Power Strip Safety

Power strip safety is an area of major concern for the insurance industry during the holiday season. As homeowners install decorative lights on their homes and Christmas trees, they suddenly discover they lack sufficient outlets to handle the additional power demands.

The easy solution? The good-old, reliable power strip.

What is a power strip?

A power strip in its simplest form is nothing more than an extension cord with more than one outlet. Many power strips now provide surge protection and battery backup. Electrical surges caused by brownouts and the like could cause severe damage to computers, televisions, modems, and cable boxes. With an advanced power strip, these power surges are blocked, and your expensive electrical equipment is protected.

Even worse is the electrical damage caused by a complete loss of power, followed by a sudden restoration of power. Computer motherboards, hard drives, and other delicate electronic devices can suffer extensive damage, if not complete destruction, rendering you unable to retrieve valuable information or watch your favorite show. With power strips, you can turn a two-plug outlet into as many as ten or twelve outlets. Thus, you can add more light strings inside and outside the house.

What’s the danger?

The fact is your normal two-plug outlet was only designed to handle the load from two electrical devices, not four, six, or ten. Adding additional electrical devices using power strips places additional strain on home wiring systems not designed to handle additional loads. Also, many homes and apartments still carry two-prong wired outlets, requiring device owners to use three-prong adapters so they can enjoy their modern equipment. 

What happens to overloaded power strips?

Take a look at this graphic of an actual overloaded power strip.

power strip overuse leads to extreme damage and danger from fires
Power Strip overload danger

This overloaded power strip actually began to melt. With just a bit more damage, this overloaded power strip would catch fire, leading to the destruction of a home or business.

Don’t plug these appliances into power strips

Powerful appliances should never be plugged into a power strip and you might be surprised which appliances count.

1. Space heater.
Portable heaters cycle on and off, with each on-cycle drawing a surge of current. If plugged into a power strip, this surge usually causes an overload, which can cause a fire.

2. Microwave.
Requires a dedicated high-voltage wall outlet.

3. Slow cooker.
These common appliances may not draw surges of power, but they use power continuously over long periods. Plug them into wall outlets instead.

4. Toaster and toaster oven.
Those red-hot coils inside don’t heat up without a lot of current, which can quickly overload a power strip.

5. Hairdryer, curling iron.
These draw significant amperage to get hot — too much for a power strip.

6. Coffee maker.
All it does is heat up water. But it does it with a lot of amps. It is misleadingly simple. Always plug it into the wall.

What is the alternative?

Renters have little say concerning the quality of the wiring in their homes or apartment.

Homeowners should hire only licensed electricians to completely rewire their homes, compliant with current building codes. One of my clients chose for their electrician to completely rewire their home when they purchased fit in 2012, and that work, as well as plumbing, heating, and roofing upgrades, proved beneficial in qualifying for a lower home insurance premium. Also, the homeowner enjoyed the peace of mind of knowing their home would be free of many problems for years to come.

So, in closing, the safe use of power strips can be beneficial. Just don’t go overboard with the number of devices plugged into them.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., is an NYS-licensed independent insurance agent and broker.

Call him at 718-489-2218 or email him at info@greavesinsurance.com to solve your home, auto, flood, life, disability, and auto insurance needs.

You can also follow his website at https://greavesinsurance.com for more information regarding personal insurance.

Nailing Down a Good Contractor

Nailing down a good contractor is key to great home improvements

I recently sat down with Curtis L. Godoy, a licensed NYC contractor, EPA-certified Painter, and Master Carpenter. This time, the conversation wasn’t about certificates of Insurance he needed for his latest home renovation. This conversation dealt with everything home and property owners need to know to nail down a good contractor.

Your search for a good contractor begins

You are finally in your dream home.  You designed the perfect floor plan. Everything you need is in just the right place.

You even have a sign on your wall saying ‘Welcome Home.’

However, a few months after moving in, you may notice that something isn’t quite right or you want to change something.  Wisely, you realize what you want to accomplish is far beyond your DIY skillset.

If you don’t know exactly how to do this, why not find a good contractor?

Good contractors, like good men, can be hard to find

A good contractor possesses several qualities necessary for them to help you with home improvement.

First, they will listen to and work to understand what you need during an initial joint walkthrough of your home. Now, some contractors actually charge for the walkthrough, with a credit given should they get the contract. Some, like myself, don’t charge. We consider the walkthrough a great opportunity to learn two (2) things.

A good contractor wants to see and understand your vision for your space.

When you meet with the contractor, share your thoughts concerning new designs, improvements, or changes to your home. Is the good contractor the right contractor for you?

This walkthrough also provides the good contractor with an idea of whether they can work with you to make your vision a reality. This ‘meeting of the minds’ is most important as your contractor must be as comfortable working with and for you as you are with them.

