporary housing. And these occurrences are often excluded from standard homeowner's insurance policies. Protecting yourself from the financial consequences of these disasters is very important and can give you an added measure of peace of mind.

For example, earth movement coverage can be added to your policy for as little as $20/year on condo and tenant policies and approximately $200/year on homeowner policies.

Flood coverage is also excluded from homeowner policies. At your request, you can obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. If your home is in a preferred territory, the rate is approximately $417/year for $250,000 in dwelling coverage and $100,000 in contents.

The vital thing is to speak with your insurance agent, honestly assess potential dangers in your area and be clear on what is and isn't covered (i.e. policy exclusions). Again, once an incident has occurred, it's too late to make adjustments. And we would be happy to go over this information with you or provide you with quotes on adding earthquake or water damage coverage.

For more information on disasters, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website [www.fema.org]. Massachusetts also has information on their website [www.mass.gov/mema] regarding earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.   Both websites have information that can help you prepare and plan for a natural disaster.

Wishing you a safe 2013!

Mike Lombard is the General Manager of the Bedford office of Baldwin Insurance www.baldwinweb.com. . You can reach him at 781-275-2114 or mlombard@baldwinweb.com

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