The holiday season is upon us! Cyber Monday kicks off the busy online shopping rush for buyers, online retailers and delivery services. Unfortunately, it is also high season for "porch pirates", unscrupulous individuals who steal packages from homes year round.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales grew nine times faster than in-store sales between 1998 and 2017. So if you plan to take advantage of the convenience and increased selection offered by online shopping, don't become a victim. Here are some steps you can take to foil the thieves and protect your purchases.
Protect Your Packages
Unattended packages sitting on your front doorstep or left at your mailbox are a huge temptation for porch pirates. And there's not any one profile for who these people are. If you work a regular daytime schedule, you are especially vulnerable. Here's a few steps you can take.
* Have your packages delivered to a secure location. Many retailers let you order on-line and pick-up at their local store. Or you can have your purchases delivered to a UPS Store or Post Office location. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, you may be able to have them delivered to the management office.
* Require a signature. All the major delivery services offer this option.
* Have packages come to your workplace or a stay-at-home friend or relative. This may not always be possible. But it's worth checking out if you work and can't get local store delivery.
* Place a lock box at your doorstep. You can buy boxes or cut resistant bags online that can be bolted to your property or secured with a bicycle cable and combination lock. You may need to alert the delivery service on their app when you order your item that you want them to use the lock box.
* Install a security camera or "smart doorbell". A front door camera alone may not be enough to stop a package thief. However, you will be getting a record of the theft which can help police in catching the thief, and will give you evidence to support your claim. However, many thieves will see the camera or security system sign on your house and simply move on to the next house.
As a side note: you can receive a discount on your homeowners or renters insurance if you install a comprehensive home security system. Please contact us if and when you install one so we can secure your discount.
Work With Your Delivery Company
Sign up for delivery alerts!
When you place your order online, most retailers give you the option to track your package via email or text. Some retailers will send you an email or text when your package is scheduled for delivery and also when it has been delivered.
The major delivery services like UPS, FedEx, USPS all have cell phone apps that let you track your package in real time. Some apps let you schedule your delivery for a time when you will be home, such as evenings or weekends. Even if you can't schedule a time around your schedule, if you know when a package will be delivered, you can make sure someone is home or ask a neighbor to collect the package and hold it for you.
If you have a whole-home security system linked to your cell phone, you can take advantage of the service that lets the delivery service contact you to unlock and re-lock the front door. You watch the delivery person put the package inside on your cell phone. (Amazon offers this service called Amazon Latch.) It's up to you whether you trust your system enough to use it in this way.
To find out more about how the delivery services will work with you, you can visit their web sites for more information. You can start with UPS that has one of the most sophisticated systems to deter porch pirates.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Most delivery services offer the option to purchase additional insurance on your package. Depending on the value of your purchases, you may want to consider this option.
What To Do IF You Are Victim
If despite our best efforts, you are the victim of package thieves, you have a few avenues for resolution. You can start with our office. A package stolen from your premises is covered by your home or renters insurance. However, it is subject to your deductible, so depending on the value, it may not be worthwhile to file a claim.
* Contact the retailer who sold you the item. Many sellers will replace or refund your purchase if you can demonstrate that it was clearly stolen. (Here's where that security camera comes in.)
* File a claim with the delivery service. The major services (UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS) all allow you to submit a claim for lost (or stolen), damaged and delayed packages.
* Call your credit card company. Most credit cards provide some purchase protection. This protects you for items that are damaged, lost or stolen, so long as you purchased the item with the specific card and file within a certain number of days of purchase. However, some high value items aren't covered and some credit card companies require you to file a police report and insurance claim first.
If you have made some major changes recently, like remodeling your home or purchasing high value items, you may need to have a comprehensive review of your insurance protection. Stop by or call us at 508-528-3310 or toll-free at 888-528-3310 to set up a convenient appointment. Our goal is to make sure you have proper coverage for your home, car, family and lifestyle... neither too little nor too much!
And finally, we'd like to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving! Please drive safely on your way to and from your celebrations!
Support our Food and Fund Drive
During this 2019 Holiday Season we invite you to join us in supporting our local Franklin Food Pantry. This group supports our community's need all year long, not just for the holidays.
You can bring your donations of non-perishable foods to the Keefe lobby. You can also donate much needed monetary support that allows the Pantry to buy food from the Greater Boston Food Bank and to supplement food donations with FRESH food, like fruits, meats and vegetables.
Or you can donate online directly to the food pantry at www.franklinfoodpantry.org
DID YOU KNOW?
If someone is ticketed for using a cell phone while driving, will this impact their insurance rates?
According to the website Insurance.com, there are now few states in the country where you won't get stopped and ticketed for using a cell phone while driving. It is considered a moving violation and is treated accordingly. However, individual companies may treat the ticket differently.
In Massachusetts, the average clean record rate Is $1425. However, this will increase by 33% to $1900 based on your first texting ticket according to a survey done by Insurance.com. That makes Massachusetts the 6th highest rate increase in the country. New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine have similar penalty percentages.
Beyond the fine, the ticket adds points to your driving record which results in the higher rates.
Is texting or cell phone use while driving treated like seat belt use?
No. It is primary enforcement. You won't be stopped for not wearing a seat belt. You can and will be stopped for using your cell phone while driving.
What are the fines again for cell phone use while driving?
The fine for a first offense is $35 and $75 for a second offense in a 12 month period. Junior Operators will get a $100 fine for a first offense and will have their license suspended after that. So the insurance impact is the most expensive part of a cell phone violation.
We are planning on doing holiday entertaining. What is our social host liability and are we covered by our homeowners policy?
If someone becomes inebriated at a party at your house, leaves, and gets in an accident, the host who served the alcohol can be liable under MA law. Some policies provide coverage as part of their policy and some don't. If you do a lot of entertaining, you may want to consider adding an umbrella liability policy to your current homeowners policy. We'd be glad to review your current coverage with you.
What about teens getting into the holiday punch?
Massachusetts has very strict laws regarding underage drinking. An adult who allows minors not related to the adult to drink alcohol in their home can be liable for criminal charges, a $2000 fine, and a year in jail. In some circumstances, the homeowner can be held liable under the social host law, even if they didn't serve the alcohol to the minors, where the teens went out and got in an accident after leaving the home where they consumed the alcohol.