When you are in agreement

Should you and the contractor reach an agreement about your vision and the work necessary to make it a reality, it’s time to construct a contract.  The contract will fully detail the work the contractor will complete, the attendant costs for materials, labor, and any additional insurance costs, the starting and completion dates, and the payment schedule.

No client should be expected to suffer frustrating delays caused by the contractor’s failure to perform for any reason except supply chain issues or local natural or medical disasters.

The recent pandemic lockdown is a perfect example. In New York City,  prevented contractors and their workers from starting, continuing, or completing work. Getting caught trying to enter buildings, ‘on the sneak’ could result in license suspension or loss.

And the contractor shouldn’t be delayed in meeting payments to workers and subcontractors and purchasing additional materials because you fail to make scheduled payments on time.

For this reason, my contracts always include client and contractor penalties for failure to make scheduled payments on time and meet construction deadlines, respectively.

depicts the full range of tools a master carpenter and painter uses
Some of Curtis Godoy’s tools of the trade

Check the contractors licensing and insurance

Make sure your contractor candidate is properly licensed in your municipality. In New York City, your contractor must be licensed for home improvements and carry Worker Compensation, State Disability, General Liability, and Umbrella Insurance. Also, they must possess a Department of Buildings Contractor ID. (You can check to make sure a contractor has a valid ID at  https://www.nyc.gov/site/buildings/industry/check-license-registration-status.page.) This will enable them to secure the necessary permits for the work they plan to do.

Contractors should be licensed in their particular specialty. Their subcontractors should also provide proof of their meeting the same insurance requirements as the contractor. Each will provide Certificates of Insurance naming you as an additional insured.

What about using the local handyman to do the work?

I don’t suggest the use of handy people. Always use fully insured and licensed professionals.  This protects you and your property. Also, should you suffer what would normally be a fully insured loss, the company could refuse to pay the claim. Why? Because without the ability to pull the necessary permits, any major work will be considered illegal modifications by most insurance companies.

And companies either don’t pay or don’t like to pay for losses caused by illegal modifications.

How does one meet a good contractor?

Like many good contractors, most of my projects come from clients recommending my firm to their friends and neighbors. This isn’t a guarantee your home project will be perfect, but it is a good way to add a layer of comfort when choosing a good contractor.

So, if you’re vetting several contractors for a particular job, require each provides references and pictures of similar projects.  Ask each for references from the last five (5) years. This speaks to their years in business and the satisfaction of their customers. Pay close attention to any complaints of workers refusing to work because the contractor failed to pay them for the work they perform.

Competent home improvement and maintenance are important for those who invest in their property.  Before you jump into knocking down the walls, make sure that you have the right contractor to make your dream and vision for your home a reality.

This will help when you are working towards turning a house into your home.

Meet our expert, Curtis L. Godoy

Curtis L. Godoy is an NYC-licensed contractor and EPA-certified painter and Master Carpenter. Mr. Godoy brings over 20 years of experience in interior renovations and restorations.

You can reach Mr. Godoy by telephone at 347-581-5562, or by email at mourse413@optonline.net.

You can reach Eustace Greaves, Jr. at 718-489-2218 or by email at info@greavesinsurance.com

A New Mortgage Contingency Looms

A new mortgage contingency looms in the near future.


In this post, I’ll do a quick review of some of the better-known mortgage contingency clauses. And I’ll discuss one I believe many, if not all real estate attorneys and allied professionals should add to client contracts.

What are the contingencies in a real estate deal?

A contingent offer is a standard way that buyers agree to purchase a home if certain conditions are met. If the conditions are not met, then the buyer can back out of a sale without fear of losing their downpayment.

The Home Inspection

For example, a home- inspection is one of the most common contingencies. Some buyers are not willing to spend money on inspections unless they can back out of the purchase, or renegotiate it, at the end of the process.
A home inspection can reveal all sorts of problems from mold to bad floor joists. It is one contingency that is nearly always made on a sale.

Also, in my experience, the home buyer who hires a qualified home inspector, and stays with the inspector during the inspection is a more informed buyer. I can’t tell you home many home buyers call me for home insurance proposals who don’t even know the outside and inside square footage of their future home. Heck, how do you know your bed and living room furniture will fit? And how many can’t provide the month and date of important home upgrades that are part of normal maintenance? Not to mention the shutoffs for the gas, oil, electricity, and water services.

Which are the best-known contingencies?

The Mortgage Contingency

Another important contingency is the mortgage contingency is also, at least until now, the most common.  The mortgage contingency protects the buyer and the seller from a situation where the buyer can’t get a loan to cover the sale price. The buyer receives a certain amount of time to get a loan. He may think he has the mortgage lined up, but things happen. If he can’t get a lender to agree to the loan, then the buyer can back out of the agreement. This wastes everyone’s time and that’s why there is also an appraisal contingency.

