5 ways to #insurelocal with HVA

HVA insuring the hv

Hudson Valley Agents has adopted the #insurelocal hashtag for a very good reason, we have 5, yes 5, New York state-based insurance companies that we work with and that is a pretty big deal.

When you insure with a regionally based insurance company your rates are regionally based.  For example, if your homeowners insurance is with Allstate or State Farm then you might have noticed an increase in your premiums after the California wild fires destroyed so many homes.  This happens when your insurance company covers everything everywhere.  A locally based insurance company’s rates reflect the risks and losses of their region and not the rest of the country.

If you would like to #insurelocal then give us a call, we work with these local companies –

Keep your money where you live, shop locally, eat locally, play locally, and insure locally with Hudson Valley Agents!

 

Could Dr. Xavier get homeowners insurance?

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Hudson Valley Comic Con is May 7-8 this year and it’s looking like it might be a whole lot of fun to go check it out.  Finding their website the day after watching an X-Men flick with my fiancee led me to wonder if any of our favorite comic book hero’s had Hudson Valley connections.  When I found out about Dr. Xavier’s school and Strong Guy’s connections I was hooked!  But this information left me with one very serious question, could Dr. Xavier insure his home/school?

Dr. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is located in Westchester county so he would be able to call Hudson Valley Agents for his homeowners insurance.  That point alone would save him thousands of dollars, but what about the “Gifted Youngsters” who also reside in the house?  Wouldn’t all of the fires, frozen pipes, and broken walls force Dr. Xavier to submit multiple claims to his homeowners insurance company?  According to the insurance experts at HVA, when you make multiple claims on your insurance policy you can expect your rates to increase.  When you look at all of the damage that those “Gifted Youngsters” inflict upon the structure Dr. Xavier might be better off just paying for his repairs out of pocket.  Save the insurance claims for when a spaceship lands on the house and just pay a local contractor (who insures with Hudson Valley Agents) to do the repairs.  Of course, there’s the whole issue of whether or not this is a school or a residence but that’s a topic for a different blog post.

Dr. Xavier is not the only X-Men with a Hudson Valley connection, Strong Guy (of X-Men fame) was “born” in Rhinebeck, which is located in Dutchess County. as is Bard College where Dr. Xavier studied before going to Oxford.  This terrific article from the Hudson Valley Almanac Weekly has a much more precise list and it is a great read.

We always knew that the Hudson Valley was a very special place and knowing that other’s like it enough to put it into their own work makes us smile.  Hey Hudson Valley Comic Con, Hudson Valley Agents offers affordable event insurance so give us a call next year!  #insurelocal

September is National Preparedness month, are you ready?

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Most of us spend September preparing for back to school and the colder weather and that’s a good start to National Preparedness month but our preparations shouldn’t stop there. Today’s blog is about three ways to prepare for National Preparedness month.

Making a family disaster plan is probably one of the most overlooked items on the preparedness checklist. Without a family disaster plan how will family members who are not at home know where to go to meet up with other family members? Have a family meeting and set up everyone’s “In case of emergency” contact information on their cell phones. If your home or street has become unreachable due to flooding or fire make sure your family has another location to meet at and make every family member aware of how to reach that location.

Making a disaster plan that includes your pets is really important too. Keep a small bag of their food and any needed medications as well as their leashes and copies of their vaccine information in an easily accessible location. Keep cat carriers within easy reach. Your pets are family members and need to be included in your preparedness plans.

Sitting down with a local independent insurance agent is also a way to prepare for any disaster. Your insurance will help you rebuild your home and replace lost furnishings. Having your current insurance policies reevaluated can save you money and will ensure that you are carrying the correct amount of insurance coverage.

Hudson Valley Agent’s Veep, Dave Jr, is a firm believer in being prepared and he’s been in the insurance business long enough to know that a good insurance policy can make a huge difference to families who have been through a disaster. Call HVA today and get the peace of mind you deserve.

Get to know Kingston (you’ll love it!!)

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Every town, village, city, and county in the Hudson Valley has its own vibe, Ulster is where we take it easy and peace out, Dutchess is where we go to visit the upstate elite, and so on. I cannot be the only person who has noticed this, can I? This weekend I found myself defending my county and my city so often that I just had to sit down and blog about it.

