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Assessing Your Home Insurance Coverage: An Interview with Maria Lampros of Guard Insurance

By Maria Lampros

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

Guard Insurance Agency is a firm of proven professionals and caring, conscientious people. We are a Trusted Choice independent insurance agency serving individuals, families and businesses since 1983. As an independent insurance agency we represent a carefully selected group of financially sound, reputable insurance companies. Our primary objective is to establish a relationship, a partnership, between our clients, the insurance company and our agency to provide coverage, loss control services and above all, claim services. Guard Insurance Agency has been voted BestofSurveys Best Insurance Agency in Watertown for 7 consecutive years.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Guard Insurance Agency offers a full range of products for personal and business insurance coverage including home, car, renters and condo insurance for individuals and families, as well as condo association insurance, commercial, commercial auto, restaurant and contractors insurance for businesses and business owners.

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

Homeowners Insurance (HO3), is sometimes also known as Hazard Insurance, and was first created to provide insurance coverage against fire. Homeowners insurance as evolved to much more. The homeowners insurance policy today is much broader and can also provide liability coverage, coverage for medical payments, temporary living expenses and loss of use, to name a few. Home insurance can also be tailored to your specific needs, for example, worldwide umbrella and coverage for home businesses.

What are the advantages of working with a local agent, rather than a popular online insurance source?

For many people it simply doesn't matter as long as they get the best deal possible. Others have distinct preferences about how they get their insurance coverage.

By using a local insurance agency, you have a much better chance of finding the best deal and best coverage possible for you because your agent will work with a number of companies to obtain the best rate for you. In fact, he or she will be able to access certain companies that only sell through brokers or agents, giving you more choice than if you contacted companies directly.

Having a local agent allows you the opportunity, to walk into the office. This is direct contact with a person possibly in the same town as you, who understands the local community and not a random individual in another state or possible another country that has no idea of the happenings in your area. Having a local agent offers the opportunity many times, to actually speak to the same person that will probably remember your name.

The local independent agent has a wealth of information in insurance coverage and is willing to educate you at no cost.

What is the deductible and how does the insurer decide on the amount?

The standard homeowners policy (HO3) provides coverage for your dwelling, other structures, personal property, loss of use, personal liability and medical payments and has a policy deductible. The standard deductible is $500 with an option to decrease to $250 or increase up to $2500. The policy deductible is the policyholder's responsibility in the event of a property loss.

Do most property protection policies include dwelling, other structures, and personal property?

Coverage for your dwelling and other structures is very broad. The types of loss covered are so many that the homeowners policy, HO3, names the losses which are not covered, for example: neglect, wear and tear, collapse, earthquake, landslide/mudslide, flood, tidal waves, water from sewer and drains, constant or repeated seepage of water or steam, insects, vermin, rodents, power failure off premises, smoke that is not sudden or accidental, nuclear reaction and war.

Examples of other structures can include: detached decks, detached garage, detached shed, fences, gazebos.

Coverage for your personal property is covered per the following named perils: aircraft, glass breakage, explosion, fire or lightning, freezing of plumbing, heating, air condition, sudden & accidental cracking, burning, bulging or tearing apart of a stem, hot water, air conditions, or automatic fire protective sprinkler system, sudden & accidental power surges to electrical appliances, devices, fixtures and wiring, riot or civil commotion, smoke, theft (exceptions for certain items), vandalism or malicious mischief, vehicles, volcanic eruption, water or steam that accidentally discharges or overflows from a household system or appliance, windstorm or hail.

Certain personal property items, such as, jewelry, fire arts, musical instruments, stamps, collectibles, may have to be scheduled to be covered for replacement cost.

You may endorse the homeowners policy (HO3) to remove the named perils, add replacement cost for your personal property, earthquake, water sewer backup, among other coverage, which your local agent can educate you on.

What does the personal liability part of my policy cover? Will the insurer pay for medical expenses as well?

Personal Liability coverage is under section II of the homeowners policy. It provides coverage for personal liability exposures such as premises, personal activities, pet exposures, and certain incidental coverage. Business-related losses and auto-related losses are normally excluded. This protection includes two main areas of coverage. The first pertains to liability to other parties for bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD). Note that Personal injury (PI) losses, such as libel and slander are not covered. However, Personal Injury coverage can be endorsed to the homeowners policy for a small premium. The second pertains to medical payments expense to others, which is payable regardless of legal liability. Premises Liability coverage and Medical Payments can be added to the Dwelling Fire policy. Personal Liability and Premises Liability limits typically begin at $100,000 and Medical Payments at $1,000. Most companies offer liability limits up to $500,000 and some offer up to $1,000,000.

Do you have anymore tips for someone who is out their home insurance policy?

Contact your local agent. Educate yourself. It will cost you just a few dollars to add a company enhancement to your policy or to increase your Personal Liability limit. Use a higher deductible, such as, $1000 to lower your premium. Pick an agency that is there for you. Remember if you have a claim or a coverage concern, your local agent will be much more able to assist you then an internet company.

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

We're here to help and we'd love to hear from you. We can be reached by phone on (617) 926-4000, email with info@guardinsure.com, or through our website www.guardinsure.com.

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