The Appraisal Contingency

The appraisal contingency is good for the buyer because it helps ensure the property is actually worth what he is paying for it. In this case, a lender hires a third party to put a value on the property. If the value is less than the buyer is paying, then the buyer can cancel the deal.

While you may hear of non-contingency deals in hot real estate markets, these can be extremely risky for buyers and sellers.

You might hear of them in a case where the price is low and the buyers have cash. In this situation, the buyers sign the contract without an inspection. It is somewhat risky for the seller because if there is something dramatically wrong with the property, the buyers could sue. On the other hand, it is terribly risky for the buyer because they don’t know what the pitfalls of the property are.

A New Contingency Clause. The Availability of Home Insurance Clause

I strongly suggest real estate attorneys begin to include a new contingency clause in their contingent offers.

The new clause?  The Availability of Home Insurance Clause.

The reason for this new clause is simple – homeowners insurance may simply become unavailable in certain parts of the country. The inability to find home insurance that meets lender requirements may become difficult based on the homes’ location and other factors. What caused homeowner insurance rates to increase exponentially?

Several factors recently caused home insurance rates to skyrocket:

    • A 40.4% increase in the cost of residential building supplies since January 2020;
    • An increase in home replacement costs to match this inflationary rise;
    • Devastating hurricane and flood damage in Florida, the Eastern seaboard, and the Gulf regions of the United States, no doubt caused in large part to climate change;
    • An expected unprecedented increase in January 2023, in the cost and availability of reinsurance purchased by insurance companies.

What is reinsurance and why is it so important to insurance companies?

That will be the subject of an upcoming post. For now, suffice it to say without the ability to purchase affordable reinsurance, home insurance companies will have no choice but to limit their policy offerings.

For example, companies known as reliable markets for coastal or rural risks could severely limit how the number of policies they write or place a moratorium on writing these types of risks for a specified time.

In the past, some companies, concerned about their reinsurance costs and exposure to possible natural disasters simply chose to non-renew policies in certain areas.

It simply means a disruption in the availability of home insurance, especially for those purchasing a new home. In some cases, insurance companies will require more underwriter approvals, and proof of sound maintenance of the proposed risk. They may also be limited in the number of policies they are able to write with particular companies.

In the worst-case scenario, some independent agents and brokers, and captive agents, may find themselves losing insurance markets altogether.

And this matters because . . .

Without reliable and affordable markets for home insurance, home lending will crawl to a stop.

image shows relation between owning a home and the need for insurance
Let’s talk about home insurance

The bank will not close any mortgage unless ample proof of coverage in the form of a binder and a paid receipt is received by them prior to the closing. Without both, there will be no closing, and the purchaser may lose their downpayment.

There is a simple fact I’ve tried to share with members of the real estate and mortgage professions for my entire insurance career:

Don’t save the search and eventual purchase of home insurance for last.

Everyone looking to purchase a home should begin their home insurance search as soon as they receive their mortgage commitment.

Not two weeks before their lender anticipates closing their loan.

No, as soon as they sign on the dotted line.

In this way, homeowners and purchasers of new homes will best guarantee they will find and purchase the homeowners insurance they need.

A closing suggestion for real estate brokers, mortgage lenders, and real estate attorneys

Your local independent insurance agent is no longer an afterthought. You need to have good if not great relations with professionals able to provide you and your clients with the insurance they will need to close. Also, you might get calls from clients asking for referrals to independent agents able to assist them should companies stop offering home insurance in certain areas, and are in danger of being non-renewed.

Now is a good time to reach out to insurance professionals you know, and get referrals to other insurance professionals in your area. Over a virtual chat, an in-person cup of coffee, or a simple telephone call, find out whether their insurance resources are solid. And then, stay in touch.

Strengthening these relationships could make all the difference.

About the author

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF, is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 40 years of experience, 26 of those years as the owner of Bridge Insurance Agency.

Like to speak with Eustace?

Eustace is ready to assist you with your home, life, flood, disability, renters, auto, cooperative, condominium, and wedding insurance needs. He can be reached at his mobile number,  718-489-2218, his office number, 718-783-2722, or by email at info@greavesinsurance.com. You can also go to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and complete any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

How to subscribe to the “Never Knew News” newsletter

If you’d like to receive a free subscription to Eustace’s monthly newsletter, “Never Knew News,” go to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the Subscribe buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers you seek. For everything else, he’ll gladly call on his contacts for help. Just email him at info@greavesinsurance.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

Advantages of the late fall Real Estate market

Ask The Expert – Real Estate – Marcia Clarke, NYS Licensed Real Estate Broker

Marcia Clarke, NYS licensed Real Estate Broker. Member, Brooklyn Board of Realtors, ABR, AHWD CIPS, CRS, SRES
Marcia Clarke, ABR, AHWD, CIPS, CRS, SRES

I am honored to welcome Marcia Clarke, NYS Licensed Real Estate Broker, as a guest contributor to Brooklyn Covered. Marcia brings a wealth of experience and insights to buying and selling real estate.

