Getting a home insurance quote can be challenging — or even daunting — due to the dynamic nature of property conditions, the need for inspections, and the potential for unforeseen issues.
That’s where a local insurance agent can make all the difference.
Effective communication between the agent and the homeowner, along with transparency about potential discounts and property maintenance considerations, is crucial to navigating a path to a comprehensive and cost-effective policy.
When shopping for the right rates and coverage, cost isn’t the only factor to consider. Rockville Centre Insurance Agent, Alex Anderson said to view the home as an insurance company would — for example, paying attention to the age of the roof, if modern safety standards are met, and whether trees or other hazards threaten the integrity of the property.
"When they find better rates, sometimes people get so excited, they just want to jump on it for any relief,” Anderson said. “The question often is: Do I just pay for the policy and I'm done? Or are there any other considerations I need to make?"
It’s a tough market, Anderson said and homeowners should know their homes well and understand that inspections are often a critical part of the process of obtaining home insurance coverage.
"Most insurance companies, at least in a tougher market, are going to do an exterior inspection of the house at a minimum, and some will go inside as well... They want to make sure that the characteristics of the house, the size of the house, and really the replacement costs that we're writing policy with are close to what actually exists."
The inspection process can reveal how time, weather, and renovations have caused potential hazards that require repair before insurance coverage can commence.
"They want to make sure certain things are in good condition,” Anderson said. “They want to make sure there's no missing shingles, no loose or lifting or buckling curling shingles.”
This is where a qualified, accessible, hometown insurance agent can help navigate the process of addressing potentially unforeseen hazards.
What happens if there are issues discovered by the insurance company during the inspection process? Anderson is dedicated to helping his clients navigate the process — which often varies by company.
"Oftentimes what will happen is that they'll want a licensed contractor to do the work and take pictures showing that the work is done, and then your agent will submit them to the company,” Anderson said. “If it's a “hard” recommendation and they're willing to keep the policy if you comply, they'll want a proof of work — a picture, invoice or receipt on letterhead is typically sufficient," Anderson said.
On the flip side, if your home has made recent or semi-recent, such as a roof, that is an opportunity for savings.
"If you do have a new roof within the last 10 years, you could also be getting a discount and you should ask your agent if you qualify for a discount. If you’re shopping for a new policy, be sure to let them know about your updated roof!,” Anderson said.
Not only can homeowners save on their insurance premiums, but Tiffany Balanoff, realtor at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, said maintaining your home with consistent updates to your home is very advantageous when looking to sell (and neighborly too!).
“Something like a new roof is not only preventative maintenance; it’s also taking pride in homeownership,” she said. “This will absolutely work in your favor if you sell your house. Your roof is like the helmet of your house. A prospective buyer is going to be excited that you took care of a big-ticket item.”
The expertise of a trusted, local insurance agent helps homeowners answer questions they didn’t know to ask, for things like oof updates, locked gate access to swimming pools, and safety handrails on patio steps. Gaps in understanding your insurance policy can lead to costly repairs and frustration down the line.
“Insurance is not as transactional as people think. It’s more of a long-term relationship; there’s trust involved in dealing with the same company and agent for years,” Anderson said. “Setting the expectations up front builds a good rapport.”