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Assessing Your Homeowners Insurance Coverage: An Interview with Mark Capes of Statewide Insurance

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Statewide Insurance is a family owned and operated independent insurance agency located in Central Florida. We opened our office in 2005 and have been one of the fastest growing agencies in our area. Statewide Insurance offers all types of personal and commercial insurance products throughout the state of Florida. Our specialty is homeowners insurance. We review the rates and coverages of the top rated companies in Florida and provide personalized services to help our clients choose the best policy.

Please briefly explain what homeowners insurance is and why it's important to stay current with it.

Many consumers look at homeowners insurance as a necessary evil, something their lender requires to satisfy their mortgage. After being in this industry for over 15 years and having filed a homeowners claim myself, I can tell you this an invaluable coverage when you need it. Think about having your home damaged by a fire, storm, or even a water pipe breaking. Any of these claims could cause you to be displaced for several weeks or months. Consumers generally understand that their homeowners insurance would pay to repair these types of damages, but most policies will also pay your additional living expenses while repairs are being made to your home. It's also important to have adequate liability coverage on your policy. This protects you and your assets in the event you are sued by someone who has been injured on your property. Be sure to review your coverage carefully with your agent about once a year and anytime you make changes to your home, be sure to notify your agent so that the policy can be updated.

What are some of the advantages of working with a local agent rather than a large online insurer?

One word: Flexibility. I have worked for captive insurance companies in the past and I can honestly say, I wouldn't go back. A captive company does not allow you to partner with any other insurance companies. You have one choice and one choice only. An independent insurance agency can have access to 20 - 100+ companies. If a company has a drastic rate increase or if they decide to reduce coverage, we just go shopping with our other carriers. An independent agent gets to know their client. You're not calling into some big call center hoping to get a nice service person who is knowledgeable and helpful. When you call a local independent agent, you might be talking to the owner of the agency or someone who is experienced and familiar with you and your account. As a local independent agent, it is vital to our survival that we build long term relationships with our clients. That's just not the case with some big online call center.

What are the basic deductible choices and how should homeowners decide on the right amount?

Most homeowners insurance policies have 2 separate deductibles. One for hurricane losses and one for all other losses. The standard hurricane deductibles are $500, $1,000, or 2%, 5% and 10% of the dwelling amount. For example, if your home is insured for $100,000 and you have a 5% hurricane deductible, you would have to pay the first $5,000 of any covered claim and the insurance carrier would pay the rest. The "all other peril" deductible could be as low as $500 and some carriers offer up to $10,000. Some people are more comfortable having a lower deductible in the event of a claim, but you will also pay more money to carry that lower deductible. Consider this; Let's say it saves you $250 a year if you choose a $1,000 deductible instead of a $500 deductible. It wouldn't make any sense to pay an extra $250 per year to save $500 on your deductible in the event of a claim, right? Get your agent to quote multiple deductible options to see if increasing the deductible is worth the savings. The other question I ask my clients is, "If we write this with a $500 deductible and you have a loss that costs $700, would you file a claim for a $200 payout?" If the answer is no, there is no sense in paying the additional premium for the $500 deductible. Save your money and go with the $1,000 deductible.

Do most property protection policies include dwelling, other structures and personal property?

Most do. A couple of things to look out for here. If you have other structures on your property, such as a fence, shed, or even a pool that is not attached to your home, you will want to make sure you have adequate coverage for other structures. As for your personal property (if you turn your house upside down, anything that falls out is personal property), you want to find out if your policy will cover the full replacement cost of those items or if the policy would depreciate all of the items and pay you out based on that depreciated value in the event of a loss.

What home insurance coverage tips do you have for people in the Florida area who may have a limited budget?

The biggest discount available now is wind mitigation credits. Building and roof codes have changed since 2002. If your home was built after 2002 you may already receive these credits. What many people don't know is, if you had your roof replaced after 2002 you can also apply for these discounts on your homeowners insurance. You will need to have a "wind mitigation inspection" completed by a licensed inspector and provide a copy to your agent. Other discounts are being applied by some companies for good credit, homeowners over 55, retirees, AAA or AARP members, living in a gated or single entry community, having a fire hydrant within 1,000 feet and a fire department within 5 miles, and certain roof designs.

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

Statewide Insurance can be reached toll free at 888-WAY2INSURE (929-2467).

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