By Kylie Gilbert
In light of the hurricane and earthquake we’ve seen cause devastation to the United States in just the past two months alone, we thought it was important to get the scoop on homeowners insurance. We spoke with five different agents, Mike Coleman, Noah J. Bank, Hyacinth Tucker, David Flaig, and Billy Van Jura, all from various regions around the country, to get the scoop on homeowners insurance and how they think Lockboxer is a great tool to help you out.
Why is it smart to get homeowners insurance?
“A home is most folk’s biggest investment. It needs to be protected from the unexpected by homeowners insurance,” Coleman stated simply. Unfortunately, no one is immune to house fires, bursting pipes, or the damage from natural disasters, something countless Americans, including myself, witnessed this week after Hurricane Irene struck.
“Property loss happens every day to those who’ve said it will ‘never happen to me.’ Buying a policy makes smart financial sense to help lessen the expense of having to re-buy everything you already own,” said Bank.
Good news is, homeowners insurance is usually a requirement with a mortgage, at least in an amount adequate to cover the remainder of the mortgage loan, Coleman pointed out. Your policy should cover you for liability as well; something important in the “sue happy society” we live in, Flaig said. In his opinion, it is the liability aspect that’s the most important part of a homeowner’s policy, protecting the owner against a lawsuit.
What should someone look for in a policy?
According to Coleman, you should make sure you have adequate coverage to replace your home, as opposed to the depreciated value option. Flaig suggests simply finding the rebuilding estimate per square foot in your area and multiplying by the size of the home in order to make sure that your coverage is enough to pay for a complete rebuild.
But what else besides the basic coverage? Coleman recommends choosing a policy that extends the policy payout by about 20-25% if possible, as well as replacement cost coverage on your contents. However, valuing your contents isn’t always easy. You will likely be given a blanket amount of 70-75% of the dwelling value of the home, but if your home has collectibles, artwork, or other valuables, these would need to be accounted for separately, Van Jura explains.
In addition to the items in your home, Bank advises off-premise theft coverage for those who don’t travel light, or keep lots of valuables in their car. “It could be a costly jump in price, but may be worthwhile,” he says.
Not sure what to do about your deductible? Choose one that’s “high enough to keep your premium manageable, but not so high that it will put you in a financial bind should you have a claim,” says Coleman. And lastly, don’t forget to get enough liability coverage to cover your assets in our ever-litigious society!
What should someone look for in an agent?
Since your homeowner’s insurance policy is clearly one of the most important aspects of purchasing a home, the agent that helps you put together your policy is also critical. You want an agent that you can build a relationship with and someone who is willing to be accessible to answer all of your questions and address your needs, Tucker says.
Van Jura cautions against agents that don’t spend enough time getting to your customized solution. “If they have not asked you a few dozen questions in regards to the details of your home you should wonder where the figures are coming from,” he says. He suggests being on your guard when purchasing a home for the first time because your agent may assume you should just insure your home for the purchase price, clearly a big no-no.
“A good agent should be able to set the expectation for the customer and then live up to it,” says Flaig. While an agent generally can’t affect the outcome of a claim, they should be able to make sure that the claim is handled quickly and fairly, he explains.
Why do you like Lockboxer as a home inventory tool?
“I’ve dealt with clients who have suffered terrible home losses. One of the hardest things about it is valuing your contents for the claims personnel. Lockboxer is a great tool to use for that. I was very impressed,” Coleman said.
“Lockboxer is a great tool to determine the value of your belongings. It’s quick, easy to use, and has accurate information,” said Tucker.
“We always recommend taking inventory of the things our clients own, and Lockboxer makes that process even easier by showing the replacement cost in real time, and enabling you to add it, run totals and upload receipts! There’s no better way!” Bank said.
“Lockboxer seems to do a good job of aggregating a lot of information. Rather than combing multiple sites you can get a gauge of the used and new prices of the items you are looking to replace,” said Van Jura.
Thanks to all our contributors to this article: