FAQs

You have questions. We have answers.

Here are some the insurance, benefit and financial questions we get asked the most – and the answers! If you have one you don’t see here, please contact us.

General

Can I pay with a credit card?
Only a few insurance companies currently accept credit card payments. Some accept credit card payments online, but there are some who will only take credit card information over the phone. You can find a full list of payment options by going to the payment section of our website.
How can I lower my bill?
While your Agent has no control over the premiums set by the companies, we can work with you to identify if any of these options make sense for you: 1) Higher deductibles mean lower premiums. While that means you would be responsible for more of the cost of a loss, it would decrease your premium and allow you to save money for those unforeseen circumstances. 2) Make sure you are taking advantage of all the discounts available on your policy by talking with your Account Manager about what may be available to you. 3) If you are a business paying over $5,000 for Workers Compensation insurance, you should make sure your Experience Modification Factor is correct. We can analyze that for you to determine if there has been an error in the calculation done by the Workers Compensation Bureau. 4) You should manage your risk to prevent losses whenever possible.
If my policy is cancelled, when does it become effective?
A policy cancellation is effective at 12:01 am the morning of the date of cancellation. The insurance company must receive payment no later than the day before the effective date of cancelation in order to avoid a lapse in coverage.
Am I covered when I rent a car?
This is a question for which there is not a straight forward answer because there are many variables to consider. Some of the points to consider are: Does your personal auto policy follow you? Should you buy the collision damage waiver? Does your credit card provide coverage? For a comprehensive discussion, we suggest you contact your Account Manager who will assist you in ensuring that you have the proper coverage while enjoying your trip.

Homeowners

Flood insurance program changes have made my rates go up. How can I lower my flood insurance risk?

For home owners and business owners:

  • You may need an Elevation Certificate to determine your correct rate.
  • Higher deductibles might lower your premium.
  • Consider incorporating flood mitigation into your remodeling or rebuilding.
  • Building or rebuilding higher will lower your risk and could reduce your premium.
  • Consider adding vents to your foundation or use breakaway walls.
  • Talk with local officials about community-wide mitigation steps.
  • Talk with your legislators about the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act and other legislation that could help to mitigate the impact the new Program has or may have on your flood insurance rates.
My son is heading off to college. Is his personal property covered under my homeowners policy?
Most policies will cover personal property for up to 10% of the contents limit while your child resides at school. Not all types of damage are covered, so read your policy carefully. Things like expensive jewelry and electronics require special coverage, and general damage to a dorm room or apartment is not usually covered. Renters insurance is strongly encouraged.
I run a home-based business – what kind of insurance do I need?
Smart question! A recent survey revealed 60% of home-based businesses do not have business insurance coverage, putting you at risk for financial loss from theft, accidental damage, natural disasters, vehicle accidents and liability if an employee suffers an injury on the job or a client/customer is hurt while visiting. Homeowners does not usually cover these, nor does it include business interruption coverage. You may be able to add these coverages as endorsements – contact us to see how. Also consider protecting yourself with life insurance, health insurance, disability protection and workers’ compensation insurance.

Life

What are the benefits of a juvenile whole life policy?

There are many:

  • The growth of cash values can help cover future expenses, such as a college education
  • Coverage purchase now can protect against future uninsurability
  • Life policies are very affordable at young ages
  • A juvenile whole life policy can help set children on the right path to greater financial security.

Our Financial Services & Benefits Department would be happy to help you weigh the pros and cons.

 

Auto

If I rent my car out for hire when I’m not using it, will my personal auto policy cover any accidents?
No. Rental for hire is viewed as a business venture. If you’re considering ridesharing, contact our office to make sure you’re covered under a business policy. And note, some insurance companies are specifically excluding coverage while your auto is used in a personal vehicle sharing program.
Am I covered by my company’s auto insurance policy while driving a company vehicle for personal use?
The short answer is yes, but it depends on how the policy is written. There may be times when there might not be coverage. If you are not sure if you are covered
for the personal or business use of your car, be sure to give our office a call.
Is my daughter at college covered under my auto policy?
It depends on the situation. If the car stays home and she will only be driving it while at home on break, keep her listed on your policy. If she’s taking the car to school, notify us. Note, a full-time student meeting certain academic requirements may qualify for a good student discount. Be sure to ask us!
I got a ticket for an expired inspection sticker on my car. Will I get an insurance surcharge?
Yes. An expired sticker is the ONLY non-moving violation to which a surcharge applies. Procrastination on the renewal of your sticker could be very expensive – check it now.
I’m thinking about buying a used car- what does “salvage title” mean?
It means that the car was, at one point in its history, classified as a total loss due to flood, hail, or accident damage, vandalism or theft recovery. After Hurricane Sandy, large numbers of damaged vehicles were issued salvaged titles then transported out of state and retitled. It is possible that these water damaged vehicles may end up for sale several states away from where the damage and original titling occurred. This damage is often not visible and may impact not only vehicle performance, but overall safety as well. If you’re considering buying it, order a car history report and have a certified mechanic inspect it.

Business

I’m hearing a lot about cyber liability insurance. Why do I need it?
Just one stolen laptop, one resourceful hacker, one virus or even one lost paper record
can create enormous financial and reputational consequences. Here are the top 5 reasons your business may need it.
  1. Data breaches and cyber attacks increased 42% in the last year alone.
  2. It’s not just the big guys getting hacked – 40% of all breaches have occurred in organizations of 1000 or fewer employees and 31% in organizations of fewer than 100 employees.
  3. All industries are vulnerable to a data breach or cyber attack.
  4. The average cost of a data breach has risen to $5.4 million and includes costs related to business disruption, revenue loss, equipment damages, legal fees, public relations expenses and forensic analysis, as well as notification costs that are legally mandated.
  5. Costs associated with a data breach average $188 per compromised record.

