Q&A: Avoid Being Under Insured in Your Home

CTLN

Hilda Porrata-Doria

CTLatinoNews.com spoke with Hilda Porrata-Doria, a New Haven State Farm agent, about making sure a home is properly insured.
Q. Statistics demonstrate that many Latino homeowners don’t have enough insurance when it comes to their homes. Is there an easy way to determine if you have the right insurance?
A. An appraisal is most often the best tool an insurance agent can use to determine a starting point to ensure they are evaluating the true approximate cost of replacing a structure. Too often, people think the market price dictates the value it should be insured for; however, market value usually includes some land value. Homeowner’s insurance is not meant to insure the land on which a property sits.
Q. How often should homeowners review their policies? Every year? When their homes go through reevaluation?
A. Ideally, every year or two. People’s circumstances are continually changing. Many of these changes may trigger the need to make important changes to our policies- the value of our assets, marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, death, etc. If people are proactive in taking the time to review their personal situation, and develop a relationship with their insurance professional, they can experience the assurance that what they have worked for is properly covered.
Q. What’s the best way to keep track of the personal items in your home that are insured? Photos? Receipts?
A. I always recommend to my clients that besides purchase receipts/documentation, that they also save digital pictures on a jump drive, either in fire proof safe in home; or a safe location away from home. The pictures can serve to show adjusters and company representatives the actual personal property in the home.
Q. Last August and October we had some bad weather here in CT. Were most homeowners insured properly for those events? Is there additional coverage they should be looking for before hurricanes and winter return?
A. The most important thing is for homeowners to make sure they sit down to review in detail what it would actually cost to rebuild their home if there was to be a total loss; and the specific coverages their policies include. There are states where coverage for hurricanes is not automatically included in standard Homeowner’s insurance policies anymore. CT is not currently one of them; however, there has recently been language added to most carriers’ policies which creates a ‘hurricane duration clause’ to their conditions for coverage. Many people were not aware of the effects of this clause because they did not read their notices. The worst time to review coverages is after a catastrophe. As dry as insurance can be, it warrants attention. Especially when it is purchased to protect what we value most- our lives, our health, our homes.
Q. Do homeowners need additional liability insurance to protect their investments? What are your thoughts on that?
A. If you are talking about actual investments, such as stocks, mutual funds, etc, there is not insurance to protect these. When one invests in these, it should be clearly discussed that these rely greatly on the market, which is constantly changing.
If you are taking about liability in the event one is sued, in order to create an extra layer of protection above the underlying limits available under an auto or Homeowner’s policy, for example, every homeowner should talk to their agent about a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy.
Hilda Porrata-Doria is with the State Farm office, 966 State St., New Haven. She can be reached at (203) 781-9956 or through her website.