I sat with my own insurance broker, who I’ve used for over 15 years, to discuss the advantages of using an insurance broker rather than researching and using online information or direct insurance companies. I also wanted to discuss how different policies differ and if cost is always reflection of what you actually get.
Barbara: What is the value of using an insurance agent vs. buying online? Does it cost more to do so?
Ron: There are 3 main ways of buying coverage; online or through a 800#, through a local agent who represents only one product, or through an independent agent, who has access to many carriers. The perception is that if you cut out the middle man you will obtain a lower price, but that is not always the case. Since the premiums/rates are filed with the State, each carrier may be more competitive in one market than another, depending on who they decide to service. For example, a company like Chubb may be more competitive for their target market of high value homes, where another carrier may not want to write a policy of over a million or their premiums would be too high. You need to evaluate each company to see how they compare. That is where an insurance agent can be helpful.
Barbara: Is price a direct reflection of coverage?
Ron: Price is relative. You can take two policies and put them side by side. A company may be less than the premium of company B, but A many not be better choice. You need to really review what is included in the coverage form. If B is a much broader coverage for your needs, it may be a better choice.
An example of this is: A includes “named perils”, while B is broader and says “all risk subject to exclusions and limitations form,” or if A includes just $5000 of sewer and drain backup versus full limits for B, or if B provides “non-owned auto liability” within the homeowners contract (which may be relevant to people who don’t own a car but rent one when needed), you may opt for B.
Barbara: Should you combine homeowners with car insurance always? Is it more cost effective, or should you evaluate separately?
Ron: Again, combining auto insurance with homeowners is not always the best choice. Companies encourage that because they want to retain that client and will offer an account discount. However, even with discount, if you can separate the coverage and do better in terms of cost and coverage, then it makes more sense to separate it. Can’t assume if put together get a good deal.
Barbara: Deductibles: Should you always go for minimal deductibles?
Ron: Each company has different credits for a higher deductible, so again, it goes back to individual evaluation. Say Company A gives you a credit of $150 to go from $1000 to $2500 deductible, but Company B gives you an $800 credit, you’d go for B.
Barbara: With recent Hurricane Sandy, can people not in a flood zone get flood insurance?
Ron: When not in a flood zone, flood insurance is very inexpensive. But, need to determine why you want it. If thinking to cover your basement, insurance is very limited in covering contents besides equipment such as the furnace. In flood zones, its much more expensive and need to obtain an elevation certificate to write flood insurance in high flood zones. Max limits under a flood policy are $250,000 for dwelling and $100,000 for contents.
Barbara: Besides cost, can you tell my readers the other value of hiring an insurance broker. I know personally what it is after how you helped us through Hurricane Sandy damage, but could you give another example.
Ron: Insurance brokers should be there for you through the life of your policy, not just when you purchase it. If there is a claim, they should be able to be the interface between you and the company and your advocate if you are having issues collecting. I recently had a client after Hurricane Sandy where medicines were spoiled when power was lost. The spoilage was several thousand dollars. Company declined the claim. I believed they misinterpreted the policy, called the adjuster and they reversed their decision and paid.
Barbara: Thanks Ron.
A. Zeeman Company, Inc. the insurance agency Ron Altman is part of was started in 1940 by Abe Zeeman (Ron’s grandfather on his mothers side). So, Ron is third generation. They write all forms of insurance including personal, commercial, life, health and disability, long term care. Licensed in 13 states and represent the top companies in the market. They are located in Mt. Kisco, NY.
Want a personal referral to Ron. Call/txt me at 914-523-5087.
The Cranwell Resort and Spa in Lenox is especially popular in the summer, due to its proximity to Tanglewood and its 18 hole beautiful golf course. It has 117 rooms that are spread between the Mansion with 13 rooms, (the original 100 year old Tudor building) and several outlaying buildings. The Olsted and the Carriage House are ideally connected to the Spa.
The winter months also draw both couples (like us), and families because of the indoor glass domed heated olympic size pool as well as proximity to the several ski slopes in the area including Butternut Ski Resort in Great Barrington.
This weekend was particularly cold, wind chills near zero, so we found that the families were all at the pool! Advantage of traveling to a resort with an alternate activity.
The Spa is a highlight for those who enjoy being pampered,but you need to book in advance. It does get busy. They have steam and suana as well as whirlpool. My favorite room is their “Quiet Room” where no cell phones or talking. Nice fireplace, low lighting, where can just read or wait for spa treatment.
Breakfast is served for all in The Music Room. There is a combination of a buffet (which is really worth it based upon the ala carte prices) as well as a la carte menu. Buffet has both hold and cold as well as an omelet station manned by the chef who has been there for years.
Dinner is served either in Wyndhurst Room (picture above) or in The Music Room. What my husband and I appreciate it is that they keep couples (like ourselves) in the The Wyndhurst Room so we can enjoy the fine dining, while they put folks with boisterous families in The Music Room. Both rooms are equally nice and serve same menu, but it is nice to enjoy the quiet and scenary and relax during dinner. There is a fireplace in the main lobby with bar that goes between Music Room and lobby.
If looking for a good lunch place, go into downtown Lenox. There are several restaurants, but for the best healthy lunch, try Thats a Wrap located on Franklin Street (a small street between Main and Church Street. They just opened last August, its small with a big blackboard menu from salads, paninis, make your own sandwiches, to individual pizza. I had a great chicken and provolone with honey mustard panini style sandwich. Not fancy, but really good.
