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Tips for Home Insurance Shoppers: an interview with the New England Region President of NGM Insurance, Steve Berry

By Steve Berry

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

The Main Street America Group's NGM Insurance Company was founded in 1923 in Keene, N.H., to provide auto liability insurance to members of the Grange Fraternity. Today, we serve more than 650,000 policyholders in 45 states with full lines of personal and commercial insurance, as well as surety and fidelity bonds.

Our NGM Charitable Foundation supports local non-profit organizations focused on health and welfare, educational, cultural and civic needs. In 2013, the Foundation donated $135,000 to worthwhile causes throughout New England and other markets where our company has operations. Nearly $50,000 of this much-needed support was the result of our employees' generosity, whose personal donations were matched dollar-for-dollar by the Foundation.

What facts should I gather about my new house before I start shopping? (i.e., age of electrical, energy efficient additions, etc.)

  • Age of systems, which includes electrical, heating and plumbing
  • Type of material for plumbing-is it copper, PVC, galvanized
  • Electrical system, is it 100 amp circuit breakers? Any active knob and tube?
  • Roof age
  • Loss history
  • Supplemental heat information (i.e., wood stove)
  • Construction type (i.e., frame, brick)

How can the location of my home affect my insurance costs?

From a location standpoint, the property distance to a fire station and fire hydrant can affect your homeowners' insurance costs. Insurance Services Office protection classes are established and defined by address location. Depending on how high or low the protection class, this will determine the effect on a rate.

How do I make sure I am not underinsured? What does it mean to make sure I insure my home to "replacement value"?

By working with your local independent insurance agent to complete a home cost estimator that NGM Insurance Company provides on our website, www.msagroup.com, you can capture all dwelling details and it will calculate your replacement cost value for using current market data for building costs, including material costs and labor.

In your personal opinion, is it worth it to get additional coverage for some of the valuable items in my home?

For certain items, there is value in scheduling the property so that you can obtain full replacement cost without being subject to your policy deductible or depreciation. Scheduling personal property offers broader coverage including "mysterious disappearance." In addition, there are limits placed on certain types of items that can significantly reduce the dollar coverage amount you receive should you have a claim. Policies vary depending on the form and the insurance carrier. This is why it's so important to speak with a Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent who has the knowledge of these and can match your needs to the policy best suited for your property.

Can I save money on my monthly premium if I add certain safety features to my home?

Most insurance carriers offer policyholders savings if they have certain safety features. You can save from upwards of 15 percent depending on the type of protective devices you have installed in your home. For instance, smoke alarms, central station alarms, as well as automatic sprinklers will all help increase your discounts. Some carriers may vary in terms of offerings and discounts and that is where your independent agent is your best source of information and know how to get you the maximum credit you deserve.

How can I ensure that I am working with a home insurance provider that I trust?

Make sure your insurance carrier is a highly rated company that can pay your claim when the time arises. Check their A.M. Best financial strength rating and go with an "A" rated carrier for the best piece of mind. NGM Insurance Company is an A.M. Best "A" rated carrier that has been serving New England residents for more than 90 years. Having that kind of proven track record is important as well. Remember that you may be able to find cheaper insurance rates but the ability to pay a claim may not necessarily exist if and when you need that carrier. At the end of the day, having a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent who works with only "A" rated carriers is your safest bet.

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

NGM sells our products exclusively through Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents who offer choice and expertise for their clients. You can find an agent near you by visiting our website at www.msagroup.com and clicking on our "Agent Locator. In addition, you'll find other information about our company and our products and services. You can also find out more about NGM on our Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter.

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