Frequently Asked Questions

Homeowners Insurance FAQ's

What does "HO" stand for?
Different types of homeowners policy forms are referred to as HO-1, HO-2, HO-3, and so forth. There are seven basic kinds of home insurance policies and they tend to be defined by the perils they cover:
  • HO-1. Basic homeowners. Covers your dwelling and personal property against losses from 11 types of perils: fire or lightning; windstorm or hail; explosion; riot or civil commotion; aircraft; vehicles; smoke; vandalism or malicious mischief; theft; damage by glass or safety glazing material that is part of a building; and volcanic eruption.
  • HO-2. Basic homeowners plus. Covers dwelling and personal property against 11 perils plus six more: falling objects; weight of ice, snow or sleet; three categories of water-related damage from home utilities or appliances; and electrical surge damage.
  • HO-3. Extended or special homeowners. Covers 17 stated perils plus any other peril not specified in your policy, except for flood, earthquake, war, and nuclear accident.
  • HO-4. Renters coverage. Covers only personal property from 17 listed perils.
  • HO-5. All risk coverage for building and personal property. This policy form isn't sold very often.
  • HO-6. Condominium coverage. Covers personal property from 17 listed perils along with certain building items in which the unit owner might have an insurance interest.
  • HO-8. Basic older home. Covers dwelling and personal property from 11 perils. Differs from HO-1 in that it covers repairs or actual cash values - not rebuilding costs. This is for homes where some historic or architectural aspects make the home's replacement cost significantly higher than its market value.

What is Homeowners Insurance?
Homeowners insurance protects you if your home is damaged or destroyed. In addition, it covers your family's possessions and can provide you with compensation for liability claims, medical expenses, and other amounts that result from property damage and personal injury suffered to others. By paying insurance premiums, and satisfying the other requirements of your insurance company, you can protect yourself in the event of loss due to unforeseen and/or catastrophic events. You still won't be able to predict when an unforeseen event may occur, but you will sleep better knowing that homeowners insurance can save you from catastrophic loss and financial disaster.

Why do you need Homeowners Insurance?
You may need homeowner's insurance because your mortgage lender requires it. But, even if you own your home outright, you still need homeowners insurance to protect that which you can't afford to lose. You may spend years building up a solid financial foundation for you and your family. All that hard work can be lost in a matter of minutes when, for example, a hurricane devastates your house, a burglar robs and vandalizes your home while you're gone, your dog bites and severely injures a child, or guest in your home is hospitalized after falling on your pool deck. Homeowner's insurance is designed to help prevent that result. (Renters and owners of condominiums and cooperatives can get coverage using variations of the same basic insurance tailored to their needs).

Will filing one claim on my homeowners insurance cause my rates to go up?
No. In most cases, once an insurer reviews your loss history and finds none, one claim should not affect your rates. If the claim exposes some greater risk on your property, however, such as owning a trampoline or new swimming pool, then you may face a rate increase or the insurance company, in accordance with the state law and at its discretion, they might issue a cancellation.

Do I need to buy flood insurance?
If you want your belongings covered against damages caused by a flood, the answer is yes. Basic homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage from flooding. Because flood damage happens so infrequently, most insurance companies don't write flood coverage.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) underwrites the overwhelming majority of flood policies in the United States.

I have a dog that bit someone once. Will that affect my chances of getting homeowners insurance?
While having a dog with a history of biting doesn't automatically disqualify you from getting a homeowners policy, it can make it a little more difficult. You might end up having to get a policy that excludes coverage for anything your dog does. You can read more about the subject in Good dog, bad dog: Home insurance for dog lovers.

If a tree falls on my house from my neighbor's yard, who pays for the damage?
Generally the insurance responsibility lies with whoever's property is damaged. In other words, if a tree falls on your home, no matter where the tree came from, your insurance company should pay for your home repair. An exception would be if the damage occurred as a result of negligence; for instance, if the tree was dead before it fell, and you had proof that your neighbor knew the tree was dead. Under those circumstances, the damage becomes your neighbor's liability. As a rule, state insurance officials suggest that you file a claim with your insurance company and let them deal with it.

We're going to be building a house. How do I insure it while it's under construction?
Basically, you need a builders risk policy to cover the building during construction along with a separate general liability policy to cover you as the homeowner against any negligence.

I own a home that no one is currently living in. Will it be difficult to insure?
It certainly could be. There are several factors that will influence whether or not you can get insurance for your vacant home. Is the house currently for sale? How long do you plan to leave it vacant? Does someone check on it regularly? Is the house secluded from view? Definitely you should consider getting a policy that is specially customized for vacant homes.

