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Homeowners Insurance Information
Because everyone's needs are not the same, it is best to consult your agent to help assess your needs and find the insurance policy that is right for you.
What is Homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard policy insures the home itself and the things you keep in it.
Our affordable Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. This includes damage caused by household pets.
Damage caused by most disasters is covered but there are exceptions. The most significant are damage caused by floods, earthquakes and poor maintenance. You must buy two separate policies for flood and earthquake coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility.
Why do you need homeowners insurance?
It is really all about protecting yourself financially if something unexpected happens to your home or possessions. That's important because chances are your home is likely one of your largest investments.
- If your home was destroyed by fire or damaged by a natural disaster, you'd need money to repair or replace it.
- If a guest in your home is injured, liability protection and medical coverage help pay expenses.
- If you are a victim of theft and vandalism, it can reimburse you for your loss or pay for repairs.
- If you are still paying for your home, your lender will require insurance.
It is important to know that affordable homeowners insurance is meant to cover unexpected damage, not routine maintenance. Ask your agent to talk about what is covered and be sure to read your policy so you know exactly what's included and what is not.
Things to consider and questions to ask your agent
Here are few things to discuss with your agent that will influence your decisions.
- How much will it cost to rebuild my house and replace my belongings if they are damaged or destroyed? (Ask your agent to talk you through your home's features and the things you own so you can make an informed decision about coverage.)
- Does the insurance company have a good reputation for customer service? Is it known for paying claims fairly and promptly?
- What discounts are available? (Ask about multiple policy, security system and fire resistance discounts.)
- What's the process for filing and settling a claim? (Ask who to call and what happens after you file a claim.)
Affordable Homeowners Insurance Q&A
Homeowners insurance is one of the broadest types of risk coverage you can buy. In genera, it spans coverage to the roof over your head, the shirt on your back and yes, even your kitchen sink. Homeowners insurance also protects you, your family members and your pets, if someone else is hurt at your home or away from it. But, most people don't have any idea what is covered in their policy and maybe even most importantly, what isn't covered in the agreement.
The following questions cover most of the basics of homeowners insurance, but it's imperative that you do an annual check-up with your agent or company representative to review your policy and coverage limits for you and your family's safety.
Do I really need Insurance for my home?
Yes. Insurance is your protection against the many property and liability risks you face as an owner or a renter. For example, if someone were to sue you for damage or an injury caused by you or your property, the cost of defending that suit could run into the thousands of dollars just for legal fees-regardless of the outcome of the suit. And if you were to lose your home due to a fire or to have the contents damaged or stolen, you probably couldn't afford to replace everything all at once. This is why mortgage lenders, as a rule, make it mandatory to have homeowners insurance.
Since my homeowners insurance is a portion of my monthly mortgage payment, who actually decides what insurance to get. Is it my responsibility or is the decision left up to the mortgage lender?
You decide on what insurance to get and keeping the policy updated is your responsibility. It is your home and your insurance policy. As a means of protecting their investment, some mortgage companies collect a set amount from you each month, put it in escrow, and then pay your insurance and taxes when they fall due. However, the policy is still yours and you should select the insurance you feel offers the best coverage for you at the best rates.
What exactly does an Affordable Homeowners Insurance policy cover?
With about 900 insurance companies writing property/casualty policies in the United States, individual homeowners policies can certainly vary. However, 80 percent of homeowners policies are based on a standard form, and all homeowners policies cover two important areas: Liability and Property. With that being said, your policy may cover you for an additional living expenses should your home not be livable for a period of time due to a covered peril.
At a minimum, homeowners insurance usually covers damage caused by:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Theft or vandalism
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Freezing of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or other such household system
Are the backyard shed and my television covered in my homeowners policy?
Yes. Real property and personal property are covered. The value of your real property - your home, garage, shed, and other structures- is generally based on the value of the main structure, the house itself. So, if the house were insured for $75,000, other auxiliary structures would be covered for 10% of that, or $7,500 worth of damages.
Covered personal property includes the contents of your home and personal belongings used, owned, worn, or carried by you or members of your household-basically, everything and the kitchen sink! This coverage is lso based on the house coverage, and there are limits on the losses that can be claimed. Higher limits can be purchased for both real and personal property.
What does a homeowners insurance policy cover?
State laws may dictate how losses are to be figured, which means the same insurance company may use one method in one state and a different method in a nother. The common methods are:
- Actual Cash Value: The replacement cost of the item minus depreciation. For example, a new television set may cost $500. but if your 7 year-old TV gets damaged in a fire, it might have depreciated 50% prior to the damage. Therefore, you would be paid $250 for that set.
