Insurance News
October 23, 2016
Milford Twp. Couple Escapes Early a.m. Fire

Risk Planning Spares Homeowners from Total Loss

Like most Upper Bucks families, Paul B. of Milford Twp. felt certain the worst case scenario couldn’t happen to him. But when he awoke to the shriek of his smoke detectors shortly before 4:00 a.m. on February 13th, that all changed.

Paul and his family made it out unscathed. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his belongings. Nor for the home he’d worked so hard to care for over many years. His finished basement—and all of its contents—were total losses. Smoke and water damage left the rest of the house uninhabitable.

“It’s hard to describe that feeling,” Paul said. “It felt like our whole world had caved in.”

Recovery, it turned out, was possible thanks to Paul’s close relationship with his insurance agency. Brian Benner, principal of Milford Twp.-based Warren Weiss Agency, arrived shortly after the fire department.

Benner and team began work with Paul and his wife the very same day.

“Without someone to guide you, the claims process can be tricky,” said Benner. “In scenarios like these, we never let our clients go it alone with adjusters. So we get started right away.”

“I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for over thirty years,” said Paul. “No matter how many blazes you battle, it’s different when it happens to you.”

Benner, a third-generation agency owner, knows the feeling. Shortly after assuming ownership of Weiss Agency, a building fire nearly took out the entire business.

“We experienced tragedy first-hand,” said Benner. “Thanks to some careful planning, and our extended family at Erie, we made it through to the other side. But we realized then that many families and businesses never recover from catastrophe.”

In an odd way, Benner explained, the fire that nearly destroyed them became a fire within them. He credits the experience with giving Weiss Agency a renewed sense of purpose, and of the importance of thorough risk planning.

Paul can vouch for that.

“Brian, Leanna and everyone at Erie really handled everything for us, so I looked up one day and realized even after it felt like everything had been taken away from us, we were still living. Not just surviving, but living.”

Benner, a Certified Insurance Counselor, takes his role very seriously. “We all see a lot of TV commercials making fire or flood or freak accidents at home look funny, easy or even unlikely. The chaos, mayhem and aftermath are anything but comical—especially with most of the large national carriers.”

Weiss Agency, founded by Benner’s grandfather, partners with Erie Insurance, among other carriers. The close relationship with Erie allows Weiss Agency to create tailored Risk Management plans, ensuring an appropriate level of protection. “Most homeowners do not understand the coverage they do have,” notes Benner, “and worse, they usually do not have enough coverage for what they need—which is not always determined by the size house you live in or the neighborhood you reside in.”

Leanna Knight, Personal Lines Manager, adds, “Instead of providing instant online quotes or boilerplate policies that assume a lot of things about you, we have typically spent some very valuable hours with our clients, getting to know them and understanding what they have, and who and what means the most to them. That way, we can match the elements of risk plans to the lifestyles of our clients.”

“Risk Management is much more than just having proper insurance. It involves understanding your biggest exposures, and then creating a plan to protect yourself from those exposures based on your personal preferences, financial realities and long-term objectives,” said Benner.

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