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Home Insurance Facts You Need to Know: An Interview with Doug Wiles of Herbie Wiles Insurance

By Doug Wiles

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

Herbie Wiles Insurance was founded in St. Augustine in 1961. Today, we're one of the largest agencies in Northeast Florida providing insurance and risk management services for more than 9.000 families and businesses. We have a team of 30 friendly, service-oriented insurance professionals that provide advice and counsel as well as insurance protection from some of the most reputable insurance companies in Florida. Known as "The House That Trust Built," our office building is a local landmark.

In general, what should a homeowner have insured?

A homeowner's policy should not only adequately cover the home but the contents and personal property of the owner. There are a number of additional coverage items that most insurance companies automatically provide, such as coverage for a detached structure like a pool, separate garage, shed or fence, additional living expense to pay the cost of a rental home while repairs are being made to yours, and personal liability in case a friend or neighbor is injured in your home or on your property. This liability coverage will also respond if you inadvertently injure someone or damage property while away from your home.

Fortunately, much of what can happen to your home is conveniently included in a standard homeowner's policy. However, there are a few important coverages that require special attention. In some parts of Florida near the ocean or gulf, you may need a separate policy to cover the peril of windstorm to cover damage due to high winds like hurricanes and tropical storms. In addition, many parts of Florida are located in flood-prone areas. Flooding, or rising water, due to rain runoff or tidal surge is typically not covered under a standard homeowner's policy. A separate flood insurance policy is a must to be sure you're fully covered.

Homeowners' policies also have limitations for certain types of personal property and is often insufficient if you have jewelry, silverware, firearms, and antiques. Some companies can add coverage for these items or an agent can secure a separate "valuable items" policy.

Separate policies are available for the family car, motorcycle, boats, and off-road vehicles (ATV's). An umbrella/excess liability policy can fully protect assets in the case of an accident that is the fault of the homeowner.

How easy is it to combine these separate policies?

A few companies will combine coverage for a home, cars, boat and other items, but most do not. In Florida, there is presently at least one company that will add flood insurance to a homeowner's policy under limited circumstances. We recommend carefully choosing a local insurance agent who knows the area and will take the time to get to know you. Placing all your insurance policies with one agent makes it easy to periodically review your coverage and reporting a claim.

What are some factors that influence the rate on my home insurance policy?

Technology has allowed insurance companies to use many factors to develop homeowner's insurance premiums. The most important include the age, construction, and location of the home. A home on a paved road with a nearby fire hydrant and fire department will cost less to insure as will a home located away from the ocean or gulf. A newer roof and proactive measures to prevent wind/hurricane damage such as impact-resistant windows and extra bracing on garage doors can substantially reduce the cost of insurance. In Florida your credit score and past claim history can make a difference in the cost of insurance.

What are some common claim concerns that may arise with my policy?

Fortunately, claims don't happen often, but when they do it's important to promptly report it to your insurance agent or company. While we can't predict an accident or a claim, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier:

  • Conduct a home inventory so that you know what was in your home at the time of a loss. There may not be much left after a fire, hurricane, or flood. At least take pictures or make a video with narrative to help your memory. Be sure to store the inventory/pictures/video in a safe location outside the home.
  • We are more dependent on technology today than ever before, but most companies don't cover restoration of data. Be sure to back up your computers, including family pictures, and store them off site. There are services that will do this for you automatically and store the information securely "in the cloud."
  • Regularly review your policies with your agent to be sure you're properly covered. Lifestyles change and so do the things that are closest to us. An insurance review will help keep pace with your household improvements.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

We're ready to respond to requests by phone, fax, email, or online: www.HerbieWiles.com. Click on the icons for a convenient online quote. Call us at 904-829-2201 or through our toll-free number 800-997-1961. Fax: 904-829-2020. Email us at info@HerbieWiles.com

If you're planning to move to St. Johns County, we offer a free guide that lists contact information for a number of services, including telephone service, cable TV, pet registration, trash/recycle collection, and vehicle registration. Click on the "Getting Started in St. Johns County" link on our home page.

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About The Author

Doug Wiles presently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Florida...

Phone: 904-829-2201

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