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What All New Homeowners Should Know About Insurance: An Interview with Eric Abbey of The Keats Agency

By Eric Abbey

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

The Keats Agency is an award winning insurance agency that has been serving the community 20+ years. We handle all lines of insurance including Personal Lines, Business, Life, and Health products. Our strength is in finding the right policy, for the right price, while offering each of our clients more value for their insurance dollars. Each customer has their own unique set of protection needs and we handle each protection on an individual basis. Each year our clients are offered a review of their protections. Life changes and situations change and we feel it is important to stay on top of the changes. Our team includes an in-house Claims Manager to assist should the unfortunate happen. The agency has 5 offices (2 in Long Island, 2 in Upstate and in Georgia) and over 25 associates. We are the largest Nationwide Insurance Agent in NY and we are a top 20 producing agency across the country.

Is there something about getting insured that most new homeowners don't know that they should know?

Information is key to building the right protections for my clients. I always inform a new client of all the options that they have available to them. Each client in different and has different needs. Most people have very limited knowledge when it comes to Homeowners Insurance. They usually know the basics. It is my job to explain what protections they are getting, not getting and what is available. The majority of Homeowners (packaged) policies are similar. What new homeowners should understand is that having a trusted insurance advisor is important. Someone they feel comfortable with that will take the time and do what is best for the client. They are not just buying a policy, but they are forming a relationship.

How would you suggest that a new homeowner approaches "shopping" for home insurance? At what point should they start the process?

The cost of insurance is usually an afterthought when new homeowners start looking for homes. It is a yearly cost that they will need to budget for. I thinks its great when a first time home buyer starts inquiring about home insurance even before they found a home. By discussing the neighborhoods they are looking at, the agent can offer their experiences and knowledge of the area and any special conditions they will need to be aware of. (ie. flood,insurance). Start by finding the right person to work with and then there will be no surprises come 'closing time'.

What do you consider "adequate" coverage for a new home and how do you determine the amount?

Most carriers require that every insured have enough Dwelling coverage to rebuild the home at today's constructions rates. So 'adequate' differs for each situation. To find the specific value of the home, for insurance purposes, we use a program that takes into account many different factors like original year built, style of home, quality of building, square footage, materials used inside and outside. This program will determine the 'Replacement' cost of a home. This will differ from the market value of the home because it is just talking into account the building and the contents, not the location. From that point all other coverages will be discussed at the time of quoting.

Why do home insurance rates/premiums increase? Is there any way to prevent this?

Home insurance policies can increase for a couple of reasons. General rate increases for a specific area, which is usually spurred on by a high claims activity in the area. Individual claims by the homeowner can be also be a reason. Another increase factor would be that the cost to rebuild the home increases each year. This would cause the 'replacement cost' to increase, thus increasing the premium.

The best way to impact a rate increase is to re-verify the current replacement cost with your agent/broker and to check the current protections that the policy offers. Having a yearly review of your policy to be sure that you are receiving all available discounts and that the coverages are at a level that makes sense. Another way to lower the rate is to go after a multi-policy discount by bringing your auto insurance and Life insurance with the same carrier. If you have a central station alarm be sure that the insurance agent has that discount active and if any Alarm certificates are needed. Have you done any upgrades or renovations (roof,heat,electric,plumbing)? Most carriers offer discounts for that as well. The best bet: A yearly review.

What are some of the most important decisions that new homeowners need to make about their coverage?

Important decisions come down to how does a new homeowner get the most value for their insurance dollars. Find an agent/broker who will listen to their needs and explain all the items that we just discussed. Clients don't need to know the nuts and bolts of the policy, that's my job. They need to understand the basics and feel comfortable calling their 'agent' to discuss anything that comes up during the life of a policy or for any other insurance needs that they may have. When I put together a homeowner policy, I first quote the policy as if I was writing it for myself. When I discuss these protections with the client I explain what I put in, what I left off and why. In my 25 years of building my business I have learned to only do what is best for the client and their situation. My goal is for a client to leave feeling informed and happy that they just started to build a relationship that they will have for years to come.

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

You can reach me: Eric Abbey @ 516-354-4849 x13 or by e-mail: abbeye@nationwide.com

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About The Author

Eric has been servicing the insurance industry since 1989. As both an Agent for a...

Phone: 516-354-4849

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