- Replacement Coverage. The cost of replacing an item without deducting for depreciation, but limited to a maximum dollar amount. Today's cost for a TV set with features similar to the 7-year-old one that was damaged by fire would determine the amount of compensation. If it still costs $500 today, that would be a replacement coverage. (It's important to remember that there are limits on this policy and you should do your due diligence to keep up-to-date on your coverage).
- Extended Replacement Cost. An extended replacement cost policy, one that covers costs up to a certain percentage over the limit (usually 20%). This gives you protection against such things as a sudden increase in construction costs.
Important Note: Replacement value should not be confused with market value. The market value is what your house, for example, would actually sell for and is generally more than the replacement cost. This is because replacement value does not include the land-which almost always doesn't need to be replaced.
Check your policy. If you prefer replacement or extended replacement coverage and don't already have it, this coverage can be added to your policy. Typically, the difference in premiums is 10 to 15 percent to upgrade from actual cash value coverage to replacement coverage. Your agent can advise you of the costs and benefits.
How much can I expect to be paid for damage to my personal property?
Your policy lists the specific monetary limits for personal property under what is called "Special Limits." Those limits usually are:
- $200 for money, bank notes, gold and silver (other than gold ware and sliverware), platinum, coins and medals.
- $1,000 on securities, accounts, deeds, evidences of debt, letters of credit, notes (other than bank notes), manuscripts, passports, tickets and stamps.
- $1,000 on watercraft, including their trailers, furnishings, equipment, and outboard motors.
- $1,000 on trailers not used for watercraft.
- $1,000 for loss by theft of jewelry, watches, furs, precious and semiprecious stones.
- $2,000 for loss by theft of firearms.
- $2,500 for loss by theft of silverware, silver plated ware, gold ware, gold-plated ware and pewter ware.
- $2,500 for loss on property on the resident premises used for business and $250 on property damaged or lost away from the premises
- If these limits seem low to you (maybe that engagement ring is worth well more than $1,000), you may wish to talk to your agent about additional coverage for specific items.
Remember that homeowners insurance is designed to cover general personal possessions, not valuable collections like antiques, jewelry or original art. Insurance companies deliberately limit their coverage of expensive possessions so that household premiums are more affordable to everyone. After all, if they had to cover museum-level art collections under standard homeowners policies, we would all end up paying higher premiums to cover those expensive items.
What about if I go on vacation? Does Affordable Homeowners Insurance cover my possessions then?
Yes. Homeowners insurance is a package of insurance coverage that extends to all your possessions no matter where they are. If you take a round-the-world vacation and lose a valuable item, as long as the loss is by a covered event or peril, the location does not matter, you're going to be covered.
The liability component extends well beyond the boundaries of your home. Should you be found legally at fault for injury or loss to another individual, whether you unfortunately and unintentionally cause a tumble down hill in San Francisco or a fall in an Kansas barn, for example, your homeowners policy likely will cover you.
As in the property section of a homeowners policy, there are limits and exclusions to personal liability. Your business activities, for example, are not covered under your homeowners policy. You are also not covered for injuries or damage you deliberately cause Your policy lists specific exclusions and limits.
What Isn't Covered by Affordable Homeowners Insurance?
What about floods, earthquakes and other catastrophes?
Many homeowners policies cover damage caused by "just about anything," unless specifically excluded. Most catastrophes are covered. For example, wind damage from hurricanes or tornadoes is covered as a windstorm peril.
However, flood damage and earthquake damage are NOT covered by a standard homeowners policy. A separate policy is required.
Why aren't floods and earthquakes covered by my homeowners policy?
Flood and earthquake activity is more widespread than many people realize. Nine out of ten Americans live in seismically active areas. Since 1900, earthquakes have occurred in 39 states and caused damage in all 50. And if your home is located in a flood-prone area, you are 26 times more likely to suffer flood damage than fire damage.
You may want to check with your agent about special catastrophic policies for normally excluded conditions like floods and earthquakes.
Are there any other exclusion I should know about?
There may be other exclusions spelled out in your policy such as neglect, intentional loss, "earth movement (landslide)", general power failure and even damage caused by war. If you neglect to take care of your property (i.e., a leaky roof), you may not be covered. Obviously, if you intentionally lose an object or damage your property, there is no coverage.
One other exclusion that can be costly is the "Ordinance or Law" exclusion. Building codes that drive up the cost of rebuilding or repairing 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 you must replace all the wiring in your home following a fire, and the current building code in your area requires a higher grade of electrical wiring, 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.
Laws and building codes are constantly being updated. Coverage to include ordinance or law requirements can be added to your homeowners policy with an endorsement-an addition that could save you money in the long run.
If you are looking for Affordable Homeowners Insurance, contact us today
to learn more about how you can protect your house and your family!