I can't find homeowners insurance. I've checked with many insurers but no one will sell me a policy. What can I do?
Many states have an "insurer of last resort," usually called a FAIR Plan. FAIR Plans were created to give those who couldn't get insurance from the private market a chance to purchase homeowners insurance. Your Northeastern Group representative will be able to help you determine if you are eligible for coverage by your state's FAIR Plan or if there are other options you can explore.

Auto Insurance FAQ's

Do I need to purchase insurance before I buy a new car?
If this is your first car, yes, you'll have to buy auto insurance before you drive your shiny new car off the dealer's lot. If you are financing the purchase, the lender will require that you buy a policy with comprehensive and collision coverages. Not all states require the purchase of liability coverage, however, but your Northeastern Group representative can give you all that information.

If you have owned a vehicle and already have an auto insurance policy, that will generally cover your new automobile for a period of up to 30 days after you buy it. Once that 30-day period is up, you'll have to talk with your Northeastern Group representative to insure that new vehicle.

What should I do if I just had an auto accident?
You should inform your insurance company right away. Make sure you've gotten a copy of the police report and the other party's insurance information. Remember, just because you inform your insurer of an accident doesn't mean you're making a claim.

I've just been in an accident. How will the insurer issue the check to repair my car?
It depends on whether or not you're in a first-party or third-party claim situation. In a first-party situation, when the claim is being paid by your insurer, the check will most likely be made out to you and the body shop. In a third-party situation, when the claim is being paid by the other driver's insurer, it's likely that the check will be made payable to you alone.

What can I do to protect myself against uninsured drivers?
Purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage can protect you against uninsured drivers. In many states, UM coverage is required by law. UM coverage will pay for medical bills and pain and suffering if you are hit by an uninsured driver. If your car is crunched by an uninsured driver and you have UM property-damage coverage, you'll be able to get your car fixed under this coverage, rather than using your collision coverage. Generally speaking, UM property-damage coverage carries a lower deductible than collision coverage.

Which coverages pay for damages to my vehicle?
Depending on what kind of damage your car suffers, one of your physical damage coverages - comprehensive or collision insurance - will pay for the damages. If your car is hit by a deer or other animal, stolen, catches on fire, or is vandalized, your comprehensive coverage will kick in. If you crash into something and crunch your car, your collision coverage will kick in. Both of these coverages are optional and, of course, adding them to your policy will raise your insurance premium.

How do you reduce the cost of collision coverage?
You can do one of two things: raise your deductible or drop your coverage. The deductible is what you pay out of your own pocket before your insurance policy kicks in. The higher the deductible, the lower your premium. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 on collision coverage could reduce your premium by as much as 30 percent.

Collision coverage is generally not worth purchasing on older vehicles with high mileage because if you ever file a claim for significant damages, your insurance company will likely declare your vehicle a total loss rather than fix it. That's because the cost of fixing your vehicle far exceeds its market value. The value you get for the vehicle in the total loss may not justify the premiums you pay for the collision coverage.

Can I demand original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts in the repair of my vehicle?
Yes, you can always request original equipment manufacturer parts after you've had an accident.

Should I expect my premium to rise if I reported an accident to my insurance company in which I was not found at fault?
It is unlikely you would see a premium increase solely because you were in an accident in which another person was at fault. However, you may receive a premium increase if that accident was one of several you have had throughout the year or in recent years.

I just got a speeding ticket. How much will it affect my auto insurance premium?
If it was your first ticket, you might not see any change in your rates. We cannot tell you whether your auto insurance premium will increase, or by how much. Insurers are not allowed to raise your rates after just one speeding ticket or other citation.

Even if you have received speeding tickets in the past, different companies have different practices when it comes to raising premiums. A Lighthouse representative will review all of your options with you once you have selected a carrier.

Health Insurance FAQ's

What is the best health plan for me?
Choosing between health plans is not easy. Although there is no one "best" plan, there are some plans that will be better than others for you and your family's health needs. Although no plan will pay for all the costs associated with your medical care, some plans will cover more than others. With any health plan you will pay a basic premium, usually monthly, to buy the health insurance coverage. In addition, there are often other payments you must make. These payments will vary by plan but essentially are deductibles and copayments.

If I have questions while completing an application, how can I reach you?
A Northeastern Group Insurance representative is just a phone call away. Call us directly at (516) 505-7700.

What types of health plans are available to me?
Indemnity (fee-for-service) or managed care. Indemnity and managed care plans differ in their basic approach. The major differences concern choice of providers, out-of-pocket costs for covered services, and how bills are paid. Usually, indemnity plans offer more choice of doctors (including specialists, such as cardiologists and surgeons), hospitals, and other health care providers than managed care plans. Indemnity plans pay their share of the costs of a service only after they receive a bill. Managed care plans have agreements with certain doctors, hospitals, and health care providers to give a range of services to plan members at reduced cost. In general, you will have less paperwork and lower out-of-pocket costs if you select a managed care-type plan and a broader choice of health care providers if you select an indemnity-type plan. Besides indemnity plans, there are three basic types of managed care plans: PPOs, HMOs, and POS plans.

What is a PPO?
A PPO is a Preferred Provider Organization. You would use the doctors and hospitals within the PPO network or go outside of the network for care. You do not need a referral to see a specialist. If you join a PPO, you should find you have more flexibility than with an HMO, but your total out of pocket costs are likely to be somewhat higher.

What is an HMO?
An HMO is a Health Maintenance Organization. As a member of an HMO, you select a primary care physician from a list of doctors in that HMO's network. Your primary care physician will be the first medical provider you call or see for a medical condition. He or she will make any needed referrals to a medical specialist. Typically, these specialists will be part of the HMO network. If you join an HMO, you should find that you have few out-of-pocket expenses for medical care -- as long as you use doctors or hospitals that are part of the HMO.

What is an MSA?
An MSA is a Medical Savings Account. It is a tax-advantaged personal savings account used in conjunction with a high deductible health policy. Individuals can contribute money to this account on a pre-tax basis to set aside money for qualified medical care and expenses, including annual deductibles and copayments.

What is a POS?
POS is a Point-of-Service Plan A type of managed care plan combining features of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs). You can decide whether to go to a network provider and pay a flat dollar or to an out-of-network provider and pay a deductible and/or a coinsurance charge.

What is an Indemnity Plan?
An indemnity plan is commonly known as a fee for service or traditional plan. If you select an Indemnity plan you have the freedom to visit any medical provider. You do not need referrals or authorizations; however, some plans may require you to pre-certify for certain procedures. Most indemnity plans require you to pay a deductible. After you have paid your deductible, indemnity policies typically pay a percentage of "usual and customary" charges for covered services; often the insurance company pays 80% and you pay 20%. Most plans have an annual out of pocket maximum and once you've reached this they will pay 100% of all "usual and customary" charges for covered services. Many health insurance companies have moved away from indemnity plans and are instead offering managed care plans such as HMOs and PPOs. You may have few or no indemnity plan choices in your area.

What is a provider?
A provider is a hospital, health care facility, physician or other medical professional that provides health care services.

What is a Primary Care Physician (PCP)?
A physician or other medical professional who serves as a group member's first contact with a plan's health care system. Also known as a primary care provider, personal care physician, or personal care provider

What is an office visit copayment?
An office visit copayment is a fixed dollar amount or a percentage that you pay for each doctor visit. For example, with some plans you may pay a fixed amount such as $5 or $10 per visit. Other plans will charge you a percentage of the total fee for the visit. So if your copayment is 10% and the doctor visit was $200, you would pay 10% which, in this case, would be $20.

What is a deductible?
A deductible is the amount of annual medical expenses that a health plan member must pay before the plan will begin to cover expenses. For example, if your plan has a $500 deductible, you will pay the first $500 of your medical expenses before your health plan begins paying the expenses. Only expenses for covered services apply towards the deductible. For example, if you paid $100 for a visit to a chiropractor but the plan does not consider chiropractic care a covered expense, then the $100 will not apply toward your annual deductible.

What is the difference between an in-network and an out-of-network medical provider?
An in-network medical provider is within the approved network of providers for a particular health plan. Out-of-network providers are not on the list. If you visit a doctor within the network, the amount you will be responsible for paying will be less than if you go to an out-of-network doctor. In many cases, the insurance company will not pay anything for services your receive from outside their network; however, there are exception to this. As a general rule, HMOs tend to have smaller provider networks than PPOs. In HMO and PPO plans, referrals to specialists will be to doctors within the network. Indemnity plans typically do not have networks; you go to whatever doctor you want.

What are my options for making my first payment?
The payment must be made out in the name of the insurance company by check or credit card - neither of which will be processed until you have been approved. If you are not approved for coverage by the insurance company, your money will be refunded. Any financial information submitted over the web is kept private and secure. Once accepted as a plan member, all bills will be sent from the health insurance company and you will pay them via the choices offered by that company.

Can I buy health insurance for less if I buy directly from the insurance company?
No. Insurance companies charge the same premium whether the plan is purchased directly from the company, through a broker, or online.

What do you mean by best price?
Because we work directly with 25 of the industry's most prominent insurance companies, we can tailor a policy that fits all of your needs and find you the lowest price available anywhere. Remember, the price we quote is the price you pay.

