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What You Should Ask Your Home Insurance Agent: An Interview with David W. Dunn of G.H. Dunn Insurance Agency, Inc.

By David Dunn

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

G.H. Dunn is an award winning regional insurance agency with 4 convenient locations. We focus on the south shore and southeast MA including the Cape and Islands. G.H. Dunn has been in business since 1927. The agency was founded by my Grandfather and I am very proud to be the 3rd generation owner. Our services include Small Business, home, boat and auto insurance. Being coastal agents we are also well versed in flood insurance and coastal property coverage.

Is there something about getting homeowners insurance that you wish more people knew?

Many people are still under the impression that the MA Fair Plan (a program for homeowners insurance run by the State of MA) is the only place to go for coastal coverage. The fact is, over the last few years there is much more competition for coastal business. At G.H. Dunn Insurance Agency we have lots of options!

How do you help a homeowner figure out how the replacement costs for their house and belongings, as well as how much they should ideally be insured for?

The first thing we do is pull the information located on the local town assessor's website. This is all public information and will give us year built, square footage, size of decks and porches, garages etc. The second thing we do is look at the real estate listing, if the property is a new purchase. The listings are so good these days they frequently provide pictures of all the rooms and exteriors of the home. From this we get a feel for the quality of the home. Does it have a custom kitchen? Is there hard wood floors or carpet? Is there a hot tub or gas fireplace?

Then we plug all this information into a program which calculates an estimated replacement cost to rebuild the home. Contents coverage is calculated as a percentage of the coverage on the home. Typically it is 50-70% of the coverage on the house, so a home with $400,000 of coverage on the dwelling would have $200,000-$280,000 of contents coverage. Many times this is too much coverage. Most carriers will not reduce the contents coverage but some will. Always ask the question!

What types of discounts might be available for homeowners?

The largest discount is writing your home and auto insurance with the same carrier. Inland this is easy, write your home and auto with the same company and you will see a nice discount! As you get near the coast many auto carriers will not write the home because of its proximity to the coast. There are companies that will give you a discount on the coastal house policy as long as the car is written with the same agency. At G.H. Dunn we have several companies that will offer these discounts. Other discounts are loss free, alarm systems, and safe home credits.

Why do home insurance rates/premiums increase?

Is there any way to prevent this? Generally speaking rates increase for 3 reasons. You suffer a loss and lose your loss free discount. The insurance company files for a rate increase or the homeowner's policy has an inflation guard rider that increases the coverage on the home year over year. At G.H. Dunn Insurance we have a computer system that flags large increases on renewal so we can shop the policy to other carriers. We also have a procedure to make sure our account managers are reviewing our customer's coverage. We actually have one dedicated person that does nothing but review and update cost estimators. It's that important us!

What are some of the most important decisions that new homeowners need to make about their coverage?

There are many important decisions when buying homeowner's insurance. At G.H. Dunn Insurance we have developed a Supplemental Questionnaire we use on all new purchases. It reviews questions that we think are very important to discuss with all new home buyers. Some of the questions are: Do you want to purchase Earthquake Coverage? Do you need coverage for jewelry or art? Do you have oil heat and want to purchase pollution coverage? Do you want to purchase identity fraud coverage? I can't tell you how many times our customers have thanked us for this review. It helps to uncover a hidden need for a specific coverage.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

We have a contact form on our website which is a quick and easy way to contact us. You can also reach me directly at 508.322.3200. Thank you!

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About The Author

David W. Dunn is the grandson of the founder of G.H. Dunn Insurance Agency, Inc.

Phone: 508-322-3200

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