When I finally decided it was time to own my own home I choose to live in Ulster county, and I purposely chose the city of Kingston. I had grown up in Orange County (Mount Hope – don’t blink or you’ll miss it), my first apartment was in Montgomery, my second was in Goshen. When I got married and started a family we lived in Hyde Park and later moved to LaGrange, both in Dutchess county. But when I finally decided start a business and buy a house Ulster county was where I wanted to be. I rented an apartment in Kingston and decided to see if I liked living there, in less than six months I was house hunting and had found my home.

Over the weekend I found myself having to defend my city to those who had never fully explored it. If you only come to Kingston to see a show at UPAC or to visit one particular restaurant then you miss the charm of the place. I’m sure if the only part of Kingston that I had ever seen was mid-town I probably wouldn’t have chosen to call Kingston home either. But before the haters get too far into their rants let me explain my love affair with New York’s first capital city.

Kingston was an easy choice for me, after years and years of living in places where having a car was a necessity moving somewhere that allowed me to only have to get behind the wheel twice a week (sometimes less than that) was exhilarating. If I want a great bagel or pastries I can walk to my local bakery (The Cake Box). If I run out of milk or cat food I can walk to my local bodega or Stewarts. If I want to go out for a really nice meal there are more restaurants than I have time to list all within a ten minute walk from my home. If I want a new outfit or have to buy a gift all I have to do is walk out of my front door and within minutes I can be at Bop To Tottom or any of the other great shops in uptown Kingston. My hairdresser is there, my bookstore is there, my vintage clothing store is there, my tattoo artist is there (Hi Karma Tattoo) and so is my pharmacy. If I wanted to walk to the grocery store I could do that too, but I simply don’t want to. My Saturday mornings are spent at the Kingston Farmer’s Market and I get all the locally sourced organic produce I want just a couple of blocks from my front door. Why would I go to a grocery store? I have never lived in a place where so many business owners help each other and their communities. I really wish that other communities could experience this type of harmony. The Kingston Uptown Business Association (aka KUBA) has a lot to do with this and they do a magnificent job.

Uptown Kingston is a tourist destination and so is the waterfront. Midtown is still trying to rise to the same level as their counterpoints and I feel that eventually this will happen. Kingston is a city within a easygoing county and while it’s a bit gritty and rough around the edges I love it. Parking is an issue, but show me any thriving city that does not have parking issues. Yes crime is an issue, but our crime rate is much lower than the city of Poughkeepsie or Newburgh. I will willingly walk through the roughest sections of Kingston (and have) but I avoid walking anywhere in the cities of Poughkeepsie and Newburgh because they are really very scary.

My father is a lifelong Orange county resident. He grew up in Newburgh, moved to Montgomery, and has settled down in Maybrook. He is a truck driver and he has to come to midtown Kingston at least once a week, he hates it. He hates the traffic patterns (understandably), he hates the parking (join the club), and he is under the mistaken notion that Kingston is a dying city. He only willingly comes to Kingston once a year and that’s only because we have the only French restaurant that he has deemed “acceptable” (BTW – try Le Canard Enchaine,it is amazing). Other than driving his truck or eating snails he has never taken the time to fully explore all that uptown Kingston has to offer. He’s never checked out the live music scene (sending my love to BSP) or wandered into Rhino Records. He’s never walked next door to Ecce Terra and met Bridget and her amazing staff. He’s never taken the time to walk five minutes to the Stockade Tavern where they serve his favorite gin. When he called me from his truck this past Friday all he did was complain that Kingston has too many parades and not enough ways around them. Sorry Dad, Kingston shines in the summertime and we will do nothing to change that.

So I think it is safe to say that I am a devoted Kingstonite.  I took the time to get to know the business owners and community leaders before I decided that Kingston would become my home base.  The friends and family members that visit us find that they fall in love with my city almost as quickly as I did.  Friends who insisted that they never go out on New Years eve find themselves at my home every year for the big New Year‘s Eve celebration, complete with ball drop.  Other friends make a point of being here for the big Chronogram Block Party and still others make the Kingston Artists Soapbox Derby their reason to visit.  So the next time you find yourself in Kingston take the time to get to know us, you’ll be surprised by just how much we have to offer!  Oh, and just because Hudson Valley Agents isn’t based in Ulster county does not mean that we don’t insure here!  HVA has a large Kingston client base and they understand the insurance needs of this historic city.  We offer low cost NY insurance to all of the Hudson Valley and we work with many New York state based insurance companies too.  HVA insures the entire Hudson Valley so give them a call today!

Meet some of the insurance companies HVA works with

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You won’t find the insurance companies we work with blasting their jingles from your radio, they don’t have cavemen or lizards for mascots, and you won’t find any spots stadiums bearing their names and believe it or not this is a really good thing. There is a reason for this – when the product that you offer has real value to the people who purchase it word of mouth can be the best advertising!

Whenever I work out of our Walden office I often hear our clients talking to Kathy and Ashley, they say things like – “I’ve never heard of Maphre before you quoted me my car insurance, but I’m really happy I went with them.” or “I didn’t know that Preferred Mutual is a New York State insurance company, talk about keeping it local!” When you call Hudson Valley Agents for an insurance quote you might not always recognize the names of the insurance companies we work with and that is why I wanted to introduce you to a few of them today.

Preferred Mutual – This Chenango county based company was founded in 1896 and they only work with independent agents. The Professional Insurance Agents (aka PIA) ranks them as the 4th top performer in New York state.

 

Maphre– This company began in 1972 in Webster, Massachusetts and went by the name The Commerce Group. Today they are known as Maphre and they have branched out to 19 US states.


Mercury Insurance – Mercury Insurance is a California based company and it has been in business for over 50 years.

 

Before HVA decides to work with an insurance company our VP, Dave Jr, looks them over from stem to stern. They have to offer his clients great insurance at reasonable prices and they must address insurance claims quickly and fairly. If an insurance company cannot give our clients the best insurance value for their hard earned money then we will not work with them.

Take a moment to get to know HVA and the insurance companies we work with and then give us a call at 778-2141. You and your bank account will be very happy you did.  Low cost NY insurance that still comes with a live agent!

Airbnb & nightmare guests, are you properly insured?

 

The Airbnb phenomenon is a unique and inexpensive alternative to the standard motel/hotel experience for travelers and a way to gain income from an unused bedroom for homeowners. It seems to be a match made in heaven, but what happens when heaven turns to hell in one short weekend? A family in Canada found out that not all Airbnb guests are created equally –
After watching that clip I can honestly say that I will (probably) NEVER become an Airbnb host! How do you even begin to clean up such a mess and who will pay it? I asked HVA’s own Dave Jr about it and his response did not sound too promising. “If your home is your prime source of income via Airbnb or a Bed and Breakfast and you only carry a standard homeowners insurance policy then you are probably out of luck.” he said. Airbnb does offer their hosts something called Host Guarantee but is it enough? Will a standard homeowners insurance policy cover an Airbnb host and their guest? No.

A standard homeowners insurance policy was not created to cover all of the pitfalls that a standard Bed and Breakfast runs into, it was never meant to. Your homeowners policy covers the things that a normal family experiences in their normal day to day lives. When you have a Bed and Breakfast or an Airbnb you need additional coverage for these additional problems and unfortunately many people do not realize this and that my friends is why you really need to talk to an independent insurance agent before you decide to own and operate a standard Bed and Breakfast or an Airbnb.

A person who runs a standard Bed and Breakfast knows that they run a business and it must be treated as such, that means proper permits, proper insurance, and a visit from a health inspector. An Airbnb host may be savvy enough to have all of these things but many hosts are winging it and that leaves them and their guests in a sort of business limbo. What happens if an Airbnb guest becomes ill from eating a meal in your home? What happens if someone visiting your Airbnb guest damages your home? If you do not have proper insurance coverage then you and you alone are left paying and you risk loosing your home in the process.

Airbnb’s are a wonderful idea and can be a great way to get to know the people who live in the city you are visiting. It’s the perfect way to meet new people and get extra income out of that spare bedroom that no one ever uses but there is always a downside as the people in Canada found out. For further information on properly insuring your Airbnb or Bed and Breakfast contact Dave Jr at Hudson Valley Agents, 845-778-2141. Your home is your greatest asset, protect it with the right insurance coverage.

It’s finally Drive In season!!!

 

The weather is warm and you know what that means Hudson Valley – TIME TO GO TO THE DRIVE IN! Drive in movie theaters are dying out all over the country but here in the Hudson Valley we have several to choose from –
The Hyde Parke Drive In (Hyde Park, Dutchess County)
The Overlook Drive In (Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County)
Four Brothers Drive In (Amenia, Dutchess County)
Warwick Drive In (Warwick, Orange County)
For a full listing of all of the drive in’s in New York State click here.

