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What You Should Ask Your Home Insurance Agent: An Interview with Michele Kimrey of Hatcher Kimrey Insurance

By Michele Kimrey

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

Hatcher Kimrey Insurance began offering insurance products in 1999. We are an independent agency offering homeowner, auto, small business, supplemental and life insurances. We are always there for you when you need us. We work hard to find you the best insurance for your needs.

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

When calling an independent agent, it takes a little time to get quotes. As an independent agent, we research the marketplace to obtain the best quote based on price and suitability for the client. We do different scenarios based on home with auto, as well as standalone auto and home, to find the best rates. If a homeowner has other needs, such as an umbrella, boat, or dwelling fire, each policy can be bundled to give a discounted rate on each.

It is customary for us to prepare quotes from numerous companies, and multiple quotes within a company. Also, in order to get the most accurate quote, we need information. So, be prepared to spend a few minutes discussing your home. The information we need is age of roof, age of heating/air conditioning, when was the water heater last replaced, have updates been made to the home in its electrical, mechanical or plumbing systems? This is information we cannot obtain from public records, but helps us in obtaining lower rates for you.

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?

Most insurance companies, as part of the quoting process, have replacement cost estimators that we fill out for each company. These take into consideration the size of the home, type and quality of construction, amenities, type of floor coverings, number of stories, etc. We do a lot of fact finding from public records on the home to obtain the information. The more information the client can provide, the closer we can come to obtaining a realistic value for their home.

What types of discounts might be available for homeowners in Texas?

Each company is a little different in the discounts that they offer. But, generally all companies are going to offer companion product discounts, i.e., auto, secondary dwellings, umbrella. Most will offer discounts for burglar alarm systems (monitored alarms as well as unmonitored alarms), new purchase discount, new home discount, and fire suppression sprinkler systems. Some companies that only offer home insurance will give a discount if the auto is also insured by the agent to compete with the companies that carry both home and auto and give companion discounts.

Why do home insurance rates/premium increase? Is there any way to prevent this?

Rates and premiums increase due to many factors, some can be controlled and others cannot. Weather has a large impact on rates for both home and auto. In the last six or seven years, we in Texas have experienced major losses from tornadoes, straight line winds, hail, drought causing wild fires, hurricanes, ice storms and freezing temperatures. Insurance companies have experienced record losses due to our inclement weather conditions. These losses are passed on to the consumer.

The rates usually follow the last three to four years of weather. As the effects of weather increase the losses, the rates rise, and conversely, the rates will lower as weather is better. A factor in premiums rising is costs of construction. Insurance companies must continue to evaluate costs of construction and maintain a level of coverage to be able to replace or repair your current home in the event of loss. So, as costs rise, so will premiums because they are based on the replacement cost value of the home. Premiums on new homes will increase as the home ages, because every year the new home discount gets less until it is gone, usually by the home's tenth year.

Good maintenance in and around the home will help to keep rates down. Non-weather related claims cause rates to increase and a large percentage of these claims can be avoided by timely simple repairs, for example, keeping trees trimmed and away from the roof. As winds blow the tree limbs can rub against the roof and in time cause a loss of integrity of the roof which can lead to water leaks in the home. So, by keeping the trees limbs trimmed at least 18 inches from the roof will eliminate the potential for claims and increased premiums.

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

Make certain that you are covered by a reputable company that will have the financial strength to sustain great losses as in the event of major disasters from tornadoes or hurricanes that can affect great numbers of homes, subdivisions, towns, even cities. This can be determined by the company's rating. AM Best rates companies based on its financial strength. Most financial institutions require a B+ or better rate. We work with "A" rated companies, so that you can always feel confident that you will be protected in the event of a major loss.

Customer satisfaction is also important to know, retention rates as well as how well the company pays its claims. Also, many companies will have lower rates because their deductibles are higher, especially on wind and hail. Be sure that you are comparing comparable policies and coverages when obtaining rates. You don't want to suffer a loss to find out that you don't have the coverage you thought you were getting.

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

We can be reached by phone at 972-485-8900 (toll-free at 888-412-8908) or by email at mhk@hatcherkimrey.com.

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About The Author

Michele Kimrey owns and manages Hatcher Kimrey Insurance.

Phone: 972-485-8900

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