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Assessing Your Home Insurance Coverage: An Interview with Kyle Gibson of Burnette Insurance

By Kyle Gibson

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

Burnette Insurance is a family owned and operated independent insurance agency that has been in business in Gwinnett County for over 40 years. It was started by Ernest Burnette in 1970, and is now owned by his three kids: Stan Burnette, who is President. John Burnette- who is VP and sells commercial lines. Kim Gibson who is VP of personal lines. We are a good sized independent agency, with over 20 employees, one of the largest in the metro Atlanta area. Our mission statement is "To serve our clients like we wish to be served. To put the needs of our clients and friends before our very own and treat each client wit the respect befitting an honored guest. We will endeavor to reduce the worry of protecting your material things from risk so that your time, thoughts and energy may be directed toward matters that are more important." www.burnetteinsurance.com/about-us has a great breakdown too.

What are some of the services your company provides?

We are a full service independent insurance agency. We can help with the largest commercial need to the smallest business needs, but our specialty in business insurance is with the technology market. The commercial department can protect your business property, liability, and can help with workers compensation and many other important business policies. We have a large benefits department, including life, health and long term care for individuals and businesses. We can work with your personal insurance policies, protecting your homes, cars, boats, toys and umbrella insurance. As an independent agent, we have access to multiple markets and can make sure to find the right policy for you.

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

Home insurance is a policy to protect what is usually your biggest asset- your home. It's there to help you get back to normal in the event of a catastrophe or major loss to your home. If a fire occurred at your house, and you did not have any property insurance, your investment would be lost. But if you had home insurance, the policy would rebuild your home, replace your belongings and give you a place to stay and live while your home was being rebuilt. This was created to protect people from losing everything!

What are the advantages of working with a local agent, rather than a popular online insurance source?

With a local agent, you have someone close by that knows the area, knows the people that live here. Someone you can come in and talk to; someone who can guide you through a big loss. We are someone you can see anytime, whether it's in our office, or at the park on a Saturday. You know us and we know you. We know your business, your employees. Instead of being a voice on one end of the phone in a completely different state, we're a face that you can see when you need to see it. Also as an independent agent, we have access to more than just one market. We can look at a lot of different carriers to see what works best for you.

What is the deductible and how does the insurer decide on the amount?

The deductible is what you pay out of pocket in a loss before the insurance company starts paying. For example, a small fire occurred in your house and completely ruined two whole rooms with a total damage amount of $40,000. You would have to pay your deductible (could be $500, could be $1000, could be higher- it's your choice!) and then the insurance company would pay for the rest. You can pick your own deductible at the beginning of the policy. Some carriers require at least a $1,000 deductible. The higher the deductible (the more risk you take on by yourself) the lower the premium (cost of the policy) will be.

Do most property protection policies include dwelling, other structures, and personal property?

There are four different types of personal home property policies. One is the Homeowners policy (also called an HO-3 or HO-5). This covers the whole enchilada ? the house, the stuff inside the house, any buildings attached or detached from the home. There is a Renters insurance policy (called an HO-4) which covers your stuff, your personal property, but has no coverage for the building you are renting. There is a "condo-Owners" policy (called an HO-6) which is kind of a hybrid. This policy covers your personal property, and covers parts of the dwelling, covers any improvements you may have made to the condo you own. If you buy a condo, and then replace the old carpet floor with nice hardwoods, or replace all the fixtures inside the house, you want to make sure those are replaced the same if there is a fire. The condo-owners policy allows you to make sure your improvements are covered. There are also insurance policies for dwellings you own but rent to others- this is called a dwelling fire policy. This policy covers the dwelling, but not much inside because your renter would need their own policy to cover that.

What does the personal liability part of my policy cover? Will the insurer pay for medical expenses as well?

This is also a very important part of the policy that many people underinsure or don't care about, but it has the potential to be your biggest loss. The liability on a home policy protects you from potential financial loss if someone decides to sue you personally. This is for injuries real or perceived whether they happen on your property or outside of your property. Let's say I am playing golf, and I'm not a very good golfer, and I hit a ball that shoots right off and nails my playing partner in the eye. He wasn't wearing protective eyewear (even though I told him he should) and unfortunately loses that eye. Then he sues me! My liability would cover my losses up to the limit on the policy, which is $500,000. So he has surgery, loses the eye, can't continue to do what he was doing for a living and sues me for the medical damages, loss of income and just plain old suffering. Sues me for $400,000. Fortunately, my policy's liability limit covers me for that- it would also pay for my defense in the lawsuit. Another aspect of the liability is called "personal Injury" coverage which covers you for slander or libel, and is more important now than ever with social media. If I got on Facebook and called my neighbor a dummy for spray painting his house (I wouldn't do that though, I'm a nice guy) and he gets so upset with me he sues me. The liability under my policy would pay for my defense and pay out any judgment up to the limit on the policy. This coverage is actually very important these days, ESPECIALLY if you have teenagers. There is also a portion of the policy called medical payments, which would pay out the listed limit if someone gets hurt on your property. The medical payments portion of a home policy is different from the auto policy in that in the home policy, the medical payments is just for non-members of household. The home insurance policy does not provide medical insurance coverage for members of your own household.

Do you have anymore tips for someone who is out their home insurance policy?

Be sure to find an agent that insures your home to replacement value, not just the market value. In Georgia, the home market for sales is pretty depressed- people are buying 4,000 square feet home for $200,000, which is a great deal. But if that 4k square foot home burned down, and you were only insuring it for $200,000, you're only going to be able to build back half of the house. The cost to build a new home from scratch, without the builder getting the benefits of a mass production like he would in a new subdivision, with labor and new materials, is almost always going to be higher than the price you've purchased the home unless you are living on a beach or right downtown. Just make sure they have the home insured correctly! Also, make sure they include personal injury coverage and have good enough liability limits for you. And ask about extra coverage for valuable jewelry or fine arts that may be limited under the home policy. Price is important, sure, but making sure you have the coverage that will get you back to whole after a total loss is more important!

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

You can get instant quotes on our website: www.burnetteinsurance.com And follow us on facebook at www.facebook.com/burnetteinsurance or twitter @burnettinsu Or, we always love phone calls: 770-339-8888.

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