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Sherri Richards, Published July 17 2010

Homeowners advised to review insurance

An influx of first-time homebuyers taking advantage of federal tax credits also means a whole lot of new insurance policies being purchased.

In the push to close by a June 30 deadline, some of these buyers may not have taken the time to research homeowners insurance.

“People spend so little time with it. They call their auto agent, get a quick quote,” said Joshua Huffman, a credit counselor with the Village Family Service Center in Fargo. He teaches home-buying classes.

“The one thing we’re always encouraging people to do is take this a bit more seriously. Sit down with your agent and talk about it,” Huffman said.

People shouldn’t make assumptions about what is covered without looking at the terms of their policy, said Manny Munson-Regala, deputy commissioner of Market Assurance with the Minnesota Department of Commerce Insurance Commission.

Even longtime homeowners can be caught unaware. As Country Financial agent Jorin Johnson said, “A lot of people don’t know what they’re choosing. Until a claim is filed, a lot of people don’t care.”

Larry Maslowski, property and casualty division director for the North Dakota Insurance Department, recommends consumers re-evaluate their coverage every three to five years.

“If your agent isn’t already doing that every three to five years, give them a call. Walk through that stuff,” he said.

These insurance regulators, agents and educators each emphasized the same issues homeowners need to know about their policies. In the end, it’s all about balancing coverage and cost and deciding how much risk you’re willing to take.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556