There are a lot of unknowns in the world, and while you can't predict a freakish storm that knocks down trees and floods the streets, you can do your best to protect yourself and your home in the 'whats' and the 'ifs' of life.
When it comes to homeownership, we consulted local insurance expert, Paul Kent of Rush-Kent Insurance. He provided his insights into some insurance questions that every homeowner - and potential homeowner - should know:
· The top 3 insurance policies every homeowner should have
· When and why to check for gaps in coverage
· How much insurance is too much (or too little?)
We have had two damaging microbursts in Arlington within the past two years. Have you seen, or do you expect to see, a rise in requests for homeowners insurance as a result?
While most property owners already have insurance for their home, events like this serve to remind everyone of the importance of their coverage, and why it is important to review it periodically. I urge everyone to read their policy - I know it sounds crazy, but discovering a gap or inadequate coverage is better if it happens before a claim!
Are there any area-specific insurance policies that you recommend for people in town (i.e., flood insurance near Spy Pond? Extra coverage for older homes? Damage from snow-related incidents, etc.)
Many are not aware that flood, for example, is not covered by a homeowners policy. We recommend flood insurance to everyone because we can't predict what will happen. In some areas, flood insurance will be required by a mortgage lender due to a higher potential for flooding. Earthquake is another peril not automatically included in homeowners insurance - though this can be added to a homeowners policy for a small additional cost.
Older homes can present unique coverage issues depending upon the amount of updating they have undergone. Adequate coverage for additional repair or rebuilding costs due to code upgrades is important.
Winter weather can result in costly damage - for example, ice dams. While homeowners policies do normally cover this damage, our agency can provide information about preventing them.
What are some important insurance tips for people moving to a new home?
First time homebuyers have an opportunity to review the available coverage options and become educated about proper coverage. It is helpful to complete a home inventory (available on our website www.rushkent.com) to establish the proper amount of coverage for your personal property.
If the new home will undergo repairs or renovation before you move in, be sure to communicate with your agent or insurer so that proper coverage is in place during this time. If someone is selling one house and buying another, it is also a good time to complete a personal property inventory and review current coverage, there may be items that are no longer owned (jewelry, silver, for example).
Be sure to communicate with your agent or insurer about the transition process from one home to another so that no gap in coverage results. For example, if personal property will be in storage between a sale and purchase, you would most likely want it covered.
What are the top three insurance policies every homeowner should have?
1. Homeowners policy - this is a package policy combining coverage for the home and other structures; personal property; additional living expense and personal liability.
2. Personal Umbrella Liability policy - this policy provides extra protection for the homeowner in addition to the liability coverage in their homeowners policy. It will also provide extra liability coverage for their cars, boats, or recreational vehicles. Policies are available in increments of $1 million and premiums are inexpensive.
3. Disability Income insurance - this is to cover the biggest asset every homeowner has - their ability to earn an income! Life insurance is also important, especially for young homeowners - low-cost policies are easily obtained.
Does it help to have a home security system or new windows and doors? What other features can lower insurance costs?
Home security systems (especially if monitored by an alarm company) can result in savings. New windows and doors, while helping with efficiency and energy-related costs don't specifically result in lower insurance premiums. An updated home is viewed more favorably by insurers, and discounts are available for newly-built homes. Some other discounts include: smoke detectors, non-smokers, mature homeowners, electronic delivery of policy documents ("green discount"), account credit - for combining your house and car insurance, optional higher deductibles and others!
Is it better to have a lower payment and a higher deductible verses having a lower and perhaps more affordable deductible?
The typical homeowners policy deductible is $500. We recommend a $1,000 deductible - this results in a substantial savings while not subjecting the homeowner to too much out of pocket expense when a claim is made.
How do you address the age-old question: how much insurance is enough? How much is too much?
When it comes to coverage for a house - it's much easier to quantify what it would take to replace it. We utilize continuously updated replacement cost estimating software to assist with this. If the question relates to liability coverage, no amount is too much! I recommend as much coverage/protection as one can afford.
When does it make sense to combine your insurance policies?
Thanks to generous account credits from insurers, it makes sense to combine your policies and achieve cost savings.
How much of your business is referral based or word-of-mouth?
We rely on area professionals such as Bowes Real Estate, as well as accountants, attorneys and our clients for referrals. I am amazed at how many families remain customers through generations!
Why is it so important to use an independent insurance agency?
As a Trusted Choice Independent Agent, we offer our clients a choice of coverage as well as insurance companies to meet their needs. We don't work for the insurance company, we work for our clients. No single client has the same coverage needs, and we are able to provide a range of solutions from many companies. We offer local service right here at our office in Arlington.