The fires keep burning, yet nobody’s learning...

By
Mortgage and Lending with Falcon Financial

House fire  For those of us that live in California, we're a magnet for wildfires the way mid-West trailer parks are tornado-targets.  We're used to it and accept it as a likely risk for where we live.

But has this acceptance turned to complacency?  You'd be surprised that in this day & age, people are still under-insured!  Year after fire-stricken year, our state spends its summer engulfed in flame and smoke.  You can't seem to turn on the news without some mention of a wildfire, or a control-burn that became, well, not-so-controlled.

You'd think with all the fire danger warnings and fire restrictions and news coverage and...and...and... that we'd all be very well-versed in how to protect our home against the almost imminent threat of fire.  There are countless articles dating back over the last DECADE about people being under-insured, yet every year, a new set of fire victims get the double-whammy of a burned down house and not enough insurance to replace everything.

Why is this?!  Have we become that much of an it-won't-happen-to-me society?  Does 'review homeowner's insurance policy' get lost amidst the more pressing to-dos on our list?  Or do that many people simply not realize they have inadequate insurance?

In some cases, it looks like many consumers may be putting too much trust in the "pro's".  When you consult an insurance agent, you likely assume that they know the business, it's what they do, they'll make sure you're covered...  right...??  Wrong.

salesman  As with any profession, not all insurance agents are created equal.  Some agents take the time to discuss all your options with you, based upon a detailed analysis of your situation.  They ask a myriad of questions and from there, provide you with sound, reliable advice.  But there are those that - due to laziness, dishonesty, inexperience or for whatever reason - take shortcuts, aren't thorough, and just want to quote you the cheapest rate so they can write your policy.  And really, how is a first-time homeowner's policy shopper supposed to know whether or not the agent has asked all the right questions?

In today's comparison-shopping world, many people focus on "getting the best deal", and companies know this.  Businesses everywhere utilize software that enables them to provide rate-shoppers with a "quick quote" to pacify the consumer's need for an answer NOW.  But in their rush to find the best deal, consumers aren't always pausing to find out what that "deal" includes or excludes.

In this eye-opening article by Elliot Spagat, he talks about the Marshall & Swift/Boeckh LLC "Quick Quote" software used by many insurance companies.  If the "Quick Quote" isn't taking into account your jaccuzzi tub, the custom kitchen cabinetry, the fireplaces in each bedroom suite or the hardwood floors throughout the home, chances are the coverages provided in that "Quick Quote" are WELL below what you really need. Any good insurance agent knows that this "Quick Quote" survey is just a guesstimate, and that a more detailed analysis of the home's features is needed to generate a more accurate policy.  However, several homeowners have obtained policies based solely on the generic information required to generate a "Quick Quote", only to find out the hard way that this has left them grossly under-insured - often by hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Hmmm... so much for landing that "best deal".

Insurance policy  What can you do to protect the home and belongings you've worked so hard for?  Start by determining if your home is underinsured.  Whip out that dusty, coffee-stained policy you have tucked away and look at your coverages.  Do you know what each item really means?  That's ok, don't be shy, a LOT of people don't - but this is no time to adopt the ignorance-is-bliss attitude!  So if you don't know, you might wanna learn before you burn!!

Here are three great articles/blogs to help you get started: "Is your home underinsured?  8 key points", "5-minute guide to home insurance" and "Home insurance - are you covered?".  There are home inventory checklists to help you make sure you've accounted for EVERTHING you would have to replace if you lost everything in a fire, as well as software programs you can utilize to guide you and take inventory.

Now that you've attained a better understanding of what all those coverages mean and what's included, and taken an inventory of EVERYTHING that would have to be rebuilt or replaced if your house goes down in flames, do you feel comfortable that your policy will cover it all?  Or do you think perhaps an appointment with your insurance agent is long overdue?  

Fire victim    Don't be a victim due to negligence!!  Fires are inevitable, and kudos to those of you that strive to make your home and property "fire safe".  But it's all for naught if you've neglected to properly insure your home.

Comments (1)

Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

You would think that I agent wants to make money selling you this additional coverage. Here the big to do was the lack of flood insurance for the folks in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago

Oct 02, 2009 07:15 AM