Take the Proactive Approach to Homeowners’ Insurance

It’s more common that you think for homeowners to overlook their policies, and just renew each year out of habit, without wondering not only if they’re getting the best deal, but if they’re properly insured for those uncommon situations one might not even really think about. For example, how do you know if you need special coverage for that new, three-season porch? What about that trampoline for the kids or that outdoor dining set? Are these things you even have to think about?

The answer, in a nutshell, is yes. And the key is getting ahead of them as soon as possible.

“There are always options for good coverage,” said Joe DeOliveira, owner and president of DeOliveira Insurance, in Mashpee. “It’s just a matter of finding them. For example, this new company I recently took on allows trampolines. I thought, wow, I have a few customers who have trampolines and this would be great for them.”

Often, a homeowner will not even think about insurance changes for specific variations or additions. Finished basements and three-season rooms, for example, all increase your living space’s square footage, which should be added to, or included in, your Dwelling A coverage amount, DeOliveira said. This is not the same as just adding a full addition, and needs to be dealt with accordingly, so that you don’t over- or under-insure.

He also said kitchens are the biggest upgrade to one’s home. “Going from builders’-grade basic cabinets, counters and appliances, to more functional and modern cabinetry, granite or solid stone counters, and the latest in kitchen appliances can increase your home value and insurance replacement cost by $20,000 to $80,000. That is why we recommend reviewing your policy even midterm, if you have had these types of changes. Simply increasing your current carrier may not be the best option. Updates can also equal discounts – especially for your roof and plumbing on a home over 25 years old.”

Finding the best fit in coverage for his clients is paramount to DeOliveira. When he finds that coverage or that better deal or discount, he informs his clients immediately so they can decide if they want to get in front of it right away.

“I tell them we can do it now, or we can wait until renewal – whichever is convenient for them. If it’s a big savings in money, they might do it right away. If not, they might wait a bit. Either way, I’m doing right by my client.” His agency currently serves clients throughout the Cape , and he makes it his business to keep in touch with each one while keeping his eye out for the best deal for them.

“Insurers don’t really think about it, but you have to sell yourself to your client every year,” he said. “If you don’t, and if you’re not really looking out for them, you’ll eventually lose them. If I can get my client a better deal, they stay with me, they trust me, and they tell other people. I want my clients for the long haul. I’m your agent, not your insurance company.”

The recent winter storms brought incredible winds, which left much damage in many forms across the Cape. If a tree fell but it didn’t hit your house – but it did hit your fence or your patio furniture that you just bought on sale – that could equal damages of $10,000 worth of fencing or $2,000 worth of new patio furniture, he said.

If you have a company that has a 2 percent windstorm deductible, and you have a $350,000 home, that means you have to pay the first $7,000 before they pay a dime. So, that tree that fell on your fence on your patio furniture that you just bought – you’re eating it. If it hits your house, it’s the same thing – you’re still on the hook for that $7,000. That’s a 2 percent deductible and that’s pretty standard for the market. If you have a $500,000 house, that’s $10,000 out of your pocket.

“If you’re on the Islands, you have a 5 percent deductible,” he said. “Over there, there are fewer options, but there are still options. I always look for the option that will save the client money today, as well as when there is a claim. With us, even here, you shouldn’t have to have that high of a deductible. I will always look for something better.”

He added, “Think about you; think about the things that are going to affect you. There are things on your property that fall under ‘other structures.’ A lot of times when I’m talking to a client about their homeowners insurance, in conversation, I can pick up on the little things and make a mental note on what they might need down the road.”

DeOliveira said he runs into clients all the time. “When my wife and I out and about, running to the grocery store or doing errands, I see them, and I talk to them about what I can do for them, or maybe about a discount that would be good for them. I always tell them what I would recommend.”
You can be sure that Joe DeOliveira, and DeOliveira Insurance, will provide you with the best options and the best deductibles for each client, need and scenario.

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About Ann Luongo

Ann Luongo is the Marketing Writer and Lifestyle Reporter for CapeCod.com, and has been writing for Cape Cod and South Shore publications for over 15 years.

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