Keeping up with home coverage key in changing market

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MOSES LAKE — Say there’s a fire. Say the house is damaged, maybe destroyed. Of course, there’s a homeowners insurance policy, and that will cover it, right? Right?

The chances that it all will be covered are better if the homeowners have done their homework. And homeowners need to think about changing coverage to reflect changing replacement costs and home values, especially in an active market like the current central Washington market. Local insurance agents said it’s a good idea to check the policy periodically irrespective of the market, just to make sure it provides adequate protection.

R.J. Martinez, owner of the R.J. Martinez Agency in Quincy and Farmers Insurance agent, said homeowners need to take increased construction costs and home values into account when buying home insurance. Most policies include an allowance for inflation, what’s called “extended replacement,” Martinez said, but in an active real estate market that might not be enough.

Gary Trautman, president of Basin Pacific Insurance & Benefits, headquartered in Moses Lake, said construction costs have risen dramatically, enough that homeowners should look at current costs.

“We encourage people to find out what it would cost to build a house like theirs,” Trautman said. “People really need to understand what it would cost to replace their house.”

Tawni Harris, insurance agent at the Greg Schlagel Allstate insurance agency in Moses Lake, said every homeowner should take stock of their property on a regular basis – not just the house, but what’s in it.

Over time, a homeowner will acquire new belongings and get rid of others, and the insurance policy needs to reflect that, Harris said. Any remodeling or improvement to the property also has an impact on home value, and on the home insurance policy as a result.

Homeowners who have taken out the carpet or vinyl and replaced it with hardwood floors need to take that into account. So do homeowners who have replaced old windows, or made other upgrades to the house.

“If you add a sunroom to the side of your house, you’d better talk to your agent,” said Chad Schwab, owner of the Chad Schwab Agency and Farmers Insurance agent in Moses Lake.

Trautman said homeowners should be proactive and do some research themselves, and not just assume the policy covers it all.

“Take a look at it. Is it (the coverage) enough?” Trautman said.

Trautman and Martinez suggested homeowners talk to people with experience in the construction industry to determine what the replacement cost would be in the current market.

“It doesn’t hurt to ask,” Martinez said.

Schwab said people should get in the habit of reviewing the policy periodically, at least once a year, to determine if the coverage still fits their circumstances.

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