Insuring your property |

Insuring your property

I sat down with local State Farm Insurance Agent Brian Hollister last week to talk about the world of home insurance. After a summer of particularly nasty fires in Northern California and a potentially hazardous autumn fire season, I thought this would be a rather timely conversation.

Q. How much fire insurance is enough?

A. You’ll need enough homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your home, as well as replacing its’ contents. After wildfires tore through Southern California in 2007, three out of four homeowners surveyed said they were underinsured, and by an average of $240,000. How much insurance to carry depends on a lot of factors. It costs roughly $200 to $300 a square foot to build a new house in Nevada County. Your insurance agent can assist you in determining how much fire insurance is enough, but it’s a good idea to do some research on your own too. I advise clients to check in with their contractor to find out what prices are running per square foot in our county. Your home might have special features that are more costly and should be taken into consideration when looking at building costs. When there is a fire in progress in your area, many companies will put a moratorium on increasing coverage or new coverage so it’s best to review your policy on an annual basis and not wait until there is a local disaster. If you’ve had your home insurance for more than three years, you should meet with your agent to review and make sure you are properly covered. Chances are your replacement cost is based on an outdated figure.

Q. Is it important to use a local agent?

A. A local agent gets to know you and can make recommendations about how to tailor the policy to your needs. In the event of a claim a local agent can assist you with referrals for service providers for repairs. They can physically see your home to know what it is that is being covered. A local agent can be a better advocate for you should there be a claim because they are here to see what the damages are. Throughout my career I’ve experienced situations where I’ve helped people resolve their claims more efficiently and help them if they had disputes with claims agents. I always go out to see the homes in person, meet the clients and evaluate what their needs are for all of their insurance. It’s providing a service to the client that’s invaluable and only a local agent can provide that level of excellence.

Q. Does it cost less to bundle my home and auto policies?

A. It’s very cost effective to place your home insurance and auto insurance with the same company. In fact I would go so far as to say these days, it is almost ridiculous not to do that for cost savings, which can be as much as 20% off each policy. That’s huge savings.

In closing, in selecting an insurance company it’s important to choose an “A” rated company. You can check with Moody’s ( Standard and Poors ( which are amongst the rating companies. You want to make sure that your insurance company has the financial resources to cover a major fire in our community. And again, I can’t stress enough, use a local agent. If a disaster happens, you’ll appreciate having someone here who is your advocate.

Susan Costello is owner of Home Sweet Home Loans. You can reach her at (530) 273-8658. You can reach State Farm Insurance Agent Brian Hollister at (530) 274-3802.

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