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Types of Homeowner Insurance: An Interview with Jill Durnen of Hartman Insurance Agency

By Jill Durnen

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

Hartman Insurance Agency was founded in October 1946 by Milton Hartman. Building a clientele in small town Saline meant long hours, intermittent pay and uncertainty galore. He was quoted in the Saline Reporter upon the 50th anniversary of the agency as saying, "I remember those early days working out of a little cubbyhole alongside a shoe cobbler. It wasn't exactly glamorous, but I just kept working until I was able to build enough of a base to move up in the insurance world." Which meant buying out other agents, expanding his product line and abiding by his business Golden Rule: "Treat people right, give people quality and service and they'll be clients for keeps."

Milton's son, Alan Hartman, joined the agency in 1971 after serving in the US Marine Corp. Alan's daughter, Jill (Hartman) Durnen joined the agency in 1994 after graduating from Western Michigan University. Together, Al and Jill have continued Milton's legacy of good customer service and community involvement and support.

Hartman Insurance Agency is an independent insurance agency, meaning we have access to a number of different carriers. This is beneficial, because we can do a lot of the "shopping" for the client and if their situation changes and their current carrier is no longer the best fit, we have other options and the client can remain with Hartman Insurance.

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

Prior to 1950, people could purchase individual policies to cover their property for specific perils (i.e. they would buy a fire policy, or another policy to cover them against theft). In 1950's, combination policy forms were developed allowing the homeowner to purchase all the insurance they needed on one complete policy. However, these policies varied by insurance company. Standardized homeowners policies were introduced in the early 1970's to provide a simpler and more comprehensive product that was also consistent from company to company. Today, the majority of insurance carriers offer similar coverage options for homeowners which includes replacement cost for the home and its contents as well as the option to cover extra items such as jewelry, boats or recreational vehicles.

What different types of homeowners' insurance are available? (e.g. dwelling fire, basic, broad, etc.) Please explain each different type listed.

There are different homeowners policies available for traditional single family homes, condominiums and renters. There are different policies available for landlords who rent homes to tenants (these are called Dwelling Fire policies).

For a traditional single family home, the home is covered for the amount it would cost this insurance carrier to rebuild the home in the event of a total loss. This amount also includes the extra cost of debris removal. Homeowners policies are packages. You get an additional 10-15% of the dwelling amount for any detached structures on the premises, 70-75% more for the contents of the home and any detached structures and 20-25% additional for loss of use (if you have to rent a home or stay in a hotel while your home is being repaired after a loss). The policy also provides personal liability and medical payments.

For Condominiums, the policies are a bit different. Since the condominium association typically covers the structure of the home, the client only needs to purchase insurance to cover the portion of the building they are responsible for (according to the bylaws) and their contents. The rest of the policy is the same as a traditional home policy.

For Renters, they only need to cover their contents, personal liability and medical payments.

Dwelling Fire or Rental Property policies cover the structure owned by a client that is rented to another party. These policies cover the structure and liability, but have limited contents coverage as this is the responsibility of the tenant renting the home. These policies provide liability and loss of rents coverage as well.

What type of insurance do you or your company most often recommend and why?

As an agency rule, we try to keep the policies we write as consistent as possible. For example, the homeowners policies include $100,000 personal liability, but we write a minimum of $300,000 (the additional premium is minimal typically $10-15 per year). We also always include replacement cost on the home and contents and at least $5,000 in water backup coverage. The clients can choose to increase limits or deductibles or remove unneeded coverages to customize their policy from there.

For someone with low income, what do you suggest they do in regard to their home insurance? Are there government programs that can help or private deals that are available?

Many insurance companies offer discounts if you are a member of a credit union, alumni association or professional society. That is a simple way to reduce your home insurance premium, join a credit union. Other ways to reduce your premium include a new roof discount (if your roof is less than 10 years old), choose a higher deductible or write your auto insurance with the same carrier as the home most carriers offer a multi-policy discount which can save 25% on the home premium.

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

To contact us, you can call (734) 429-5491 or visit our website ( www.hartmaninsurancesaline.com). On the website, there are "get a quote" functions for home, auto, business or life insurance quotes.

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