Pennsylvania Logo

Back

Tips for Home Insurance Shoppers

By Kathy Haney

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Haney Associates, Inc. was founded in 1989. We are an independent insurance agency representing over 20 companies. We offer Pennsylvania automobile, homeowners, business insurance, life and health insurance. We moved from Bucks County to the Lehigh Valley 9 years ago and are a mainstay in the Emmaus community and the Lehigh Valley. We are also licensed in Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

We are committed to providing client-focused insurance service and promise that we will always provide the best coverage at the most competitive price. Our goal is to maintain enduring relationships with our clients. We recognize that each client is unique. As such, our staff listens to your needs and expertly advises you on the appropriate course of action for your specific goals.

What facts should I gather about my new house before I start shopping? (ie. age of electrical, energy efficient additions, etc)

A new homeowner should find out the updates (and types, of course) of all the systems in the home (electrical, wiring, plumbing, roof and heat); if there have been prior claims on the home (and what type) and if the home is in a flood zone. These are of course in addition to the items that the new homeowner would already know (square footage, etc).

How can the location of my home affect my insurance costs?

The location of the home can greatly affect the premium. Some properties even in PA require a flood policy. This may be a mortgagee requirement if the home is located in a flood zone. If the home is located in a flood zone, a separate flood policy is required. Another example of how the location of the home can affect the premium, would be the distance the home is to the fire department and a fire hydrant. To obtain an optimal premium, the home should be within 5 miles of the fire department and a hydrant within 1,000 feet of the home. In addition, the territory (zip code of the home) will affect the cost, based on company experience (claims) within certain territories. Rates are filed by each company, by territory with the PA Insurance Department.

How do I make sure I am not underinsured? What does it mean to make sure I insure my home to "replacement value"?

Your insurance agent can assess whether your home is under or over-insured. By completing a simple survey with a client, we can easily assess if a home is either over or under insured. An underinsured home may be a problem in the event a claim occurs. An over-insured home means the homeowner is overpaying in premium.

By reviewing items such as the square footage, age of the building, construction (brick or frame), number of bathrooms, construction quality of the home (builder grade, custom or designer), floor coverings, wall coverings and other items relevant to the home characteristics, we are able to determine the replacement value of the home. Many companies prefer to insure home to their "replacement value". The market value can be significantly different than the replacement value. The market value is dictated on current market conditions (sales, comps in the neighborhood, etc); the replacement value does not include the land and is the value to replace the "bricks and sticks" based on the current market conditions in the area (material and labor). In order for your home to be insured for the full value, the home needs to be insured for the "replacement value".

In your personal opinion, is it worth it to get additional coverage for some of the valuable items in my home?

Absolutely. Coverage for items such as jewelry, fine arts, furs and guns are limited under an unendorsed home policy. By endorsing (adding) items such as these, a homeowner can know they are insured properly ? often coverage is provided on an "all risk" basis for these items when added. This means that it is not only covered for fire, theft, etc, but also covered for "mysterious disappearance" (a stone is missing from a ring, a ring goes down the drain, etc). Sometimes an appraisal is required and sometimes not. You should check your individual policy to see if these items are covered, how they are covered and if there is a deductible (often there is no deductible if endorsed).

Can I save money on my monthly premium if I add certain safety features to my home?

Insurance companies offer additional credits for a central station fire and burglar alarm. A client can save money by "bundling" their auto and homeowners policies with the same company too. If you are interested in saving additional money on your premium, consider a higher deductible. Some companies offer credits for "green" upgrades.

How can I ensure that I am working with a home insurance provider that I trust?

An insurance agent should always be able to provide you with a formal, written quote. Referrals and positive word-of-mouth is always great. Check the agency website for client endorsements. For a home, the policy should always provide replacement cost of dwelling and contents. Always try to have the policy written by an "A-rated" company (by AM Best). The agent should be able to provide you with information on the companies' rating. Talk to the agent. If you feel there is a connection and everything else (above) checks out, you are probably working with a trustworthy agent. Listen to your intuition. If it doesn't feel right, it's probably not!

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

You can email us at info@HaneyAssociates.com or give us a call: 610-965-0425.

We are open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 to 5:00 and Friday from 9:00 to 3:00. Weekend and evening appointments are available.

Share this:

Comments

Leave a comment:

* Login in order to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join for Free