In this post, Marcia Clarke shares timely information for buyers and sellers who are keen on taking advantage of the late fall real estate market during the holiday season.

Take advantage of the late Fall real estate market while everyone is shopping for the holidays.

        At this time of year, a brave few souls venture into the real estate market. This is a smart move as it slows as the real estate market usually cools down at the end of October. According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes drop about 30% between December and January and traditionally picks up in early Spring.

give yourself the gift of a new home this holiday season
Gift yourself a new home this holiday season!

Give yourself a new home in time for the holidays!       

Holiday home buyers are serious about buying, and doing it quickly, visiting available open houses while others are off at the mall. For sellers, the holidays can be profitable. There is no better time to show a house than when a tasteful Christmas tree, wreath, and sparkling lights make a house feel like a potential buyer’s future home.

If you’re selling during the  holidays, take this advice from staging experts:

        * Keep it simple. Take down personal pictures. Put up Christmas decorations that include a tree, a wreath, and a few strands of lights outside. Place a few nicely wrapped presents under the tree.

        * Play holiday music softly. Display potted evergreens in place of potted flowers.

         * Some sellers even place photos or a scrapbook of the home during the summer.

The late fall holiday season is a great time to look for your new home

For buyers there is less competition from others, so they have a good negotiating position with sellers who want to move quickly. If a buyer finds a house during the holidays, it is possible that he or she will be able to come to an agreement with the seller to accommodate cherished holiday plans.

Marcia Clarke is an NYS licensed Real Estate Broker. She is the Owner and Broker of M C Realty Consulting & Management, Inc., located at 1431 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11226.

You can reach her by telephone at 718-484-8582, or by email at mcre484@aol.com.

You can reach Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., a.k.a. BrooklynCovered at 718-489-2218 or by email at info@greavesinsurance.com. He stands ready to assist you with your personal insurance needs. 

You can also sign up for Eustace’s mailing list at https://greavesinsurance.com.

Don’t Add Your Tears to Water Losses At Home

Back in August, I read two articles in The City newsletter titled “NYC Denies Every Financial Claim for Hurricane Ida Flooding,” and “Ida Flood Homeowners Denied City Payouts Get Legal Options and Political Promises.”

You can find these articles at:




Why New York City doesn’t owe affected residents anything

Over 4,703 NYC homeowners who suffered losses caused by Rainstorm Ida in September 2021 recently received denial of claim letters from the New York City Comptroller’s office.

The letter to the affected homeowners cited a 1907 New York City precedent established in Holzhausen v. City of New York where the City of New York was found to be not liable for damages suffered by the plaintiff, because

“In deciding adversely to the claim of the plaintiffs for damages, it was held that `the duty of draining the streets and avenues of a city, or village, is one requiring the exercise of deliberation, judgment, and discretion. It cannot, in the nature of things, be so executed that in every single moment every square foot of the surface shall be perfectly protected against the consequences of water falling from the clouds upon it. The duty is * * * of a judicial nature, for it requires the qualities of deliberation and judgment. It admits of a choice of means and of the determination of the order of time in which improvements shall be made.'”

Holzhausen v. City of New York, 116 App. Div. 812, 814 (N.Y. App. Div. 1907)

This basically means, that the City of New York, or any municipality for that matter, can’t be responsible for protecting its citizenry against the vagaries of Mother Nature.

This isn’t the first time this happened

While I grieve with those affected by Rainstorm Ida, every NYC homeowner has two resources to mitigate losses caused by external floods and internal water and sewer line backups, and sump pump failures.

They are called Flood Insurance, a separate policy purchase, and Water and Sewer Backup, which is an endorsement to many homeowner policies.

What else can we do to prepare for flood and water damage?

When storing personal items in basements or ground-level first floors, use water plastic containers, placed at least one and one-half to two feet above floor level.

Do not rent illegal basement apartments. Number one, it’s against the law. Number two, when basements suddenly flood, as happened during rainstorm Ida, people drown in these basements because they lack proper sufficient and legal means of egress.

It never fails to amaze me how quickly we tend to revert to the “Save Me” syndrome when something out of the ordinary happens. And how quickly we fight and rail against government sanctions.

We don’t want to wear masks to fight the possibility of contracting Covid-19.

Many demand the right to not be vaccinated or get booster shots but want the doctors and hospitals to save our lives when we do.

Drivers and their passengers don’t wear their seatbelts and die or suffer severe injuries in car accidents, further burdening the hospitals and our families.

Otherwise sensible people decide to operate motor vehicles after drinking or medicinal smoking. And then bitch about the police stopping them, and administering a breathalyzer test which leads to their spending time in jail and losing their drivers license.

We walk our dogs off the leash and get upset when we’re sued when they bite someone.

We blast our music at ridiculous levels at all hours of the night. Then we get ticked off when the police come to your door in response to noise complaints.