I lost my job - and my health insurance - when my employer went bankrupt. Can I get COBRA?
When your employer went out of business, the group health insurance pool to which you belonged also ended. You're not eligible for COBRA coverage because there is no longer a group under which you could continue your group health insurance benefits. Likewise, if you had already left your employer, enrolled in COBRA, and then your employer went bankrupt, your COBRA coverage would end. Check with your Lighthouse representative to find out if you are entitled to continued health care benefits under the New York State COBRA plan.

Keep in mind, too, that you must have been covered under an employer's health plan to be eligible for COBRA. If your employer doesn't offer health insurance, has less than 20 employees, or offers health insurance to only certain groups of employees (and you're not one of them), you won't qualify for COBRA benefits.

So what's the catch with COBRA?
You will be responsible for paying the full monthly premiums that your employer previously paid, plus a slight administrative fee of up to 2 percent. For a single person, premiums could easily top $200 a month, and $600 or so for a family. While those payments might come as a shock to your wallet, the alternative is trying to find an individual health plan until - or if - you can get into another group plan. An individual plan (which, despite its name, can cover a family) is going to be more expensive than COBRA for the same benefits. And if you or your dependents have any sort of illness, it's highly likely the insurance company

What are my options for buying health insurance for myself or my family?
If you do not currently have health insurance through your employer as part of a "group health insurance" plan, Lighthouse offers health plans to people who are self-employed to be a "group of one," and will offer you group coverage. Our plans also have "open enrollment" periods, which is an annual window for individuals to join.

Can my employer require that I join the company's health plan as a condition of my employment?
Consider buying a supplemental Medicare policy, known as Medigap. There are 10 standard Medigap policies available in the United States, lettered "A" through "J", with "A" having the fewest benefits and costing the least, and "J" having the most benefits and costing the most.

I have Medicare, but it doesn't cover all of my health insurance needs, such as prescription medications. What can I do?
When your employer went out of business, the group health insurance pool to which you belonged also ended. You're not eligible for COBRA coverage because there is no longer a group under which you could continue your group health insurance benefits. Likewise, if you had already left your employer, enrolled in COBRA, and then your employer went bankrupt, your COBRA coverage would end. Check with your Lighthouse representative to find out if you are entitled to continued health care benefits under the New York State COBRA plan.

Keep in mind, too, that you must have been covered under an employer's health plan to be eligible for COBRA. If your employer doesn't offer health insurance, has less than 20 employees, or offers health insurance to only certain groups of employees (and you're not one of them), you won't qualify for COBRA benefits.

How do you know which plan is primary and which is secondary?
The health insurance industry uses an informal practice called the "birthday rule." Under the birthday rule, the health plan of the parent whose birthday comes first in the calendar year is designated as the primary plan

How can we provide health insurance for our kids when we just can't afford to pay the premiums?
Your kids might be eligible for health insurance through a joint federal-state program called the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is designed to provide coverage for children whose parents, for whatever reason, can't afford health insurance but make too much money to qualify for existing welfare programs.

I have Medicare, so I don't need long term care insurance, right?
Unfortunately, Medicare doesn't adequately cover the expenses of long term care. Instead, it's recommended that you get a combination of Medicare, Medigap, and long term care insurance to secure your financial future. You have to be careful when choosing a long term care policy in order avoid the common pitfalls. Call a Northeastern Group representative to answer any questions, (516) 505-7700.

Business Insurance FAQ's

Can I speak with someone "live" during this process? How do I contact you? Do you have a toll-free number?
You can either contact us at (516) 505-7700 between the hours of 8:30AM - 5pm Monday - Friday or 9am - 3pm Saturday EST.

Explain the difference between a premium indication and a premium quotation?
A Premium Indication is an estimate of the cost, terms, and conditions of coverage subject to review of additional information that insurance company underwriters require; a Premium Quotation is an exact price at which the policy with agreed terms and conditions can be put into effect and for which you will receive evidence of insurance.

What insurance companies do you use?
As one of Long Island's premiere brokers, we place policies with most of the highly rated insurance companies.

How do I request certificates of insurance for landlords, lenders, or others, and make billing inquiries?
You can send a request via our website, by e-mail, or fax, or you can call our office to speak to one of our representatives. We strive to build personal relationships with our customers.

What are my options for premium payments?
Prior to putting coverage into effect, we will require a down payment of typically 20-25% of the annual premium. We accept checks, money orders and will have an online credit card option available soon. The balance of the premium typically is paid via a premium finance agreement with 9 monthly installments.

How do I report a claim?
You can visit our service center on our website, where you can find the insurance company's claim department information or claims can be called in to 516-505-7700 during normal business hours only.


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