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Coverage Basics for Your Home Insurance: An Interview with Melanie Flamand of Flamand & Associates Insurance

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

I started in the insurance business May 1985 and still love what I do every single day. Being directly appointed with several companies, this agency can provide quotes for all lines of business including personal homes, autos, umbrellas, and all commercial lines of business from small startups to large companies. We also offer AFLAC benefits to employees at no cost to the employer. We have great life insurance and annuity products as well.

Is there something about home insurance that most people in Rhode Island don't know that they should know?

We live in the Ocean State, which scares many insurers out there. Coastal rates have skyrocketed. Unfortunately, coastal can mean 3-5 miles from the coast as the crow flies. So someone 2.5 miles inland might not get quotes with certain carriers due to their guidelines. Also, credit plays more of a part in quotes than most people realize.

When would a homeowner want to consider high-value home insurance?

Insurance companies look at the replacement cost of a home, not the appraised value. Very important to note! A 3,200 square foot home appraised at $950,000 due to water views might only have a replacement cost of $650,000. Some home carriers won't insure a home with a replacement cost over $1,000,000, so there are limited companies to shop at that level. The few that do write that risk, though, have extremely generous benefits within the policy.

What type of coverage does someone who owns a home on the Rhode Island coast need?

As stated before, coastal doesn't necessarily have to be on the water. There are a limited amount of carriers offering coverage for those risks. You would also need to confirm your deductible. There is your flat deductible for any losses occurred. In addition to that, some companies have additional deductible amounts on either wind storm or hurricane losses from 1% - 5% of the Coverage A amount of your policy. For example, if your home is insured for $200,000 and you have a 3% hurricane deductible, that equates to $6,000. Look for the "named storm/hurricane" clause. That would mean that the deductible mentioned can only be instilled if damage to your home happens during that named storm/hurricane.

What's the difference between a vacant and an unoccupied home when it comes to insurance needs?

A vacant, or unoccupied, home brings more risk to the company because the owner (or tenant) is not present in the home on a daily basis, which could bring increasing nuisance claims from vandalism, etc. Vacant home policies are written in 3-, 6- and 12-month periods, with the hopes that the home will be rented and/or occupied by that time. They are much more expensive due to these risks. Also, copper plumbing stolen in a vacant home is not covered nor is the ensuing damage to remove it from the property. That seems to be prevalent today with our economy as such.

Do you have a tip for Rhode Island homeowners to help them save money on their home insurance premium?

Lower deductibles equal higher premiums. Make sure your deductible is $1,000 to save some money without losing coverages. A central alarm system can save up to another 5% with certain companies. Check your auto carrier. Packaging your auto and home together can save you money on both policies.

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

You can call 401-228-3500 or email me at melanie@flamandinsurance.com. I have a great team to handle all your personal and commercial needs.

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