We don’t attend Community Education Council meetings,  attend PTA meetings, join our child’s school School Leadership Team, or even attend “Meet the teacher night.” And then we wonder why Little Johnny or Jane can’t read at grade level by second grade.

Our local politicians and/or the Department of Environmental Protection aren’t taken to task to demand regular cleanouts of every sewer trap in our communities.

Leaves we don’t rake up and dispose of clog those same sewer traps.

Since most people never consider their own mortality or morbidity, they don’t purchase life and disability insurance to replace income lost when death or disability strikes. But we want everyone to contribute to a Go Fund Me campaign to help bury us and help our family keep the house.

So, the next time you want to vote for a politician who says there is no such thing as climate change, or who says “Big Government wants to burden you with unnecessary laws and ruin your life with increased wasteful taxes, take a minute to ask what will happen if the government doesn’t act on your behalf.

At the very least

And, at the very least, take ownership of the need to protect your home and belongings. Purchase a Flood Insurance policy and endorse your homeowner’s insurance policy with Water and Sewer, and Sump Pump failure coverage.

Municipal responsibilities for your losses may never change, but how you react and prepare for the effects of climate change will determine just how well you ride out the coming storms.

And they’re not just coming.

They are already here.

Insurance Credit Score Improvement Tips

Many of my clients are what I consider true insurance credit score improvement warriors.

How To Earn  A Great  Insurance Credit Score

While completing the homeowners insurance application for N.R.65, a new member of the Bridge Insurance Family, I asked her how she managed to obtain and maintain her sterling credit score.

N.R.65 said she pays her credit cards twice monthly.

“Twice each month?”

“Yes. Twice each month.”

“Please explain.”

Instead of paying the minimum payment each month, she doubles the payment. Then, she makes another payment of $60.00 or $70.00 whether she uses the card or not.

Her mantra? “My credit is so good,  it looks better than me!”

So here’s to N. R. 65, a true credit warrior!

Another Great Tip for Rapidly Lowering Credit Balances and Improving Your Insurance Credit Score.

My client, A. B. 22 does not make her credit card payments on the due date. She instead makes her monthly payment no later than two days before monthly interest is applied to her outstanding balance. So monthly interest is applied to a lower balance, hastening how quickly she pays off each credit card.

Her system really works. She’s quickly cut down her outstanding balances  using this method. And the balances fall even faster when you don’t use the cards for anything other than an emergency.

“Where do you find this interest due date” I asked.

“It’s on your monthly statement. The same monthly statement too many people tend to ignore until the last minute.”

“I looked around my apartment,” she said, “and saw books I purchased and never read. Blouses I thought I couldn’t live without still in the original wrapping with the sales tag still attached. In several cases, two or three years after I brought them home.  Money wasted. Money which should have been applied to paying off credit card balances. Better still, not creating new balances or adding to existing balances.”

The Beat The Interest Payment Due Date Worksheet

I asked how she keeps up with every credit cards’ monthly interest date. She said she devised a  “Beat The Interest Payment Due Date Worksheet.” She created a simple grid on a page in an inexpensive marble composition book she bought at an office supply store.

Along the X-axis, she enters the names of each card in date order and the date the payment must reach each bank. She also enters the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for each card in each box. This keeps her aware of just how much she is paying to for the use of the credit card companies’ money.

Along the Y-axis at the top of the page, she creates a column for each month where she enters every monthly payment she makes for each card. Following each payment is the date she actually made the payment. She does this to remain honest to her system.

Did The System Work?

“Two years ago, I owed about $25,000 in credit card debt. Now I’m down to just over $10,000. And I raised my insurance credit score from poor to good.”

A good insurance credit will save you money in many ways
What will your credit score do for you?






This future homeowner is well on her way to owning her own home because she lowered her credit utilization and improved her savings.

Why Does A Good Insurance Credit Score Matter?

Your credit score is a reflection of how well or how poorly you handle your finances. You don’t have to adopt miserly ways to attain a good credit score. It’s simple really. A bad credit score will cost you more money for mortgages, automobiles, and many forms of insurance.

When you are purchasing home, renters, co-op, condo, or auto insurance, your premium depends on many factors. In my experience, one of the most important is your insurance credit score.

An excellent or good score will yield the lowest premiums. A fair or poor score will saddle you with higher premiums. For example, with a fair or poor score, you can wind up paying at least 50% more in premium than someone with an excellent or good score.

There are no quick fixes to improving your insurance credit score. Insurance companies go back five years into your credit history. Important factors are your payment history, length of credit, delinquencies and credit utilization.

What’s Credit Utilization?

Just imagine your total lines of credit come to say $25,000. If you use $15,000 of your credit lines, you have a 60% credit utilization.

To get a great credit score, you shouldn’t have a credit utilization percentage of more than 19%. Anything higher and your insurance credit score will begin to drop.