The good news – cyber liability has gotten more affordable, and we can help you figure it out.

I know my employees are stressed with financial worries and retirement concerns due to the recession. What can I do to help?
You’ve taken the first step by asking! And you’re right, financial worries are a leading cause of stress and decreased productivity. Think about a Financial Wellness program that offers personal consultations from a financial advisor at no cost. Key components include education planning, extended care planning, retirement planning, investments, identity fraud expense reimbursement, and worksite voluntary benefits. If you’d like more details, contact the advisors in our Financial Services & Benefits Department.
HR issues and employee lawsuits are on the rise and the costs of defending them are enormous. What can I do to protect myself?
Even if you have good human resources policies and procedures in place, you can still be sued by employees, former employees, or even applicants. Typical suits include claims based on wrongful termination, national origin or age discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of employment agreement, violation of the FMLA…the list goes on. Employment Practices Liability insurance can provide legal defense as well as coverage for awards in a case that has been lost. Some insurance companies provide a call-in help line for general questions about workplace concerns as well as checklists to help evaluate current approaches to employment issues. If you are a Sylvia Group Employee Benefits clients, you have access to ThinkHR at no cost. It offers a wealth of information and live experts to answer your HR questions – contact our Employee Benefits team to find out how. Or for more information on Employment Practices Liability insurance, call our Commercial Lines Department.

Testimonials

  • “When I needed assistance with my business insurance program, Jill White immediately responded – and, even more important, she listened. She understood the challenges I had with my former agent, and she and the Sylvia Group team designed a program specific to my restaurant’s needs. I’m confident that with Jill’s expertise and personal attention, Fay’s is in good hands. That gives me the peace of mind to focus on what my family and I do best: serve delicious food and provide great customer service while running a successful business.”

    – Evelyn Bettencourt, Owner, Fay's Restaurant and Knotty Pine Fine New England Catering

  • “Thanks to John Beauregard and the professionals at Sylvia Group, our MassMEDIC membership has paid immediate dividends. Through the BIO Business Solutions® program, Primo Medical received a significant premium reduction on our Professional Liability policy. In addition, utilizing Chubb as our insurance provider and Sylvia Group as our broker, we’re confident that we have business partners who truly understand our insurance needs, provide outstanding loss control services and continue to work with us to lower our total cost of risk.”

    – Christopher LaPlante, Chief Financial Officer, Primo Medical Group

  • “I love your staff. Since we moved over to Sylvia Group for our insurance what is it, maybe three or four weeks? I have had more communication and attention from them than I had for the what, seven or eight years? with my former agency! You have a great team.”

    – Pat Cassan, Ocean Explorium

  • “You have to have somebody like Judy Besse working with you. She’s very detail-oriented and patient. I’d be lost in a quagmire of laws, rules, regulations… I want somebody on my team as I have with Judy.”

    - Paula Gendreau, Business Manager, Greater New Bedford Regional Voc-Tech High School

  • “I want to thank you for this incredible resource (ThinkHR). We will be accessing it frequently and appreciate Sylvia Group making this available to Advanced Eye Centers.”

    Paul C. Abrantes, Executive Director, Advanced Eye Centers

  • “I so appreciate Julie Jennings' help with Medicare planning. It is a relief to be able to consult with a knowledgeable professional on insurance issues. I have no idea how people do this without such help.”

    – Chris Black, Personal Insurance client

  • "Working with Judy Besse can be pretty interesting because she sets the bar so high. And because she’s putting the customer first, she’s willing to put choices on the table that a lot of brokers just aren’t going to consider because they don’t want to take the haircut."

    – Ed Belt, CEO, Primarily Care, Inc.

  • “Working with Sylvia Group over recent years has taken our insurance issues from 'groans and moans' to 'no problem.' Rose Lopes, our Account Manager, is one of the most responsive people I have ever worked with. She responds immediately to questions or special requests. It is such a pleasure to work with Rose, who does whatever it takes to find a solution to our needs. We are very pleased… She always has our interests in mind.”

    – Lynne Foley, Director of Human Resources, Five Star Companies, Inc.

  • “Judy Besse and Sylvia Group do a wonderful job. Judy’s skills, knowledge of the (benefits) industry and manner of presenting complicated things in an easy-to-understand fashion are unparalleled.”

    - Tom Riley, M.P.A., Executive Director, Better Community Living

  • “We wanted to enhance our employee benefits offering, but we didn’t have the time or expertise to explore the myriad of options. Judy Besse consulted with us and provided detailed information that made a complex choice easy, enabling us to maximize our ROI. And she managed the entire process right through to implementation – including employee communication, enrollment and carrier accountability.”

    – Tom Donaruma, Director of HR, Brahmin Leather Works

  • "Sylvia Group is by far the best insurance agency I have ever dealt with, both personally and in my business. They provide customer support that is not found in other agencies. For example, they take a personal interest in their clients, calls are always taken or returned immediately, and during reviews suggestions are made to offer the most cost effective and comprehensive coverage. When claims occur, they have always been there to facilitate the process. It has truly been a pleasure to have them represent me in my insurance needs."

    - William N. Whelan, Chairman, Whelan Associates LLC

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