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Types of Homeowners' Insurance: An Interview with Sharon Guaraldi of Guaraldi Agency

By Sharon Guaraldi

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

The agency was started by Larry Guaraldi in 1969 and taken over by son, Timothy Guaraldi about 10 years ago. Larry and Sharon continue to work with Tim on an increasingly limited time.

What is your company's mission?

The mission of the company has been to provide quality insurance products, education and service to policyholders. Larry had frequently felt that he only heard from his insurance agent when they wanted to sell something. He developed the agency to provide more personal attention and counseling to his clients. Prior to opening the office, Larry had operated a real estate agency in Grafton, NH.

What are some of the services your company provides?

We provide all insurance products and many investment products for both individuals and businesses.

Please briefly explain the idea of home insurance to our readers, what it is, why it was created, etc.

Home insurance is a 'package' which provides both hazard insurance and liability insurance for the homeowner. Hazard insurance is for fire, theft, damages to the building and personal property. Liability protects the homeowner from being sued into bankruptcy if a person is injured through the homeowner's negligence. There are also 'inside limits' for theft of many items so it is important to have specific questions when talking with your agent.

What different types of homeowners' insurance are available? (e.g. dwelling fire, basic, broad, etc.)

Depending upon the company, a person will find many difference terms for policies. The best method of evaluating is determining what items are covered, for how much and with what deductible. Discuss all this with the agent- much like dealing with any professional (garage mechanic, dentist, doctor, etc) a great deal depends upon referrals and your own feeling for how you will work together.

Please explain each different type listed.

I would recommend checking with the NH Insurance Dept for their booklet for complete explanations. Trying to explain all the differences would take a small book. Also many companies are using different names for each policy.

What type do you or your company most often recommend and why?

We recommend a broad homeowners policy with coverage equal to the cost of rebuilding the building. Other coverage is a percentage of the basic policy and may be increased if not enough. Liability coverage in New Hampshire is a minimum of 25,000 but we recommend increasing to protect your total assets (homes, personal belongings, cars, savings). You should at least have enough coverage to cover the value of your assets which you could be sued for. This may be done within the policy and/or by adding umbrella coverage which provides very broad protection. Although not a requirement, we also recommend doing an inventory of personal items to be sure the coverage and limits are adequate. Good recommendations cannot be made without adequate information.

For someone with low income, what do you suggest they do in regard to their home insurance? Are there government programs that can help or private deals that are available?

I would recommend that they talk with an agent early on in their search for a home and the appropriate insurance coverage. An honest discussion can help in the search with the understanding that finding a home close to a fire hydrant and/or fire station will be less expensive than one in the country. The cost of rebuilding and the amount they are willing to take on as their own risks (deductible) will all affect the cost. Higher deductibles reduce cost.

If the home has been subject to many claims (frozen pipes, thefts, animal bites), it is going to be more difficult to find an inexpensive policy until it can be proven the cause of damage has been corrected.

A history of having insurance, starting with tenant/apartment insurance - without claims increases the opportunity for an agent to obtain a good premium.

Credit is now being used more for evaluating a complete risk. Lack of funding or credit makes it difficult for the homeowner to properly maintain the building.

While we can all find exceptions or may disagree with anything used to evaluate the person and building, these programs are devised with much background information. It is important to remember that neither the agent nor company make any money by not writing policies. At the same time, because of the social nature of insurance there is an implied responsibility for the company to not take on all risks and make everyone pay more.

The primary governmental program is for flood insurance, often required by the lending institution.

Do you have anymore relative information for someone who is out to understand the different types of homeowners' insurance available?

As I mentioned above, the NH Insurance Department has developed some excellent brochures to help understand the different types of homeowners' insurances, what is covered and what the limitations are. Although few dive into the legal language of the policies, I do recommend it and asking for clarification of anything that is not really clear before you are reviewing it for a claim.

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

We do have a website: www..Guaraldi.com. A telephone call (603)448-350 making an appointment to review current coverage and needs is the most efficient and productive. If someone is looking to purchase their first home, a discussion early on could help in avoiding frustrations/disappointments after the perfect home is located.

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About The Author

Sharon Guaraldi has been with the Guaraldi Agency since it's inception as secretary,...

Phone: 603-448-4072

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