Drive In’s are one of the very best things to do on warm Spring/Summer nights! Pillows and blankets are a must and you can bring your favorite snacks and beverages to boot! The kids can run around and play (before the movie starts that is) and then they get to enjoy a great movie to boot! The one thing I miss the most from my own experience as a kid at the drive in is this –

 

Who wouldn’t want to eat delicious dancing food?

But the thing that sticks out most in my mind from my very first drive in movie is the old snack bar/lobby ads. Nothing was cheesier than a candy bar, a box of popcorn, and a cup of soda parading around and asking for moviegoers to consume them. Cheesy and creepy
Our Hudson Valley drive in theaters are independently owned and so is Hudson Valley Agents! (HVA can insure your drive in theater & the car you drive to get there too) Make sure your car’s battery is fully charged, pack some mosquito repellent, grab some pillows and blankets, load up the cooler with snacks and settle back to enjoy the show! Get outside and explore all that our Hudson Valley has to offer and remember – shop local, eat local, drink local, and insure local with HVA!

Calling all contractors – HVA has you covered!

 

CALLING ALL CONTRACTORS – Hudson Valley Agents can provide you with certificates of insurance quickly, and we’ll make sure you have the coverage you need at great prices!

All contractors need insurance, plumbing, electrical, construction, even dog trainers and that is the subject of today’s blog post. What types of insurance coverage does an independent contractor need? Well, that depends on what type of independent contractor you happen to be, an independent caterer needs product and liquor liability coverage, but an electrician does not. A typical independent contractor should carry –

– Professional Liability Coverage – aka errors and omission insurance. This policy protects you should any mistakes be made that cost your client money.

– Workers Compensation – If you have employees this is a must have policy.

– Commercial Auto – If you have a work truck that you use exclusively for business then insure it as such.

– Independent Contractors Liability Insurance – This policy has many sub-categories such as: general liability coverage, property damage, contract liability, bodily injury, advertising personal injury, contract liability and completed operations and product. It is really important to talk with an independent insurance agent about this policy to ensure that all of your needs are covered.

– Business Owners Policy – Many aspects of your independent contractors liability insurance can be combined with other insurance coverage to create an individualized business owners policy (aka BOP) and this could earn you a significant discount on your insurance coverage.

The best way to make sure all of your insurance needs are covered is to talk to an independent insurance agent. Any gaps in insurance coverage could be catastrophic to your business and you work too hard to have that happen. Hudson Valley Agents is the Hudson Valley’s contractor insurance expert and we can get you your insurance certificates quickly and efficiently. Time = Money and your time is too valuable to wait for anything! Call Hudson Valley Agents today 778-2141.

Life in the biggest little city in the Hudson Valley

 

We all know that the Hudson Valley is a fantastic place to live. We have easy access to NYC and easy access to our own local cities as well. We aren’t a “party all night/sleep all day” place but we still know how to party. We have plays, live music, business growth, plenty of parks to hike and bike in, the best restaurants, great wineries, fantastic breweries, and an up and coming distillery scene. What’s not to love about living in the Hudson Valley?

When my significant other and I decided to cohabitate we knew we needed to be in the Hudson Valley and in either Orange county, Dutchess county, or Ulster county. We sat down and discussed the pros and cons of each county, we had both grown up in Orange county (Scotchtown for him, Newburgh and Mount Hope for me) and neither of us felt it was a good fit for us now. We considered Dutchess county simply because I had lived there before and raised my daughter there. Ulster county was the one big unknown, we had both visited it on day trips, Woodstock and Kingston’s water front district were our usual haunts, but neither of us knew what it would be like to live there. In 2013 we rented an apartment in Kingston and plunged into getting to know our new city. We kept telling each other that if we did not like this new place we could always move. It’s now 2015 and we have been in our house for just over a year. Kingston is now home.

I was hesitant to move to a city. If you are at all familiar with Mount Hope then you understand why, nothing but cow pastures and trees as far as the eye can see out there. Life in a city with an active freight train that runs through it takes a little getting used to but the occasional wait at a train crossing is nothing when you compare it to everything else this city has to offer. Yes, there are seedy sections but even the most rundown parts of Kingston look better than anywhere in the city of Newburgh or Poughkeepsie. Kingston is a city on the upswing, something Newburgh and Poughkeepsie are still striving to do.

