Scheduling a time to sit with your insurance agent once a year and review policies can help prepare a homeowner for unpredictable circumstances and provide added discounts. Questions on any changes being considered or made to the home should be mentioned at this time. It is a great time to review any claims that are reflected on the current policy, how long the incident will remain on the history, and if the claim has affected premiums.
Improvements that may result in discounts but can also vary amongst companies are:
- Metal roofs have longer lifespan.
- Hardy Plank siding due to its fire resistance.
- Brick Veneer and Stone Veneer can have a discount if covers more than 30% of home.
- Monitored alarm system helps minimize crime.
- Fire extinguisher or a CO2 monitor can be an added discount.
- Dead bolt doors and bars on windows, if home is in areas deemed to have high break-in rates.
- Travelers Insurance has a green home discount for energy efficient home.
“When I talk with the underwriters, I can give reasons why a specific person is lower risk. Homeowners jobs, credit, community involvement, child in honor role (grades), and volunteer fire fighter can make a difference in a policy,” says Emery Mitchamore III, independent insurance consultant, www.mitchamoreagency.com, office has over 10 years experience.
It is important to understand which and how many claims will affect rates on policies with the company covering your home. “Certain claims are worse than others. Liability claims will affect the premiums the most because of the unpredictability of the value,” explains Mitchamore. An example of these circumstances can be dog bites that can include an ambulance ride, surgery, plastic surgery, then pain & suffering.
“Most companies will allow 2 nature/weather claims in a 5 year period before they start to raise individual rates,” continues Mitchamore. An added benefit of a new roof may be lower rates. Most homeowners have a 1% deductible that will go toward the first part of the payment for repairs. Homeowners may want to make sure to go with a reputable contractor before calling insurance if not sure if damage is minor or a new roof is needed. This will avoid a zero dollar claim added to policy if expense is lower than out of pocket cost would have been. “Water damage is tricky because the repair needs documentation to ensure future claims will be paid to the value that’s needed. I always say that if your loss is more than two times your deductible then it’s a good claim,” says Emery Mitchamore III, preferred provider for wind storm and flood insurance.
When considering improvements, having a good relationship with your agent can make the difference in ensuring coverage in case of total loss to property. Mitchamore explains, “new appliances and counter tops need to be replaced in situations of total loss and no one wants to have to cut corners the second time they do the kitchen. Homeowners need to realize that it’s going to cost $15k just to clean the slab and remove debris. Suddenly, the $150,000 in coverage is now $130,000 and building the new home has to be started.”
By Monica Pena
Austin Times Staff