Insuring your home or business is one of the most important things you can do. Whether your home suffers a natural disaster, fire or plumbing catastrophe, insurance provides the coverage to protect your assets. I recently had the pleasure of catching up with East End resident and insurance agent Bret Pahwul of Harbor Financial Partners. He offered some great tips.
It’s important to do your homework and understand what each insurance policy offers. An experienced agent can guide you in the right direction and offer peace of mind for you and your family.
What advice do you offer potential clients about basic insurance?
The best suggestion I can give is to prepare yourself for how you would use your insurance, if and when the time comes. This will save you money and protect your assets more effectively. Your broker/agent will be there to advise you, but often it’s after the fact, when the clock cannot be turned back. I assist my clients in writing a one page-game plan with helpful bullet points, such as; important contact numbers, pre-authorization requirements, damaged property registries, and so forth.
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, have any policy underwriting guidelines changed?
You can still insure just about any property on the East End, but the number of cost effective options are slowly dwindling and new accounts are subject to much greater scrutiny.
Tell us about the importance of flood insurance and knowing your flood zone.
Flood insurance is an enigma to most—one of the most misunderstood and underutilized types of insurance out there. Homeowners insurance usually provides protection from floods that result inside the home, ie. pipes bursting, excluding coverage for damage resulting from floods outside the home, such as rising waters or heavy rain storms. It is essential to carry a separate flood policy.
Flood zones are determined by FEMA and are based on the likelihood of a property flooding over time. When purchasing a new home, understanding the zone ahead of time will help you anticipate the additional overhead entailed in the purchase. FEMA periodically updates their maps, which can affect properties for better or worse. However, there are options to contest a change and you are best served by contacting a local insurance broker/agent.
Tell us about Harbor Financial Partners
Harbor Financial Partners is a full service agency specializing in serving businesses and individuals on the East End. Aside from being able to offer the most competitive options, running a successful agency is all about relationship building. After a decade in the insurance business, I believe the most important relationship is between the policyholder and their broker/agent, so when I created Harbor Financial Partners, my goal was to focus on and cultivate this relationship. When a service issue arises, clients deal directly with the producer who sold them the policy, instead of being passed off to a customer service rep they have never met. This leaves less room for error, quickens the response time and doesn’t leave the client feeling slighted. I believe every client interaction is a new opportunity to strengthen this bond, this makes the difference between a short-term customer and lifelong client.
Tell us about yourself and what you love about living in the Hamptons.
I was born and raised in Sag Harbor, attended Pierson High School and lifeguarded at Sagg Main Beach. After graduating college and a brief stint at a hedge fund in New York, I looked forward to getting back to the quality of life the Hamptons had to offer with wildlife, nature and water surroundings at all times. I knew this is where I wanted to lay my roots and also where I found the love of my life, Erin Keneally, whom I recently wed on the island of Vieques. We reside in Sag Harbor with our two Jack Russell mixes, Hudsen and Tucker.
Since I started the business, free time is sparse, but in addition to having dinner with friends and beach volleyball in the summers, I enjoy giving back to the community as secretary of the Bridgehampton Lions Club and president of Have a Heart Community Trust.
On a final note:
The key to finding the best insurance option available is time. Give yourself enough lead time to allow your broker/agent to leave no stone unturned.
For more information on life, health, disability, home, auto, commercial, long-term care, annuities and Medicare supplement insurance, please contact Bret O. Pahwul at Harbor Financial Partners, 11 Main Street, Southampton, 631-899-1245