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How to Handle Your Insurance Claim After a Home Fire: An Interview with PJ Cistulli of Able Insurance Agency

By PJ Cistulli

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

PJ has almost 40 years' experience in the insurance industry, and is very proud to be celebrating Able Insurance Agency's

20th anniversary this year. From it's humble beginnings in a home office, he has grown Able to its niche as a full service independent agency. PJ is a community service oriented person, has lived in Concord since 1975, is a dedicated Rotary Club of Concord member and Past- President, and plays more than a little tennis, having held New England rankings as a senior player. He has four children, two grown and on their own, and lives in Concord with his wife Lynn.

We offer a full line of personal insurance (i.e. auto, home, tenant, boat, recreational vehicles and probate bonds,etc.) and commercial insurance ( i.e. business/ contractor liability, property, workers compensation, auto,etc.) through many "A" rated companies.

What tips can you give to help people in New Hampshire make sure they're properly insured before a potential fire?

Be sure that your home is covered adequately for a major loss (i.e. fire, lightning strike, snow back up, flood). Our qualified agents will use a "replacement cost estimator", standardized by the industry, so that you can be confident you have the appropriate amount of coverage for your home in the event you must rebuild. Remember flood and earthquake are not standard coverages. So add earthquake to your home policy (if you're worried) and talk to us about a flood policy if you're in a flood zone.

Is there something most people don't know about the claim process that they should know?

Communication with your agent and inside claims rep., is of utmost importance during the claims process. The more they are aware of your situation, the better they can react and suggest efficient and prompt solutions.

Can you explain what a public adjuster is and how a public adjuster can help homeowners who have experienced a fire on their property?

Generally, I do not favor the "public adjuster" process. I have found from past experience, that they can many times clog up the process and harm the outcome by delaying, to the property owners detriment. In extreme cases where the property owner is receiving zero assistance from the agent or company, perhaps the public adjuster could come into help. Those cases are few.

What are the basic steps that homeowners should take after a fire, until their claim is settled?

Some basic steps to take after a fire has occurred are: a) Protect your property ( first duty of a property owner), b) Work with your company claims adjuster and inside claims person ( they are the keys to swift return to normality), c) Arrange for competent contractors to offer estimates for replacing your property lost., d) Communicate with your claims reps., especially regarding any changes in the rebuilding process you wish to execute.

What regrets have you seen people in New Hampshire have when it comes to making an insurance claim due to fire? What advice would you give to help other homeowners avoid this?

Communicating clearly with the claims rep. and providing a complete list of lost personal property items. Granted , it is difficult to remember everything you own but pictures are helpful and at least a partial list (which can be added to later) will get you action. Typically personal property is covered as "Replacement Cost on Contents Endorsement". In practice you will receive "(ACV) Actual Cash Value in the form of a check initially. When you show receipts for proof of purchase, you will then receive the balance of 100% replacement as a reimbursement. Remember insurance is there to "make you whole again", not to make a profit from.

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

To reach Able Insurance Agency, you can call our office at 603-225-6677, email us from our website, like us and message from our Facebook page, tweet us on Twitter, fax us on our fax number 603-225-4675 or stop in at our office at 130 Broadway, Concord, NH 03301. We have the best "real person" service delivered by Angela, Kathy and of course me "PJ"!

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