Homeowners Insurance Questions You Need to Ask ASAP
Don’t jump into a policy without asking yourself or others the following:
1. What does a standard homeowners insurance policy cover?
Most standard homeowners insurance policies include four main types of coverage:
Dwelling coverage: Covers your home’s physical structure
Personal property coverage: Covers the personal belongings inside the home
Liability coverage: This covers costs related to any bodily injury sustained by someone in your home
Additional expenses coverage: This includes any extra living expenses that might come up if you’re displaced from your home (e.g., hotel costs, transportation).
Some companies might offer additional coverage that you can add to your core policy based on your needs. For instance, maybe you have underground utility lines that you want to protect with your insurance policy. In that case, you can add underground utility line coverage on top of your standard policy.
2. Do I also need flood insurance?
Where you live will inevitably influence the type of coverage you buy. If you live in an area that gets lots of extreme, wet weather, it’s probably a good idea to get a separate flood insurance policy and protect against water damage. In fact, your mortgage lender might require you to do so. Flood insurance is rarely included with your home insurance policy. You usually have to buy a separate policy.
Keep in mind flood insurance is different from hazard insurance. Hazard insurance tends to be a more general term that refers to the parts of your policy that protect your home against fire damage, theft, or damage from other natural disasters. The price of your hazard insurance varies based on where you live.
3. How are homeowners insurance rates calculated?
Several factors go into calculating your home insurance rate. One of the significant factors is your personal claims history. If you’ve filed several home insurance claims in the past, you’re seen as a higher risk and might have to pay higher rates to offset this risk.
The condition of your home also plays a factor. Older homes are seen as having a higher risk of property damage. The same can be said for homes with structural flaws. And if your home is in a dangerous neighborhood, it’s seen as having a higher risk for theft and vandalism, which can bump your rates up. If you have a large home, the replacement cost of that home is higher, which means your home insurance rates will also be higher.
4. How much home insurance do I need?
You want to make sure you’re buying the right amount of insurance coverage. Too much, and you might be getting scammed. Too little, and you might not have enough coverage to keep your home protected.
Ultimately home insurance plans involve different levels of protection. The first level is actual cash value. This covers the value of your home and its belongings, keeping in mind how the cost of these things will depreciate over time.
The next level of coverage is replacement cost, which covers the actual cash value of your home but doesn’t take depreciation into account. This is considered a more robust type of coverage because it means your home will return to its original value once it’s rebuilt.
Consider your financial situation and position in life. If you’re buying a home that you plan on living in for years and years to come, you might want the ability to rebuild your home to its original value—which makes replacement value the level of coverage you want.
5. What should I set my deductible at?
A deductible refers to the amount of money you pay to handle a claim before the insurance company steps in and covers repair costs. For instance, if your deductible is set at $1,000, that’s the amount you’ll pay to handle claims before your provider gets involved.
If you set a higher deductible, your annual insurance premiums will be lower. You might find that you prefer paying lower yearly costs. But if that’s the case, just remember that a higher deductible could mean you have to chip in more on repairs if your home sustains property damage.
6. How much personal liability protection do I need?
Personal liability protection keeps you and your family covered if there is an injury on your property. This form of coverage means you aren’t on the hook for medical bills or legal payments.
In general, your liability protection is included in the home insurance policy and isn’t bought separately. Typically, $100,000 worth of liability insurance is included in a standard homeowners insurance policy, but this can be raised if you feel you need more coverage.
7. How can I save on my home insurance?
There are plenty of ways to save on home insurance. One strategy involves minimizing risk. For instance, if you live in a dangerous area, your home insurance company will appreciate it if you install a security system or deadbolt. This lowers your chance of filing a claim for theft, just like installing smoke detectors or sprinkler systems will reduce your chances of filing a claim for fire damage.
You can also save on home insurance by taking advantage of popular discounts. For instance, you can earn a multi-policy discount when you bundle your home insurance and auto insurance. This is an easy way to save and means you can deal with one insurance company for all of your home and auto needs.
8. Which insurance company should I buy homeowners insurance from?
That’s the million-dollar question! (Well, hopefully, you aren’t paying a million dollars for homeowners insurance.) As you browse providers, you might find you want the stability and reach of a large nationwide provider like Allstate or State Farm. Or you might decide you want the personal touch of a local insurance agent.
If you live on a “high-risk” property, a local insurance company is probably the right idea. A local company will know the area and can give you the personalized attention you need.
Before you settle on an insurance company, compare as many homeowners insurance quotes as possible. To help you in your search, use Insurify to compare quotes all in one place and find the right policy for you and your family members.
9. What are policy limits?
A policy limit (or coverage limit) refers to the maximum amount your provider will pay for a claim. For instance, if you own a $500,000 home, your dwelling coverage limit will be the replacement cost of the house, which is $500,000. Additional living expenses will also kick in if you’re displaced from your home after an incident.
The rest of your policy limits are typically related to the cost of the dwelling. Personal property coverage is often 50 percent of the dwelling coverage limit. Always remember to keep your home inventory checklist up to date to have peace of mind knowing if anything were to happen your home insurance claim will include the full dollar amount of your personal property.
10. Do I need an umbrella policy?
You can think of umbrella insurance as an extra layer of protection in the event of a massive insurance claim.
Say you’re sued for someone’s bodily injury on your property, and the legal fees exceed the liability limits of your homeowners policy. In those extreme instances, umbrella insurance will undoubtedly come in handy.
As always, evaluate your financial situation and determine if adding an umbrella policy to your homeowners insurance is worthwhile.
11. How does homeowners insurance differ from renters insurance?
Homeowners insurance lives up to its name: it’s insurance for people who own homes. Meanwhile, renters insurance is for people who are merely renting their living space. That’s why renters insurance just covers the personal belongings in your home. After all, your landlord is the one responsible for the physical structure of your home, not you.
Renters insurance is recommended but not required. It can certainly come in handy if there is theft of or damage to the personal property in your rental.
12. Will I need a home inspection before getting home insurance?
In most cases, you’ll need a home inspection before buying home insurance. The inspection is a way for insurance companies to assess the risks in your home so that they can accurately calculate your rates.
Before your home is inspected, you’ll want to remove any debris from your property that will get in the way of a thorough inspection. For instance, clear any leaves from your gutters and ensure these gutters are securely attached before the inspection.