Consumers who want to avoid paying more than they have to should compare home insurance pricing from a number of providers. This financial product is put in place to protect the single biggest purchase you are ever likely to make. To make good decisions about your home insurance coverage, you need to educate yourself about the options that are available to you.
Home insurance is available to protect your home’s structure, as well as its contents. You will also want to make sure you have protection in place so that you are not personally responsible for paying damages if someone is injured while visiting your property. Coverage is also available to protect your property from water damage that is not covered under the United States’ National Flood Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Structure and Content Insurance
While home insurance can be purchased to cover the structure of a residence, the insurance company’s definition of “structure” will vary, depending on the type of dwelling. If you live in a fully detached home, your insurance policy will cover the structure in its entirety. The policy also covers a shed or detached garage on the property.
When a homeowners’ policy is written for a condominium owner, it covers the structure of the unit only, including the drywall and light fixtures. Insuring the common area would be under the condominium association’s insurance policy and the exterior walls may be covered as well, depending on the state involved.
Structure coverage protects a homeowner against losses stemming from events that could damage or destroy the house, shed or garage. The standard perils that are covered in a homeowners’ policy include:
- Frozen Plumbing
- Weight of ice and snow
No insurance policy is going to provide protection against all potential perils. The events that are not covered are listed as exclusions. Typical exclusions on a homeowner policy are earthquakes and floods. Depending on the area where you live, you may be able to get supplemental coverage for these perils. Most homeowner insurance policies exclude claims for bacteria, mold, fungus, dry rot and wet rot.
Content insurance covers your personal property, which includes your furniture, appliances, electronics and clothing. Take some time to make a list of the items in your home. If you had to replace them because of a loss, you would be looking at a significant amount of money to do so.
Actual Cash Value versus Replacement Cost
Insurance companies offer two different kinds of contents coverage: actual cash value and replacement cost. Actual cash value coverage pays out based on how much a policyholder’s personal property is worth as of the date of the loss. If you bought living room furniture for $1,000 and at the time of the loss it was only worth $500, the insurance company would only compensate you for $500, less the amount of the deductible you chose.
Insuring your home’s contents for full replacement cost means that you would be compensated based on the cost of replacing the damaged or destroyed items by ones that are the same or identical in type and value. Buying a policy that pays out based on full replacement cost is a more expensive option than getting one that only covers you for actual cash value. You should consider your decision carefully, since you are not getting the same level of protection by getting a cash value policy.
If someone is injured while visiting your property, your homeowner policy will cover claims made by the injured person for damages. It pays for medical bills, rehabilitation costs and lost wages on behalf of the injured person.
Without liability coverage in place, you are personally responsible for paying claims made by a person who is injured while on your property. To satisfy the claim, you may be faced with having to cash in your retirement savings accounts, any non-retirement accounts you have in place and selling any items of value that you own. You could even have to sell your home to pay for the damages caused by you or a member of your household.
Under the terms of your liability coverage, the insurance company will cover legal fees incurred in defending a claim for damages. The insurance company will pay for a settlement or judgment for an amount up to the policy limit.
Water Damage Coverage
Homeowners are covered for flood damage under the federal government’s plan. Losses arising from a backed-up sewer or a drain, or an overflow from a sump pump may not be covered under a standard homeowners’ policy. When you start looking and comparing rates for home insurance, make sure you ask about adding coverage for water damage as well.
Compare Home Insurance Prices
Every company licensed to sell home insurance sets its own rates for coverage, and rates for the same level of protection do vary from company to company. Before you can start getting quotes for your coverage, take some time to consider the type of coverage you need and what level of protection you want to put in place.
Insurance is not something you want to skimp on; if you ever have to make a claim, you want to be sure that you have enough coverage in place to repair or replace any items that are damaged – including your whole home, if necessary.
When you are looking for home insurance coverage, do take the time to get quotes from several companies. Find out how much you would pay for coverage from large, national insurance providers as well as smaller companies to see how the pricing and level of service compares with different companies.
Examine the quotes carefully to make sure that you are looking at pricing for the same level of coverage from all companies. Then consider the policy provisions carefully to decide which policy will give you the right level of protection for your biggest asset at a price you can afford.
Start comparing rates on home insurance today!