Professional Advice for Home Insurance Shoppers: An Interview with Paula Beers of Wilson, Washburn and Forster Insurance

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

Founded in 1961, Wilson, Washburn and Forster Insurance is a full service property and casualty insurance agency. Agency principals have over 60 years combined experience. Customer service reps and support staff have an average agency tenure of almost 20 years. Ongoing training and education keep us at the top of our industry.

What should I research about my new house before I start shopping? (ie. age of electrical, energy efficient additions, etc.)
There are several things that can affect your ability to purchase insurance with a reputable carrier and that will affect your insurance costs. The age and shape of your roof is a key factor. For example, hip shaped roofs (4 slopes) perform better in windstorms than gable roofs (2 slopes).

Any home over 30 years will have to have a 4 point inspection reflecting updates to the roof, electrical, and HVAC/plumbing or your coverage options will be more limited and more expensive. The construction of your home can also be a factor. It’s a good idea to have a discussion with your agent about the various things you may need to consider in researching your new home as there will be questions you will have to answer to obtain insurance which is almost always required to secure financing.

Can the location of my home affect my insurance costs?
Absolutely. Purchasing a home less than 3 miles from coastal waters severely limits your coverage options. In this area (South Florida), anything east of I-95 or US 1 tends to be rated higher due to the wind exposure.

What does it mean to make sure I insure my home to “replacement value”?
Many people think that replacement value is the same as market value. It isn’t. Replacement value means what it would cost to have the home rebuilt by a contractor. This doesn’t include the value of the land or the slab. The insurance companies use a replacement cost estimate or a 360 estimate which is based on the construction of the home and all of the additions, such as the type of flooring, fireplace, crown molding, garage, patios, etc. Some contractors have the ability to provide this type of estimate as well.

Is it worth it to get additional coverage for some of the valuable items in my home?
This is contents coverage. If you have fine arts or jewelry, silverware, furs, or other things of value, yes, because they are not general contents and the amount of coverage may be limited in your policy. This is something that you should definitely address with your insurance agent.

Can I save money on my monthly premium if I add certain safety features to my home?
Yes. It varies by carrier, but a monitored alarm system and certain windstorm mitigation features almost always gain credits. Other credits may be available as well. In addition, there are certain exclusions you should discuss such as animal exclusions, cage screens (pool enclosures), etc. It’s very important to discuss all of these things with your agent.

How can I ensure that I am working with the right home insurance provider that I trust?
We always recommend using an admitted market whenever you can. This means your carrier is backed by the Florida Guaranty Fund. Sometimes that isn’t an option. Whether you are using an admitted or non-admitted carrier, you always want a carrier with a good financial rating. Your agent should provide you with financial rating of your carrier and explain to you what that means.

What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?
You can contact us via email, phone, or fax. For homeowners insurance, contact Ana Alfonso at aalfonso@wwfins.com, by phone at 786-454-8390, or via fax at 786-363-6189. You can find out more about us at
http://www.wwfins.com.

– See more at: http://www.floridastatehomes.com/articles/professional-advice-for-home-insurance-shoppers

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