Family and friends often make a point of coming to visit us in Kingston and we still aren’t sure if they come for us or the city itself. Aunt Ro likes the historical buildings and the cemetery at the Old Dutch Church (Kingston was the very first capitol of New York State), Aunt Janie likes the unique shops and the Kingston Candy Bar (Best. Candy. Anywhere.), both of their spouses love the restaurants as well as The Stockade Tavern and Keegan Ales. The big bonus is that we are five minutes from the Thruway so visiting from Utica or Long Island is a breeze.

Our typical summertime Saturday morning consists of a seven minute walk uptown to the Kingston Farmers Market to buy produce, peanut butter, and quiche, then a walk over to Outdated Café for brunch and antiquing. All through the spring, summer, fall, and winter I have access to locally sourced food within a seven minute walk from my front door, this! Our Farmers Market is huge and practically on the doorstep of every single restaurant uptown making the Saturday night dinner specials even more special. Oh, and if you happen to be gluten free you’ll find that almost every restaurant has gluten free options that are divine.

Business rents are incredibly reasonable, some are downright cheap compared to Dutchess or Orange counties. As a matter of fact you can even rent office space in an opera house! The local government officials work hard to make sure businesses come and stay in the area, it’s nice to have everyone working towards a common goal.

Kingston is not without its problems. A high school desperately in need of repairs, traffic patterns that make zero sense, and ancient water mains. Yes there is crime, yes there is are places you might not want to walk around in at night but it is a city not a village. Even with these issues Kingston is a wonderful place to live, this is where Hippies and Hipsters come to coexist! Can you believe that there is even a #movetokingstonnow movement?!?

Were you aware of the fact that where you live has an impact on your insurance rates? Before you put down roots in a new place talk to an independent insurance agent. Insuring your home and car may be more expensive in some areas and less expensive in others. Hudson Valley Agents understands the insurance needs of the Hudson Valley and they work with New York State based insurance companies to bring their clients the best rates with great coverage. It’s not quite farm to table insurance but we can insure your farm and your table too! Give them a call today at 778-2141!

4 Things you never knew about insurance agents

 

I spoke to a woman today who told me that she is paying way too much for insurance but she will not change companies because she’s uncomfortable trusting any insurance agent to not be “a sleaze ball”, and that my friend’s is an exact quote. I told her about Hudson Valley Agents, I even went so far as to say, “Hudson Valley Agents is the Hudson Valley’s best family owned independent insurance agency!”, talk about shameless promotion! I think insurance agents have an undeserved bad reputation so today’s blog should help clean that up.

Independent insurance agents are some of the hardest working people in the insurance business and perhaps it is time we acknowledged this fact. Before one can actually call themselves an insurance agent they have to learn the business, they have to study and pass a state licensing test and have hours of continuing education to keep that license. They need to be versed in many different types of insurance and have a well honed business sense. They must calmly and compassionately help clients who have just suffered a tragedy (house fire, car accident, death of a loved one). They are part financial planner, part counselor, part insurance law expert, and part business person all rolled up in one.

When you look for a new independent insurance agent there are things you need to keep in mind –

1- It isn’t all about money. A good insurance agent will find you the best coverage available even if it is with a company that pays the agent a low commission. The client must come first.

2- They have to give above average customer service. Normally people only speak to their insurance agent when they first purchase their policy, when they need to add or subtract something from their policy, or when they need to make a claim. They have only two or three interactions in which to make a positive impression. When a client needs to make a claim or change their coverage they expect to be taken care of promptly and professionally so good customer service is the key to repeat business.

3- You need to be pretty darn smart to be an insurance agent. Life insurance, business insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, boat insurance, classic car insurance, vacation insurance, wedding insurance, and many, many other types of insurance policies are sold by the same agency and your agent should be able to answer any question you have about any aspect of your policy.

4- Independent insurance agencies are usually a family affair. Our agency is a father and son agency and together they have several decades of insurance knowledge. When something is part of your family you work harder for it. Your business reputation and your family reputation go hand in hand.

Remember the lady I spoke of in the beginning of the blog? She just called me and asked for Hudson Valley Agent’s phone number (845-778-2141). She told me that if anyone could speak so highly of her insurance agent then they must be worth looking into! When you find a great insurance agent it’s kind of hard to keep quiet about it so if you love your insurance agent tell a friend or two and share the love. Hudson Valley Agents is the Hudson Valley’s best family owned independent insurance agency. Let them show you that the best insurance in the Hudson Valley can be found at Hudson Valley Agents.