Realtor.Rock: Homeowners’ insurance key to a successful closing

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Realtor.Rock is a bi-monthly column where local Realtors share their expertise on real estate matters.

This week’s interview is with Jasper St. Angel. He is a Realtor and licensed insurance producer for St. Angel Real Estate and Insurance Agency. Jasper can be reached at (815) 979-9700 or through his Web site at

After I purchase a home, when should I start shopping for homeowners’ insurance?

Great question! In my opinion, before you even begin to think about insurance, get acquainted with your potential home and the surrounding area. Ask questions such as, “Is the property in a floodplain?”, “Does the neighborhood suffer from a high level of crime or vandalism?” A common question much overlooked is, “What is the protection class or fire district for the area?” If the property is located outside city limits, chances are you will pay more for insurance. Asking these types of questions will not only give you a better idea of your home and neighborhood—it will allow you to make a more informed decision when choosing an insurance agent. This can also be a great time to get home inspection done. A professional home inspection can uncover lurking problems in your home and show you where your home may need retrofitting or improvements, all of which will help lower your premiums.

Now that you’ve decided on the home of your dreams, don’t wait until the week of the closing, or your dreams may be put on hold. Once you’re confident that the property is in good shape, it’s time to start looking. Talk to your friends and neighbors about the insurance agent they use. If you are moving into a new home, ask the sellers or your Realtor for recommendations. It’s important to choose an agent that is reputable and licensed to operate in your state. Purchasing homeowners’ insurance is an important part of a successful real estate closing, often times taken for granted or overlooked completely in cash transactions. Dozens of insurance companies operate in every state, so making a choice can be difficult. Check out to provide you with information about carriers, prices of policies, and laws in the state of Illinois. The phone number for the Springfield office is (217) 782-4515.

What other factors will determine what a buyer will be paying for an insurance policy?

Most buyers already know their credit score, but many are not aware that they also have an insurance score. Most companies include credit-based insurance scoring as one of the factors they evaluate (along with other factors like claims history and location) to predict the level of insurance risk you represent. Evaluating these factors together helps insurers determine if you qualify for coverage, and at what rate. Remember that, just like with mortgage companies, higher insurance scores indicate lower risk to insurers, and, thus, lower premiums. Approximately 90 percent of the largest insurance carriers use this credit information for new business. If insurance scoring is used, carriers have an obligation to let you know how this information impacts your premium. Mistakes sometimes do occur, so it is important to pay close attention to the report. Contact the reporting company, and take care of any erroneous items. Ask your carrier to take another look at the report after the errors have been corrected; it could make a difference on your premium. You can check your insurance score at, or you can call them at (888) 497-0011.

I’ve heard the term CLUE or Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. What is it?

Another great question! When I tell my clients they need to get a CLUE, I’m not trying to be insulting! The acronym CLUE stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. This service provides insurance underwriters with information about claims filed under homeowners and personal auto policies. Every claim, whether or not it results in a claim payment, goes into the database. The database is shared with all insurance carriers. The information acts as a type of report card for the home or auto. Many times, this becomes a problem for sellers, buyers and Realtors when a CLUE report reveals prior claims that were not previously disclosed by a seller. A buyer may become hesitant to proceed with the transaction after finding out the home had a fire claim or a water damage claim. It would be wise for Realtors and sellers to check a CLUE report before listing a property. Again, mistakes occur, so check for accuracy. You can check your CLUE report with your insurance agent or

Lastly, I would advise that a person take some time and review their new or existing insurance policy. Ask your agent or carrier to explain it to you. Pay particular attention to the replacement cost coverage, personal property coverage, and deductible amounts. Make sure you are covered for every major peril before it happens.

James Frazier is the owner of A Defined Design-Professional Home Staging Service. He can be reached at 815-997-3212 or through his Web site at

from the June 27-July 4, 2007, issue

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