Expert Interview with Michael F. Keating Of Keating Agency Insurance On The Ins And Outs Of Homeowners' Insurance
Most people think if they own homeowners insurance, they need never worry about damages to their house again. They are covered.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, as homeowners insurance only covers a very specific set of situations and circumstances – which is why there are separate policies for earthquake, fire, and flood.
We sought out an expert to set the record straight on what exactly homeowners insurance is and what it covers.
Keating Agency Insurance is a family-run insurance agency operating out of West Hartford, Connecticut. The agency was started by Michael Keating Sr., who passed it on to his son, Michael Keating Jr., who sat down to share a lifetime’s worth of insurance information and wisdom with us.
Can you introduce us to Keating Agency? When was your company founded? What are some of the different types of insurance you offer?
Keating Insurace Agency was started in 1969. We provide coverage for the entire State of Connecticut and also insure homes in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont.
We are an independent agency that represents over 15 carriers. We provide auto, home, recreational vehicle, life, health, financial planning, bonds and commercial insurance.
Could you briefly explain what homeowners insurance is?
Homeowners coverage is designed to protect a consumer from damage to their house or its contents from most perils aside from floods, earthquakes and wear and tear. Flood coverage can be obtained by a Flood Policy, and Earthquake Coverage can be endorsed onto the home policy.
What are some common misconceptions that people have about it?
Unfortunately, many consumers think a homeowners policy is a maintenance policy for small losses. The policy was designed for major losses that would put a consumer’s finances at risk. The spread of risk concept allows for more people paying smaller premiums to then have protection against a large catastrophic loss.
What are some reasons people should consider getting homeowners insurance?
Protection of Assets against loss to owned property and liability claims.
You go over some things to consider and questions to ask your insurance agent on your website when considering homeowners insurance. Could you briefly recap some of these reasons here?
The consumer should understand the concept of the policy not being a maintenance policy. The consumer should be comfortable with the selection of the loss deductible that is being used. The agent and the consumer will review whether any additional hazards are at the residence, such as a home office or a business being run out of the residence. Also if any pools, trampolines or pets are owned.
Can you give us some examples of the types of construction and remodeling that homeowners insurance generally covers?
Most Standard Policies are issued on a Replacement Cost Loss Settlement that allows the policy to pay to rebuild with like kind and quality. The Standard Policies will have a provision for “Law & Ordinance” that will allow the policy to provide for additional cost to rebuild to current code. The amount of coverage varies from carrier to carrier, and can also be endorsed to a higher limit if and as needed. There is a rise in carriers using an Actual Cash Value Loss Settlement across the country for roof losses. In Connecticut, the Standard Policies are using the replacement cost basis, but the Non-Standard carriers use the Actual Cash Value policies.
Keating Insurance offers free estimates for homeowners insurance. Can you give a rough estimate on how much homeowners insurance might be for a hypothetical family of four in, say, a two story home?
Each policy is unique in pricing in most states, since it is a combination of Insurance Score and Risk Characteristics (age of home, if there is a central alarm system, if there is a sprinkler system, the location of home to fire station and water supply, how close the house is to the coast line, claims that may exist within in the past five years and the type of claim). Catastrophe Losses typically are not held against the consumer, but the number allowed varies by carrier. The premium can also be lower if a consumer uses one carrier for the homeowners and auto coverage.
What are one or two of the most disastrous scenarios you’ve seen to people’s homes due to poor maintenance that could have easily been avoided?
Fires that have started due to hoarding and clutter around furnaces. Also, electrical boxes that get compromised over time from weather allowing water to enter and cause corrosion. The water heater losses, while messy, tend to be not as large compared to losses arising from fire. All water heaters have a life span and often are not replaced and fail without warning.
In a tree-heavy climate like Connecticut, how often should someone clean their gutters to keep them working properly?
A yearly cleaning is advised and typical for folks with trees. Most consumers do a fall and spring cleanup of their properties and address maintenance issues at that time.
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