Nor’easter Update: Trees Down? Here are the facts from Levitt-Fuirst

If You Have Fallen Trees On Your Property,
Here Is How Your Homeowners Insurance Is Designed to Respond

Over the last week we have received many questions about insurance coverage for trees falling on your property.   However, we have not been asked “if a tree falls when no one is home, does it make a sound?”.

If trees falls and does not damage property (e.g. the home, fence, etc.), there is no coverage for the removal.   (The insurance company bases premium on the cost to insure your home, NOT how many trees you have or the acreage of your lot.)

When a tree falls onto your neighbor’s property as a result of nature (i.e. an “Act of God”), and not your negligence, removal of the tree and resulting damage is typically the responsibility of the owner of the property where the tree lands.   Sometimes, to remain good neighbors, both parties split the costs.

Please contact us with any questions on this, or any other coverage or claims topic, or visit our Claims page for more information.

The Case For Snow Tires 2016/2017

Snow Tires GTI

by Peter Andersen

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog on snow tires.  With Winter Storm Fortis hitting hard to our north, I realize that it is that time once again for a quick edit and repost.  Levitt-Fuirst knows insurance, so consider this piece a different type of insurance – because sometimes insurance comes in a policy, but sometimes it comes in the form of 4 wheels ready to tackle the white stuff that is sure to follow.

As the temperatures dip and the winter season arrives, it is time to think about snow tires (again).

But I Have All-Season Tires!

If you bought your car in the northeast, you were given All-Season Tires by default.  Many people feel that their all-season tires are designed to survive winter’s wrath, but they are actually designed to do everything pretty well.  Rain, not bad.  Dry, perfectly fine.  Race Track, meh, not so much.  Snow?  Ummmm… Snow?  Not so good, really.  If we get 3 or 4 inches of the white stuff, if you don’t go up or down hills much at all, if you can leave your car at home and take a train, then you could be set!  For the rest of you, however, driving up and down hills and to and from work, taking your kids to school or driving mom to the airport; snow tires are just the kind of insurance for your family that makes a whole lot of sense.

Why snow tires?  First, read a basic Q&A here, at About Cars…    This is a few years old, but as true today as it was when it was written.  As you can see, snow tires are made of special rubber, they have tread designs specific to the needs of snow and ice, and they make a huge difference in your driving safety when the white stuff falls.  Even on dry pavement, the rubber is more pliable when the temps dip into the teens – while your all seasons get hard and brittle in the winter, snow tires stay soft and grippy.  If you need your car daily, there is no better investment in the northeast than snow tires, making your 2 or 4 wheel drive vehicle safe and secure as you commute.  Wait, even all wheel drive cars need snow tires???  YES!  All wheel drive + snow tires turns your SUV into the perfect winter travel companion, taking on all that winter can send your way.  Without them, you will have just as hard a time stopping as the rest of us…

Does your taste run more toward sporty cars?  The biggest benefit for you is you can buy summer tires for the other 3 seasons, and have snow tires for the winter.  You can improve your driving in wet and dry during the warmer months, and because those expensive sticky treads will be in your garage for 4 months each year, they should last you about 33% longer.  One last note on sports cars – if you have a rear wheel drive daily-driver, go to a tire store and buy snow tires.  Now.  Really!  Go, we will wait…  Your sports car is nearly useless without them in a standard snow storm…

Are You Sold?  Good!  You Have Two Options…

Option 1:  If you have a small or economy car, you likely have wheels in the 15″ – 16″ size range.  This is a good size for snow tires, so you can have them installed right on your current rims.  This requires a repair shop or tire store to do the install.  The benefits are you only have to pay for the tires and installation, the drawback is that you have to pay for that installation twice a year, as you switch between your winter and summer tires.

Option 2: Get a totally separate set of wheels with your winter tires (as I have done with my VW, shown in the picture).  You may see the term “Steelies” used for steel wheels that are often utilized for this purpose.  For those of you with 18″ wheels or larger on your performance vehicle, this option may save you some money on the snow tires, as winter tires for large diameter wheels are expensive and less effective.  Winter tires work well on smaller wheels because the tire sidewalls are larger than the low profile sport tires your car likely came with.  My car, for example, has 18′ wheels with low profile tires, but I use 16′ steelies and winter tires – and paid less for the tires.  The drawback to this option is the initial cost, as steelies run from $50 to $100 per wheel, and you may need 4 tire pressure sensors installed as well – a one-time charge, dependent on your car.  The benefit is the ease of switching the wheels between seasons (your shop will charge you less, or you can do it yourself if you have a jack), and that you will have the wheels winter after winter.  You also save your pretty shiny wheels from the winter salt and punishing ice, making them look better for longer.

Now?  Sigh…

Winter is here, so now is the time!  Contact one of the many retailers that sell those winter tires, because you need them more than you realize.  You may be able to get some used rims off of Craig’s List, or order them online to save a few dollars.  Store your summer tires for the year in your shed, garage or basement (always on their side, stacked), and enjoy the next 4 months without worry.  You won’t believe the change in your car during the next storm!  Now drive smart, drive carefully, and get there safe.


Tire Rack: Find the right tire for your car (or buy a set with wheels included)

Top 10 Winter Tires (Insurance Hotline,  a Canadian site – because they know snow…)

Snow Tire Q&A (About Cars)


Storm Preparedness and You


Today, we have a guest blogger from EducatorLabs, Jasmine Dyoco.  Jasmine came to us with the thought of giving our clients and readers some great information on storm preparedness.  The best way to lower claim costs is to stop the claims from happening in the first place, and storm preparation is a great first step.  These great tips will help protect you, your family and your property from loss during storms of all types.

Thank you, Jasmine, for this valuable information.  You are welcome to join us as a guest blogger any time!

P. Andersen


by Jasmine Dyoco

Although summer is coming to a close, hurricane season is still in full swing. These storms’ strong winds and torrential downpours cause millions of dollars in damage each year, often due to tornado-strength winds, and most especially, flooding. In fact, around 75 percent of Presidential declared weather emergencies are flood related. While we can’t control the weather and the many natural disasters it causes, we can be prepared for them to help ensure the safety of our loved ones, homes and communities!

But how many people really know what measures to take to protect themselves in the event of an emergency?

That’s why I created the following list on preparedness for floods, hurricanes and other weather phenomena.

Thank you for taking action to create a more well-informed community on staying safe and healthy in the eye of a storm!

Storm Preparation 101!

by Peter Andersen


There was a time when the idea of a hurricane in the tri-state area was not taken seriously. “A hurricane? In New York? Nope, not going to happen”. Until a few years ago, we were all pretty sure that any hurricane that ran up the east coast would weaken, reduce to a fraction of its former self, and become a glorified late summer storm. Sandy set us straight, though, didn’t she? A perfect combination of weather events allowed for a devastating landfall, as high tides rolled across Manhattan, trees tore down power lines across the region, historic covered bridges were washed away across Vermont, and much of the region went dark.

What did we learn? Hopefully, we learned enough to be better prepared the next time. We learned not to assume. We learned that even unexpected things happen at unexpected times (A hurricane in OCTOBER???). Hopefully, we also learned that we have to be smart and proactive to minimize the impact a storm like this can have on our lives.

From an insurance perspective, there are quite a few things you can do in preparation. Be sure your home is properly insured, your auto has comprehensive coverage (a co-worker here at Levitt-Fuirst had her car flattened by a tree during Sandy), and that you have documented your valuable articles in case there is damage to your home and its contents. Flood insurance was a key coverage for many during Sandy, if you haven’t already, give yourself a flood primer in our piece from July 21st.

Outside of the house, there is much you should do as well. Another of our posts mentioned keeping your trees trimmed for the summer, but this is really a 4 season rule. In the summer, we have regular heavy storms and occasional named storms that come through, and ice storms, snow storms and blizzards wreak havoc from October through April – it isn’t easy being a tree! Keep them pruned and healthy to minimize the damage they can cause to power lines, roofs, and other structures on your property. Also, be sure to clear your lawn of anything that could be blown by the wind – these can be dangerous projectiles in a big wind event.

Inside the home, close your windows, turn up your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings in case of a power outage. For short term emergencies, you should have supplies on hand such as plenty of canned food, water, and cash. After 9-11, myself and many other New York City residents were prompted to create Emergency Kits – first aid, food, money, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets. These were important items for the horror of those days, but they also would come in handy during any storm or event that takes out your power for more than a day or two.

Do you have a plan for those occasions when the power goes out for an extended period of time? Sandy saw homes without power for weeks! In those longer term power-loss events, perhaps a generator would be a worthy investment? Make sure to locate friends or family that would welcome you should you need to relocate, and make an evacuation plan. Be sure to gas up your cars! I think we all learned that the hard way – with major storms come major gas supply problems. If a storm is on the move, gas up your cars and use them as little as possible – when you need to get out of town, that foresight might be the difference between securely arriving at your destination, and using your last fumes searching for an open and operational gas station.

For so many years, we were lulled into a false sense of security that our region was secure from large scale events, be it hurricanes, terrorism, or huge regional blackouts due to a domino effect of power station problems from Ohio to New York. The idea is not to know exactly what will come next, but rather to be as prepared as possible for ANYTHING that could come next. Simple steps and precautions can help you as you endure events that are beyond your control, protecting yourself and your family, and speeding your financial recovery in the face of damage to your home or property.

 Hurricane Preparation Links: