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Protect Your Home Sweet Home

front of two-story house

During the dry summer months in South Dakota it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of reviewing insurance coverage. Things change over the years and if it’s been awhile since your last review, then take the time to ask your agent to sit down with you (if they haven’t offered already) either over the phone or in person. It won’t take long, but it could make a world of difference if a catastrophe occurs. Matt Smith, BankWest Insurance Agent in Rapid City recalls a time in his career when reviewing a small policy for a customer paid off big for the insureds.

“About ten or so years ago, I insured many clients in the mountains and foothills of the Front Range in Colorado. Colorado was then like it is now in South Dakota–we were in a drought and the mountains were a virtual tinderbox waiting to be ignited. We had one of the worst fires ever to come through the Northern Front Range, taking out home after home – 169 homes to be exact. It was horrible, many people lost everything and the devastation was real.

As we met with our insureds, we began to understand what losing a lifetime of hard work really meant. There really aren’t words to express to someone going through something like this telling them: It’ll be okay, or It’ll get better. To be honest, some of these people would not be okay financially. People learned during that fire who had good insurance, who had a good agent and who did not. Ten years later some people are still not back to where they were. It is important to know what your insurance covers and how it works for you.

I remember one particular couple, newlyweds, just starting out and they were renting a house. They didn’t have a lot, only about $25,000 in personal property, but they came in about a month earlier looking for auto insurance. Though they had come in for an auto policy, I discovered they were renting a little cabin in the mountains, so, I talked to them about renters insurance and they thought it would be a good idea. Well, a month had passed, and out of the blue one Monday night they called my cell phone. I was actually in a different part of Colorado enjoying the long Labor Day weekend and hadn’t heard anything about the fires yet, but I quickly came up to speed as they told me what was happening. My heart broke, and all I could think was: I hope I helped get them enough coverage. As it turns out, I had, and because of their insurance they were able to put a down payment on a home of their own, which I also insured. This couple had a successful insurance experience, but not everyone else had that kind of experience. Some lost everything. One couple had let their insurance lapse on their million dollar home – and they lost it all. They were not my clients, but after that experience they became my clients.

This fire changed the way insurance companies insured those mountain homes in Colorado. Trees had to be trimmed or cleared out, grass had to be cut low to the ground, and virtually everything on the property was inspected and seen as a fuel source or non-combustible. If the owners score went above a certain number, they were unable to be insured. I don’t know if we’ll get to that point here in South Dakota, I hope we don’t, but regardless, it is a good idea to mitigate the fire risks now, so if a fire does occur, you’ll fare better than if you hadn’t.

The other thing you need is a good insurance agent. You need someone who will be there for you, who cares about you and will talk to you about the things that need to be discussed, so you don’t have a negative life changing experience. Be proactive. If you love your home, your life and your family, get an insurance review.”

Insurance products are not deposits, not FDIC insured, not insured by any federal agency, not guaranteed by any bank, and may go down in value.

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