The Cranwell Resort and Spa is a good place for both couples or families. You can find your quiet space, or have the pool to entertain the children.
So this was the picture out for the storm in October 2011 taken out my front door (which is 16 steps down to the driveway!).
As we listen to the weather forecast yesterday where blizzard conditions were forecast with up to 2 feet of snow, with 50-60 mph winds, we all hustled out to buy water, food, and fill our cars up with gas and get that necessary salt, which doesn’t do much good when its 2 feet deep!
Yes, its snowing and right now there is about 3 inches on the ground, but the weather forecast just said that because it will turn to rain and then back to snow we will probably be getting about 6-10 inches instead with 20-30 mph winds!
Gee, I had this picture from 2011 all ready to be added to my facebook page instead of taking another one! Guess will have to wait and see to upload an “accurate” photo!
Wherever you are in Westchester County, NY, lets hope this latest forecast is accurate, we keep our lights and heat on, all trees remain standing, and it all melts on Monday when it turns back to the 40’s again!
What does $470,000 buy in a Single Family House in The Highlands section of White Plains? I just sold my second house in The Highlands within the last three months and both within 2 blocks of eachother to friends! How fun that was. Both couples with small children, moved up from the city living in apartments. Both wanted a house, but did not want to be in an isolated suburb where a car was mandatory.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, many people who are moving up from New York City, who want a house, but want to be walking distance to a city for shopping, restaurants, movies, like to look at The Highlands section of White Plains. Most of The Highlands are within a few blocks to max ¾ mile away from Mamaroneck Avenue where you can find the Showcase Cineplex 15, and numerous pubs and restaurants. Even walking distance to a ShopRite housed in City Center!
There is very little turnover in houses in The Highlands. Many of the people have lived there for over 40 years. Generally speaking, people move to retire, or as a result of a Estate sale. Over the last few years, young couples are buying these older homes (many built in the 1920”s) and renovating them. This is the case with this $470,000 home. This is a rocking chair porch home, 1852 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, eat in kitchen, with a walk up attic that can be made into two more cozy rooms (or hiding places for the kids!). It has a one car garage and a tiny backyard.( Most properties are less than .115 acres.) Although it has nice hardwood floors, and “solid bones”, it needs a total renovation to restore to its original elegance. It was owned for 55 years, and not much was done. But, for this buyer, who has family in construction and is personally handy, the convenience of being in The Highlands, the friendly nature of the neighborhood, and ability to buy a home for under $500,000 and make it his own was worth it.
The other house, just around the corner sold for $497,000, which reflected more of the condition of the house more than the size. Looking up “solds” for the last six months within a ½ mile radius, the average price was around $510,000, taking out the lowest one (that was small and on main road), and the highest one that sold for $735,000, but a new house that was built on property.
If you are interested in seeing what comes up in White Plains in the 10605 zip code, feel free to sign up for your personal ListingBook Account on the right side of this page! It is only available through real estate agents. You can sign up yourself, and put in your home parameters including location, and home details and see what is coming up in the market. Feel free to call/txt me at any time with your real estate questions. No question is too small! 914-523-5087.
My husband and I have been going to B&B’s for many years whenever we travel and have been going up to the Berkshires a few times a year since then! We usually stay more towards Egremont and Great Barrington and go up to Lenox for Tanglewood or outlets. Since we found that Weathervane Inn in Egremont closed recently, we decided to venture out and try somewhere new!
Finding the Gateways Inn in Lenox was a perfect choice. Not only is it an Inn, but it is walking distance to Lenox main street and had a Piano Bar with music Saturday night so that we didn’t have to do our normal winter activity..movies at the Triplex!
This Inn was originally the summer home of Hector Proctor (of Proctor and Gamble). It has had many Innskeepers since then, but the quarter million dollar renovation (indicated in Fodors) by the current Innskeepers Eiran and Michelle Gazit has paid off. Unlike most Inns, the rooms are updated with flat screen TV’s and some with cozy gas fireplaces. There are various sizes in the 12 rooms to fit different price ranges. When you first enter the Inn you feel welcome. Within a few minutes after taking our belongings up to our room, my husband was talking to Eiran about his extensive Scotch collection! Both Eiran’s and Michelle’s energy and enthusiasm for not only running the Inn but actually enjoy having guests is evident by their visibility. As many of you know who are frequent Inn or B&B visitors, many Innskeepers hand you a key and then just sign you out at the end. Not here!
With limited entertainment in the winter in Lenox area, having the Piano Bar and bar is a big attraction. The night we went there was a singer and two accompaniests, singing soleful lounge type music. They have an interesting late night (8:00 to 10:00 pm) Menu in addition to their early evening full menu from 6:00-8:00 pm, both excellent and have great reviews. To equal their evening fare, Michelle is up early and preparing the really thought out buffet breakfast. The morning we were there was a fresh fruit salad, home made granola, bagels, lox, fishes, tomatoes, different cheeses and of course fresh coffee and tea.
Spring/summer is their busy season and we were told they are already being booked for those summer weekends and some full weeks when Tanglewood is in full swing. Since they are only a few miles down the road, its the ideal place to spend your time. Gateways Inn is definitely a good place to check out if you are planning a weekend up in Lenox.