Any Other Good News?

Try to avoid any of the insurance credit no-no’s on your credit record during the past five years.

There are five of them and they are:

  1. Judgements
  2. Foreclosures
  3. Liens
  4. Repossessions
  5. Bankruptcies, whether in, coming out, or beginning one.One or any combination of these will result in a much lower insurance credit score, with higher premiums.

When I Start To Work On Improving My Credit?

There’s no time like the present. Do a little each day and watch your credit score soar to new heights.

About the author

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with 40 years of experience. He is celebrating 25 years as an Independent Insurance Agency Owner.

Like to speak with Eustace?

Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs. He can be reached at 718-489-2218, or by email at infogreavesinsurance.com. You can also contact him by going to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

How to subscribe to “Never Knew News” newsletter

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Never Knew News,” go to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just email him at eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”


Funny T-Shirt | BrooklynCovered

You will find a funny t-shirt in the weirdest places.

So, out of the blue, for the first time ever, I received a catalog from a firm named “The Best of Collections, Etc.”
At first, I thought someone was coming after me for the money I owed them.
Well, turns out it is one of those sales catalogs which resembles the old Fingerhut catalogs. Folksy, cute, and once directed to a different demographic.
Well, being a marketer always on the lookout for new ideas, I took a few minutes to skim through the magazine.

Everything seemed normal until page 81

All of the offerings seemed rather normal, especially the “As seen on TV” offerings. Then, I turned to page 81 for some first-class belly laughs.

The first (and best) T-Shirt read,
“Roll roll roll your joint, twist it at the end, light it up and take a puff, then pass it to a friend.”
Now, I don’t condone the use of drugs, but come on, even Katt Williams may use that little ditty in one of his comedy concerts.
Called the lady who is going to produce my upcoming podcast and the first thing she said was, “That’s hilarious!”
Second thing? “You are not going to say that on the air!”
Hah. Wait’ll she reads this.
Some of my other favorites were:
“Don’t rush me! I’m waiting for the last minute!” and,
“I told my wife to embrace her mistakes. She hugged me.”
“Once in a while someone AMAZING comes along … and HERE I AM!”

Another good one would close with a bang

And one which should become another favorite of funeral directors everywhere, “Just before I die, I’m going to swallow a bag of popcorn kernels. MY CREMATION IS GOING TO BE EPIC!”
That one should be a warning to spouses everywhere – make sure there is enough life insurance for a regular burial.

Our last time?

The really funny thing about me receiving this catalog? In big, bold letters are the words, “Is This Goodbye? Unfortunately, postage and printing costs have increased, so shop today to continue receiving our great values. Place an order soon, or this could be your LAST CATALOG!”
Last catalog.

Funny thing is, this was the first time I ever received this catalog.

If it is to be the last one, at least I got a humorous blog post out of it.
Happy New Year everyone! May the year 2021 be filled with prosperity, joy, excellent health, and all the success you and those you love can handle!

About the author

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. He is celebrating 25 years as an Independent Insurance Agency Owner.

Like to speak with Eustace?

Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs. He can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

How to subscribe to his newsletter

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” go to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just email him at eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

25 Years and Counting

Picture this:

Brooklyn, October 20, 1995.

I walked out of the offices of the insurance company I dedicated 13 years of my life to, into an unknown, unplanned, unintended future.

Medical insurance: none.

No rate books.

Lacking a company structure and culture.

Truly my own boss.

Thankfully, fully licensed.

Used a part-time position at H and R Block to learn the income tax preparation business from the world leaders.

While preparing taxes, I gave each tax prep client who came to my desk my calendar, card, and a list of my insurance services.

Prospecting. And the plan worked.

Many of those wonderful folk are still clients to this day.

25th year Jubilee
25 Years and Counting!

Many of those years weren’t filled with Harvard Business Review successes, but we never missed a meal and always wore clean clothes. Went to more movies than I can remember. Even attended NY Liberty games, and the theatre at least twice each year.

Sadly, Ashley and I survived the loss of her mother in 2002, and later, three of her grandparents.

But along the way, we found Prep For Prep, which led to Poly Prep, which led to Yale, (Lord to I miss going to Yorkside Pizza and enjoying their Chicken Tenders!). Now Ashley enjoys a stage and TV screen career whose trajectory is ever skyward.

I am blessed with agency agreements with Travelers, Kingstone, and Progressive insurance companies, as well as Guardian, and Globe Life, just to name a few. 

Empire Safety Council named me a  Delivery Agent and Instructor in April of 2000. Can’t wait to write my tell-all about some of those wild classes. Especially the time a married couple made out in the bathroom during class! 

And through it all, I still wake up each and every day and feel blessed to say, “Thank you Lord for another day to serve the public with the greatest products in the world. Even when they think they won’t be burglarized, suffer a disability, have a house fire, or die.”

