For most people, a home is their single most valuable possession—and their biggest investment.
Home Insurance protects your investment as well as you, the members of your family, and your household possessions. If you were to suddenly lose your home due to fire or a tornado or have the contents damaged or stolen, like most of us, you probably could not afford to replace everything all at once. Also, if somebody sued you for an injury or damage caused by you or your property, the cost of defending that suit could run into thousands of dollars just for legal fees—regardless of the outcome of the suit. These situations are covered by the Homeowners package policy. And while it may be unpleasant to think about fire, theft, and other uncertainties of life, they are there and things happen. Another reason you need to carry Home Insurance is that mortgage lenders require it. No mortgage company will lend the large amounts of money needed to finance homes at today’s prices without requiring Home Insurance to protect that investment.
Is there anything I can do to lower my premiums?
Because your Home Insurance is based on the level of risk the insurance company must take, there are things you can do to lower your premium. Installing deadbolt locks (to discourage theft), fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and burglar and fire alarms that alert your local police and fire stations can often save you up to 15 percent on your premium. Check with your Home Insurance agent before purchasing any of these items to see if your insurance carrier has specific requirements to qualify for the discount. Many insurers also offer discounts if you insure both your home and automobile with the same company. Another way to save may be to increase the deductible on your Home Insurance policy. A deductible of $1,500 or $2,500 will produce considerable premium savings. A higher deductible also means you will be taking care of smaller losses yourself and not turning in claims for them. Fewer claims result in lower premiums.
Also, it pays to shop around for insurance coverage just like anything else. Of course, keep in mind that the extent of coverage also determines the premium cost, so the cheapest policy is not necessarily the best. Our agents can help you evaluate the different policies and companies to find the one most suitable for you.
Renters need Home Insurance too.
The same rule of thumb applies to renters as to homeowners. If catastrophe struck tomorrow, could you afford to replace everything you own? Or if you were sued, would you have enough money to pay legal fees and possibly settle the suit? If not, chances are you would benefit from the protection that Renters Home Insurance brings. Renters insurance offers the same general personal property coverage and liability protection as an Owner-Occupied Home Insurance policy. Thus, your camera is insured while you are on vacation, and you are covered if your grandfather clock crashes into the apartment lobby’s wall and leaves a gaping hole. In fact, most policies are surprisingly extensive and may include additional living expenses (also called loss-of-use coverage) if you are forced by fire or other insured damage to live elsewhere.
Does Home Insurance provide coverage for catastrophic losses?
While a standard Home Insurance policy provides coverage for Wildfire and Windstorm losses, they do not automatically cover Earthquakes, without special endorsement. If Earthquake is a concern for you, then make sure to ask for Earthquake coverage to be added to your Home Insurance policy. Damage by Flood and Rising Water is also not covered by Home Insurance policies. If Flood is a concern for you, then ask for a separate Flood Insurance policy, underwritten by the Federal Government.
Are there exclusions in Home Insurance policies that I should know about?
There are exclusions spelled out in your policy such as neglect, intentional loss, “earth movement,” general power failure and even damage caused by war. If you neglect to take care of your property (e.g., a leaky roof), you may not be covered. Obviously, if you intentionally “lose” an object or intentionally damage your property, there is no coverage. Another exclusion that can be costly is the Ordinance or Law exclusion. Building codes established by governmental bodies that drive up the cost of rebuilding or repairing after a loss occurs may not be covered by your insurance policy. Thus, if you discover when replacing damaged property that current law demands higher grade or more expensive materials than the original ones being replaced, the new materials may not be covered for the full price. For example, if the current building code in your area requires a higher grade of electrical wiring and after a fire you replace all the wiring in your home, your policy may cover only the cost of replacing the older wiring. The difference in cost between the old wiring and the new wiring required by Ordinance or Law is your responsibility. Even if you live in a new home, laws and building codes are constantly being updated. Coverage to include Ordinance or Law requirements can be added to your Home Insurance policy with an endorsement—an addition that could save you money in the long run.
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