Today Charlotte Russell joins me to answer key questions about home insurance.
Today I’m joined by special guest Charlotte Russell, who has her own insurance agency in Redwood City, California. She’s here to help answer some great questions about home insurance and share some of her expert advice so that you’re more educated about this important homeowner topic.
“How much coverage do I need?”
Coverage is very individualized. Every person has a unique lifestyle; therefore, their insurance needs to be unique as well.
“If my home needs to be rebuilt, what does that process look like?”
If your home suffers enough damage to need rebuilding, you’ll definitely want to call your insurance agent first. The process varies from company to company. Charlotte will walk you through the process of working with your claims representative to make sure they understand your situation so that your home can be rebuilt the way that it was.
Many people don’t realize that insurance is a contract between you and the insurance company where you have all the power. If you have special granite countertops that are unique in some way, for example, you need to educate your claims adjuster about it. It’s a good idea to go around and take pictures of sentimental possessions that would be hard to put a dollar value on. That way, if you ever need to use your insurance, you can share those photos with your claims adjuster when it comes time to do your inventory list.
“Here in California, we experience frequent wildfires. How does that affect people’s coverage?”
Insurance is a system that works by everyone putting their money into the bucket. That means even if you live on the peninsula where you might not experience many wildfires, wildfires will still impact your rates. The Departments of Insurance dictates rates, so if you don’t like your rates, contact your Dept. of Insurance and participate in our voting system. Many companies have filed rates lately to try to keep up with the demand in California.
“Is flood insurance included in my policy?”
You’ll need to speak to your insurance provider to find out if flood insurance is included, but most companies don’t automatically include it. Everybody is in a flood zone; the relevant information is whether you’re in a preferred or high-risk flood zone. Flood insurance comes through FEMA, a government program. When you have a flood claim, you’ll work with a FEMA adjuster. In our area, earthquake risk is actually more common. Earthquakes aren’t covered on your homeowner’s insurance, so it’s important that you seek it out.
“If I receive a notice that my policy won’t be renewed, what are my options?”
This is the most important part of participating in the Department of Insurance’s voting process. If companies can’t get the proper rate, then they’ll exit, and that’s been happening a lot in California. When companies exit, there’s less competition, higher rates, and fewer choices. If you do get the unfortunate news that your policy won’t be renewed, contact a local insurance professional like Charlotte.
If you have any further questions about home insurance, I encourage you to reach out to Charlotte at (650) 369-7900. For any questions you have about real estate in general, give us a call at Erich and Ellen Real Estate. We’d love to help you.