And guess what? In my mind, I’m just getting started, really ready to rock and roll as I share decades of accumulated knowledge and experiences with anyone willing to learn.

Many thanks to my many wonderful clients, the companies which believed in me, and in my mission, and most of all to my world-class, true-gift-from-God-even-though-she-sometimes-drives-me-beserk-daughter, Ashley.

Without you kiddo, I don’t think I would have made it this far.

Here’s to at least 50 more. So what if I’m just a little bit greedy. I think I deserve it.

Love to all, and again, thank you.

Eustace L Greaves Jr.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr. LUTCF has enjoyed a career in insurance, income tax preparation, investments, and defensive driving instruction spanning nearly 39 years. You can reach him at his office number, 718-783-2722, his cell at 917-783-7209, or via email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. Please visit his website, https://greavesinsurance.com  where you can subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use.”

If you are ever in New Haven, Connecticut, take some time to order a great meal (like their Chicken Tenders) from Yorkside Pizza Restaurant. They are located at 288 York Street, New Haven, CT, 06511. Their telephone number is 203-787-7471, and their website address is www.yorksidepizza.com. Enjoy!,

Automobile Insurance Policy Danger In The Details

automobile insurance policy
Good auto insurance is hard to beat!

Automobile Insurance Policy Details Are Fraught With Danger

I enjoyed a great conversation with a nice gentleman the other day. He’d been referred to me for an automobile insurance policy. He readily admitted his last automobile insurance company dropped him back on July 1, 2020, for having two (2) “incidences” during the past three (3) years.

He tried, without success,  to acquire new coverage for two (2) months prior to his prior company’s non-renewal date. After many tries, he simply couldn’t understand why no one would take him up as his one accident was not-at-fault and the other incident, a moving violation, resulted only in a ticket, no points.

I ran him through one of my preferred companies and discovered why no one wanted to take him.

How Automobile Insurance Policy Owners Put Themselves In Danger


Auto and home insurance are analogous to term life insurance. Basically your coverage, unlike whole or permanent life insurance, runs out after a certain number of years. If your policy allows the coverage to continue, the premium skyrockets to an amount that becomes untenable to maintain. So you wind up losing your “cheap” insurance, usually at the same time it is most important for your family’s financial well being.

In New York State, auto and home insurance companies write you policies with a term of three (3) years. So, if you maintain a good auto driving record, for example, renewal is a no-brainer. Too many “incidences” though, and renewal may come at a hefty price, or not at all.

So. several years ago you called one of those over-the-phone, direct-to-a licensed advisor automobile insurance companies and got a terrific rate.

You just weren’t aware it could have even been better.

You didn’t know your new policy contained a ticking time bomb.

So you contacted your independent agent or broker who’d been through hell, high water, and even a couple of claims with you, canceled your current policies, and moved to your new company.

Which Rating Factors Matter Most To Automobile Insurance Companies When You Want To Move Your Policy?

How long you’ve been licensed.

Your gender and age.

Your insurance credit score.

How many current moving violations (with some companies, during a period of as many as five (5) years) are on your record when you apply.

Policy lapses for non-payment of premium.

License suspension or revocation.

The length of time you were without auto insurance. Nowadays, the lack of a personally owned auto insurance policy for more than 30 days even if you didn’t actually own a vehicle, will disqualify you from getting insurance from many companies. 1

And Finally, The One Factor Most Consumers Know Nothing About

Few, if any, of the major preferred companies take new business coming from indemnity or non-standard insurance companies.  

And that is where your company placed your coverage. Its indemnity or non-standard insurance company. The nice person on the phone never suggested you could request quotes for their Preferred or Standard companies. Or, even if you didn’t qualify for those companies now, you weren’t advised to try again in six (6) or twelve (12) months.

For this reason, you’re basically stuck with your automobile insurance company.

Your Policy Is Emblazoned With An Automobile Insurance Scarlet Letter


For this reason, and this reason alone, I couldn’t offer this gentleman a quote from any of my preferred companies. So, I took the only choice open to me. I gave him a quote from the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP).  In many cases, the NYAIP is the last resort for those needing automobile insurance. 

The NYAIP quote? Close to $6,295 for one year, about $4,500 more than the quote I would have been able to get him from one of my preferred companies.

I called him back.

Told him the quote.

He said, “Forget it,” and hung up.

Why Do Some Automobile Insurance Companies Engage In These Practices?

Short answer? Got me. 

For many companies, the name of the game is increasing market share, no matter the immediate cost. So, if your profile permits, you will be placed into their Indemnity or Non-Standard company, offering you a competitive, lower premium just to get your business. Then as claims from other drivers in your Indemnity company roll in, your premium begins to increase. This increase will be imperceptible at first. Then one day, you will open your renewal envelope and receive the shock of your life. 

