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Insurance Coverage for Older Homes

What a gorgeous historic home. Oh dear, is that another leak? While older homes can have a lot of character, they can also have a lot of problems. From wiring to roofing, here are some of the repair and maintenance issues that your insurance clients and your business need to understand before they ask you to insure their older home.

Zoning Regulations
Historic homes can carry more than a local family's history. They also carry the history of local building codes and zoning regulations. When you're speaking with a family about insuring their historic home, remember to ask them about add-ons such as flood insurance. If a home was built in an area that's prone to natural disasters or was grandfathered in after zoning regulations changed, a family will want to make sure that their insurance covers them in the case of emergency.

Fire Safety
Older homes are not always known for their fire safety. They were built in a time of different building codes, so their entrances, exits, and materials could be different than those found in modern homes. One area to examine carefully is the wiring. The wiring in an older home could be a combination of old and new, or it might be 60-amp electrical service, which comes with potential problems of overuse, overheating, and electrical fires. Check to see what kind of wiring a home has: the homeowner may need to shift to more modern 100 or 200 amp services.

Aches and Pains
With careful restoration, an older home can behave like a much newer one. However, many older homes are not quite as good as new, and they can experience leaks, foundation problems, and insect damage. When you're talking with clients about their older home, make sure that they know exactly what they're paying for when it comes to insurance. If they make extensive improvements to an older home, make sure that these are covered by their plan. If they have valuable art that complements the home's historic charm, this should be covered in case of leaks or other trouble.

Asking for Inspections
When you meet with a client who has an older home, the home could have features that warrant further inspection. A home oil tank might be in good condition, but if it's over 25 years old, it's best to have it replaced or adjust the home to a different kind of heating system, such as electrical or gas. A wood burning stove is also an attractive feature to some homeowners, but if it's the main heating system for a home or it's very old, it should also be inspected to ensure that it doesn't pose a fire hazard. When you're working with clients who have an older home, it pays to ask questions about their heating and other large-scale concerns such as home foundations.

You need to be informed about the construction, repair, and maintenance issues that impact your field. When you're looking for networking and continuing education, look for the backing of an insurance agent association. The American Agents Alliance is an association of insurance professionals with our annual insurance convention—the American Agents Alliance Convention and numerous membership benefits that will help you stay on top of what's going on in your field.

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