When Meritage Homes started rolling out new houses that were already complete, the builder did it with the idea of simplifying the home buying process by reducing the amount of decision-making for the homeowner.

“We’ve tried to simplify that piece of the puzzle in order to drive down the cost that we can deliver to the customer,” explains Brian Hall, president of financial services for Meritage Homes. He notes that sometimes customers are overwhelmed by the choices, such as cabinet colors or type of counters.

Meritage then took it one step further, by simplifying the actual process: including loans, title, and homeowners insurance. To ease the buyers’ burden of hunting and applying for homeowners insurance, Meritage teamed up with Westwood Insurance Agency to establish its own insurance agency and automate the process.

Buying a new home and settling on insurance can already be a daunting activity—and that’s before the buyers have even packed and moved all their belongings. The paperwork alone can create headaches, heartaches, and all sorts of confusion with terminology and questions that are completely foreign to them.

However, many builders have worked hard to make this portion as seamless and stress-free as possible, making the experience and relationship between the buyer and builder a positive one. Thanks to collaborations with Westwood Insurance Agency, many top builders, including Meritage, have integrated the insurance offering early in the purchase process by using information already provided by the builders.

The idea of simplifying the paperwork process is meant to give the buyer the feeling that they are going through any typical online transaction, Hall explains. “I'm not sure if people are going to click the button and put the house in the cart [and] put their credit card in,” he quips. “But … we want to emulate some steps of that experience.”

This value-add reduces the burden on the buyers of having to shop around for insurance on their own and fill in the details to questions they may not have answers to immediately, such as the distance from their home to the nearest fire hydrant or the type of roofing material used. Because the builders already have this important information, much of the insurance quoting process is significantly sped up and simplified.

“We know what that house looks like [and] the details about it to the point that we can offer them a quote while they're searching online for their home and or in the process of buying their home,” Hall says. This can give buyers “instant access to their homeowners insurance.”

Home buyers also have the opportunity to bundle their insurance with car and umbrella policies, making it an easy one-stop shop. Hall says this can result in significant premium savings for the first five years.

By providing as much assistance as possible to the buyers, building companies can close on the homes quickly, with a positive experience for both parties and higher likelihood of return customers and referrals. “There are a lot of little moving parts to being a home buyer, whether it's the financing, the insurance, or the closing,” Hall says. “We really want … that to be a terrific experience all the way through.”

For more information about Westwood Insurance Agency, visit www.westwoodinsurance.com.