Think for a moment and try to recall the last time you looked over your homeowners’ insurance policy – if ever. Do you understand it? Are you confident and comfortable with your level of coverage or the price you pay for it? What if you need to make a claim?” asked Griffin Morrow, a senior client advisor with Mappus Insurance Agency.
Unfortunately, he said, many people don’t know if they have a good insurance policy until they experience a loss.
Insuring homes in coastal areas such as Isle of Palms can be confusing for homeowners and out-of-state insurance agencies. Mappus Insurance, a locally owned independent insurance agency that represents multiple companies, has been specializing in insuring coastal homes since 1960.
Mappus Insurance advocates for their clients from the very beginning, getting to know them on a personal level, discussing a wide spectrum of details regarding their property to build a “risk profile” and looking at their current policy to see exactly what it covers. They then reach out to the various companies Mappus represents to get quotes based on the client’s specific needs.
“Most people have never been taught what questions to ask when they are looking for a provider or policy, but, before they simply choose the lowest-priced option, we explain the coverage in a way that makes sense so the client can make an educated decision on the right plan,” Morrow said.
For example, he pointed out that many island residents have a wind-only policy – known as a wind pool policy.
“The ‘wind pool’ program is considered a last-resort option; it’s almost always the highest price, and the coverage is not great compared to the alternatives. A lot of people have this policy without knowing that it’s considered a last resort. For many insurance companies, the wind pool policy may be the only choice, so of course they won’t tell you it’s a last-resort option,” he explained. “We are not saying there is anything wrong with these companies. It is that they just don’t have a strong appetite for coastal property insurance. As an independent agency, we have often cut clients’ premiums in half along with better coverages and better deductibles.”
Similarly, until the past few years, FEMA was the only option for homeowners to get flood insurance. Recently, private insurers have started to write flood insurance. While it’s not the right choice for every situation, a move to private insurers has saved some customers thousands of dollars. Morrow said in some situations, the drastic difference in flood insurance costs has been a make-or-break factor in several Isle of Palms real estate deals.
“Understanding your coverage limits and deductibles is key, but it’s not just those two things. It’s the quality of the agency you’re working with. If you have a loss, will that agency be there? Many of our staff members live within a few miles from Isle of Palms and can be there quickly, which is a benefit, especially for secondary homeowners who don’t live in town,” Morrow said. “At Mappus, we have a strong belief that homeowners should be shopping for an agency partner that they trust and will present solutions and not simply a cheap quote. When you find the right agency, the best pricing will certainly be there, and, at the end of the day, that will go a long way.”
To learn more, visit www.mappusinsurance.com or call 843-763-4200.
By Anne Toole