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Remodeling updates that make a home more secure can actually decrease insurance costs.

COURTESY PHOTO: BROWN INSURANCE - Brown Insurance Agency, Woodburn team: left to right, Ben Vega, Joe Egli, Becky Halter, Esperanza Palma, Austin Coley, Madi EgliWhen the 2020 wildfires devastated wide swaths of western Oregon's forested region and the homes within those regions, Brown Insurance Agency in Woodburn received a huge volume of calls.

After seeing the damages many fire victims suffered, a lot of people were looking to beef up their own home insurance coverage. But disaster scenarios are the wrong time to do that.

"Over the past six months after the forest fires, we've been flooded with calls," said Joe Egli, a certified insurance councilor with Woodburn's Brown Insurance. "That is not the time to call. A lot of insurance companies put moratoriums on it."

According to policygenius.com, a moratorium is when an insurance company stops issuing or supdating policies due to the likelihood of natural disasters, such as hurricanes or wildfire.

Egli said it is prudent to have ongoing conversations with your insurance agent to avoid being caught by surprise.

"Along those lines, just establishing a relationship with an agent will help keep your insurance needs up to date. With a lot of online insurance, you don't have it there," Egli said. "A lot of life events can change those needs, like a kid moving out of your home — all phases of life."

Brown Insurance Agency

Address: 979 Young St., P.O. Box 97, Woodburn

Phone: 503-981-3841

Website: browninswoodburn.com

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays

That include home upgrades.

Founded by Dan Brown in 1963, Brown Insurance has been handling these scenarios for nearly 60 years, remaining family owned and located at the same Young Street location since its onset.

As current owners of the business, the Eglis — Joe and Madi — have seen a variety of factors that change coverage needs. Upgrades can be anything from adding a gazebo in the backyard to an outdoor kitchen to new counter tops or to complete remodeling.

Remodeling often increases the value of a home, but some upgrades can actually decrease insurance costs. Joe Egli said that a relatively new smart-water leak detector is an example. Others include a new roof or a home security system that allows people to monitor their home from a smart phone.

"Anything that may increase safety (helps), because then you are less likely to file a claim," Joe Egli said.

Madi Egli also stressed that it's a good idea to itemize what is in the home. Sometimes getting new jewelry or firearms or pretty much anything of significant value should also encourage a call to your agent.

That has taken on even greater importance over the past year, with more and more people working from home, as that necessitates business equipment in the home.

"If you are working from home, basically, you should talk to your agent about how much stuff you have in your home and how much of it is yours and how much is not," Joe Egli said.

And don't wait for a disaster.

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