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Looks like we’re doing something right!

I may have previously mentioned that I work in Personal Lines.  What does that mean?  Auto, Home, Flood, Umbrella, Personal Articles…That kind of stuff.

So today, there’s an article on CNN.com about homeowner’s insurance.

And ALL the suggestions they give to the average homeowner, are things we do EVERY year on renewal for EVERY one of our clients.

Here are some of the things we’re looking at:

  • Insurance to Value:  The dwelling coverage is going to be your most important coverage.  Its what rebuilds your ENTIRE house if something horrible happens.  So, clearly we want to make sure that there’s ENOUGH coverage.  However, this amount is not the market value of your home.  Those numbers fluctuate yearly, and they include the value of any land, which is not covered by homeowner’s insurance.

A good general rule of thumb is to take the square footage of your home, and multiply that by $200 to $250 depending on the quality of construction and the construction costs in your area.

  • Replacement Cost:  This is an endorsement on the homeowners policy that allows your dwelling and/or contents to be insured with no depreciation.  That means in the event of a loss you will be entitled to a replacement of like kind or quality.  
Why is that important?  Who wants to get half the value of a new couch, stove, refrigerator, etc?  These items are not inexpensive, and if you have a nice one and it is damaged, I’m sure you’d want an equally nice replacement.
  • Deductible:  In general on a home policy we encourage our clients to take a $2,500 deductible.  Some people want higher ones, some lower.  The rule of thumb is, you want it to be as high as you are comfortable with.  Higher deductible = lower premium.  But remember, if there’s a loss, You pay the deductible before the insurance company pays anything else.
Many companies are changing windstorm and/or hurricane deductibles to percentages.  This represents a much higher responsibility for the homeowner in the event of a loss due to windstorm or hurricane.  Check with your company to determine what constitutes a windstorm and what category hurricane would apply to you.  And be prepared!  Open a bank account with 3% to 5% of your dwelling limit saved.  For many people, that amount is tens of thousands of dollars.  If your house is on the ground, that won’t be the time to wonder where you’re getting the money.
  • Package your policy:  Keeping your home, auto, personal articles and umbrella all with the same company could wind up saving a few hundred dollars a year on insurance premiums.  Many companies offer account credits to encourage you to keep your business with them.

For the insurance industry, it’s often not so much about writing new business, but about keeping business.  Retention is key.

  • Know your coverage:  At least once every three years, make an appointment with your agent to review your policy.  Ask about exclusions (what’s not covered), special limits (extra coverage) and what to do in the event of a claim. Then, go home and take inventory!  uphelp.org has a great worksheet.  Or you can video tape a walkthrough of your home.  Take that information and put it in a safe deposit box.  This way, if something awful happens, the inventory is safe and you know exactly what you’re claiming.  Pay special attention to large and expensive items, keep those receipts and make sure there aren’t special limits on those items.  (Jewelry, furs, musical instruments are limited on a regular homeowner’s policy.)

I know all you see on TV these days are commercials for “save this” and reduce that, but the bottom line is, nobody knows what you need more than you do, and nobody can help you insure your needs, your life and your family like an Agent can.  Consider visiting your local Trusted Choice agency.  Or call mine.

718-386-5050

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