Even if your record is perfectly clean, when you begin calling other insurance companies to secure a lower-cost automobile insurance policy, your current indemnity policy status will prevent you from doing so.

What You Should Do Today

Find your automobile insurance policy and call the insurance company or agent. Ask whether you are in an Indemnity or Non-Standard automobile insurance company. If you are, request they requote your policy for either their preferred or standard company.

Now, when you want to switch companies, it won’t be the type of company preventing you from moving your coverage.


1. In my previous post “8 Tips To Save Money On Your Automobile Insurance, (https://brooklyncovered.com/8-tips-to-save-money-on-your-automobile-insurance/)”,  I wrote about the good old days when most auto insurance companies allowed you to go from one to up to three years owning a personal auto insurance policy without extra premiums or flat-out rejection. Some companies didn’t even factor in the lack of automobile insurance, as long as you didn’t own a car in your own name. In either case,  I suggested the purchase of a monthly zip car membership where your membership automatically provided you with liability insurance coverage. This removed the necessity of maintaining a non-owned auto insurance policy. Thus, when you decided to purchase your own vehicle, the money you’d spent on the zip car membership:

Wound up saving you money on your new auto insurance policy as you’d been continuously insured, and,

Enabled you to qualify for a better or preferred company in an insurance company’s member companies. 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs, and can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to his website and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” go to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just send him an email to eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

What is a Loan Estimate?

graphic of a one-family house that speaks to the need for a home mortgage
Home is where the heart is.

What is a Loan Estimate?

Recently, a client asked me the following question:

“It has been years since I took out a mortgage. I notice that instead of the old Good Faith Estimate, I am getting a Loan Estimate. What is a Loan Estimate? Are they the same thing?”

When It’s Out of Your Comfort Zone, Seek Help

I am comfortable and qualified to questions concerning life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, co-op, and condominium insurance. I don’t possess the same knowledge levels about mortgages. So, I reached out to three of the top home mortgage lenders I know for their insights about the new Loan Estimate form.

Somehow, I know this will cost me big time down the road.

My Panel of Experts Answer The Question of “What Is A Loan Estimate?”


Ennell Esperance, a Senior Home Lending Advisor (NMLS ID: 68006) with the Home Lending Division of JPMorgan Chase Bank, provided me with some recent history about this topic.

In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency that regulates consumer financial instruments such as mortgages, retired the Good Faith Estimate form (in part) and created the Loan Estimate form.

On the Good Faith Estimate form,  lenders used their own language to describe the loans. Multiple estimates could seem very different. Consumers were confused by that document.

How Does The Loan Estimate Work?


The new Loan Estimate consolidates four forms into two: the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure.

The new Loan Estimate is a three-page form that you receive within three business days after you apply. It is not a loan approval or rejection. It simply gives you loan terms, projected payments, and closing costs for review.

Standardized Wording in The Loan Estimate

Leon T. Gelzer, Sr., (NMLS ID: 41256), is a Santander Bank Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) officer and Community Mortgage Development Loan Officer. He described how the Loan Estimate standardizes the wording that lenders can use. You’ll see which costs are fixed and which are not, allowing you to shop lenders.

Leon went on to say it also prevents surprise fees by establishing tolerance levels. If you do take the loan and the fee amount estimated is more than the amount paid, the lender makes up the difference.

I would imagine every mortgage lender does their best to avoid this reality.

How Loan Estimate Costs Are Broken Down

Peter Chace, a Mortgage Loan Officer (NMLS ID: 206181), with TD Bank directed me to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s website to view samples of the Loan Costs and Closing Disclosure forms (Click Here to go to the CFPB website) and highlighted how costs are also broken down in the following categories:

  • Loan Costs (origination charges, services you can’t shop for and services you can shop for) and Other Costs (taxes, government recording fees, pre-paid fees, and initial escrow payments, for example).

  • Closing Disclosure
    The Closing Disclosure is a five-page form that buyers receive before closing. It has the final terms and costs associated with the mortgage and specifies the amount of money you need on-hand at closing. Buyers can easily compare the Loan Estimate to the Closing Disclosure. Buyers will have three (3) days to review the form and ask questions.

I want to thank these gentlemen for being so generous in sharing their time with me, and ultimately, you.

Let’s Thank Our Experts

Here is the contact information you’ll need to reach of our experts who contributed:

Ennell Esperance can be reached by telephone at
718-810-7680, and by email at ennell.esperance@chase.com;
Leon T. Gelzer, Sr.’s office number is 718-302-5418. Leon’s email address is leon.gelzer@santander.us.
Peter Chace can be reached by telephone at 917-715-2818. Peter’s email address is Peter.chace@td.com.

You can also find a copy of the full Loan Estimator, with completed samples in English and Spanish at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/policy-compliance/guidance/mortgage-resources/tila-respa-integrated-disclosures/forms-samples/

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs, and can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to https://greavesinsurance.com and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” just to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just send him an email to eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

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