What does typical homeowners insurance cover?
A standard homeowners policy provides coverage to repair or replace your home and its contents in the event of damage from a covered peril. Perils covered include fire, smoke, theft, vandalism, water damage (not from flooding), and some weather events.
You may be familiar with the social site Reddit. But if you’re not, here’s a quick intro. Reddit is an online community forum where millions of users share news, reviews, tips, and other knowledge.
Reddit has thousands of subreddits—user-created areas of interest where multiple threads on a similar topic can be shared and upvoted when users find a post valuable. Several subreddits exist to discuss adult life and personal finance tips. These come from a diverse group of users with real experience. Our favorites are:
We combed through thousands of posts to find the best advice for getting better coverage from your home insurance policy. Let’s dig in.
1. Compare Home Insurance Rates from Top Companies—Including Your Car Insurance Provider
As the post describes, most large insurance companies have comparable customer service. The same goes for website usability, other technology, and claims processes. Furthermore, standard home insurance policies —HO-1, HO-2, and HO-3—are generally the same in coverage.
So while it’s important to consider certain perks, your best bet is to look for the company offering you the best rate. Many insurers offer a menu of discount programs, and notably, bundling home and auto insurance is often the most rewarding.
Beyond bundling, membership-based discounts, home safety features, and setting a higher deductible can also win you a better rate. Don’t forget about smaller discounts like paying in full or going paperless. Small discounts add up. And in states where rates have been increasing, like California and Louisiana, saving is more important than ever.
2. Is Home Insurance a Scam? Not When You Consider…
While you can go years without filing a claim, that doesn’t mean home insurance isn’t worth it. Sure, 10 years of home insurance premium can cost you $10,000 to $20,000 or more. But when a tornado rips through the middle of your home, you’ll be glad you’re covered.
The truth is that it doesn’t take total catastrophic damage to make those payments worth it. Burst pipes can ruin your pristine hardwood floors. A major thunderstorm can wreak havoc on your roof. Three inches of flooding in your basement can destroy flooring and appliances and cause rot, mildew, and mold damage.
Any of these very common claims can easily exceed a decade of insurance premiums.
3. Set Your Deductibles High (But Not Too High)
Homeowners get caught up on deductibles all the time, so here’s the scoop: set your deductible as high as you can reasonably afford. This helps you out in two ways. First, higher deductibles mean lower premiums. This is true for standard homeowners and specialty coverage, like flood insurance.
Second, higher deductibles provide an added incentive to avoid small claims. When the repair costs only a little more than the deductible itself, you’re more likely to pay out of pocket. While this may seem to detract from the purpose of insurance, it actually protects you from paying higher costs for necessary coverage.
Just be sure that you have the money in an emergency fund to cover that deductible when the time comes.
4. Avoid Making Small Claims—and Keep Up on Home Maintenance
You may have sensed a theme here: home insurance is for the big problems. And that’s something a lot of homeowners misunderstand. You may think insurance is to cover all property problems all the time. But it isn’t.
Replacing a few lost shingles is not the purpose of home insurance. Instead, it’s for getting a new roof when yours has seen major damage from a storm. Better yet, it’s for replacing your home when you experience a total loss.
Filing small claims, while it may save you a few hundred bucks today, will cost you a few thousand in higher premiums. Small damages are best paid out of pocket, as painful as that may seem.
Some tips to help you avoid small claims:
Keep your emergency savings well funded.
Get multiple quotes when you need a repair—quotes are usually free.
Try to work with the same contractor, as you can receive discounts.
Stay up-to-date on home maintenance.
Never leave property damage untended (it can easily get worse).
Learn new handy skills—many repairs and maintenance tasks are novice-friendly.
What’s the threshold for a claim worth filing? A good rule of thumb is between $6,000 and $10,000, depending on your savings.
5. Replacement Cost Value for the Win
While many insurance providers make replacement cost value (RCV) standard for the average home, this is not always the case. Why is RCV so important? Because it insures you for whatever the cost is to replace your damaged property, minus the deductible.
With an actual cash value (ACV) policy, you only get paid out for the value of your property minus depreciation. That means you’re stuck covering the difference, which can be thousands.
Keep in mind that your property needs to be in good condition to be eligible for RCV coverage.
6. If You Didn’t Buy a Flood Policy, Don’t File a Hail Mary Claim
Since Hurricane Ida, many homeowners have been caught off guard with uninsured flood damage. Unfortunately, standard homeowners insurance never covers flooding. In fact, most natural disasters are excluded from standard plans. To get coverage, you’ll need a separate insurance policy or a special rider.
Though it may seem like it couldn’t hurt to file a claim even when you didn’t purchase the right coverage, it can. As this Reddit user pointed out, filing a claim, even when it gets denied, puts you at risk for higher insurance premiums and non-renewal.
Our advice? Seek what you can from FEMA (if applicable). Don’t forget about government loans to help you manage the high cost of repairs. When all else fails, try using a HELOC to cover costs.
7. Add an Umbrella Policy to Your Home Insurance Plan
Umbrella insurance is an additional insurance policy that covers some of the things traditional home and auto policies miss. Think of it as extra padding, especially for liability coverage. It covers injuries, property damage, some lawsuits, and personal liability situations—like the one detailed above. Umbrella policies are also inexpensive.
Even though adding more coverage may seem like a way to pay more to your insurer, think again. Because bundling insurance packages often get you the best discounts, you can end up getting discounts for auto and home (and any other insurance plan you have with the same company). You might even end up paying less for more coverage, like this Reddit user:
8. You Can’t Make a Home Insurance Claim for Previous Homeowner Damage
Buying a new house? Found property damage that the previous owner never repaired? Don’t try to claim it.
As this Reddit user rightly points out, that’s insurance fraud. When you buy a home “as-is” (which is standard), you agree to accept any damages found. However, you can renegotiate the selling price if you have an inspection done before signing the contract.
You can also request that the seller provide you with a year of comprehensive home warranty coverage (from a top-rated company). A home warranty will replace things like your water heater, sump pump, and furnace for a flat fee.
Just be sure it’s a comprehensive package. If you have questions, your realtor should be able to assist you and recommend top companies in your area.
9. Insurance Agents and Insurance Brokers —Are They Worth It? It Depends
Independent agents, like the ones you’ll find at Insurify, are by far the most recommended by Reddit users. The reason is pretty simple: they’re (often) not obliged to one carrier. That means they’re more likely to give objective advice.
But it’s not always better. Some insurers offer better incentives for the sale of their policies. This can influence some agents and/or brokers to recommend those products over cheaper ones. Plus, agents and brokers may also charge an additional fee to homeowners for their services.
Navigate this obstacle by looking for reviews and asking agents about their compensation policies. You can also use a tool like Insurify to see real rates for yourself.
10. The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies, According to Reddit Users
The best home insurance company is going to depend on the user, i.e., you. Every homeowner has their own unique set of needs and preferences, and this prevents companies from being one-size-fits-all. For most homeowners, the right company offers a comparatively low rate with acceptable customer service. The company must also be in great financial standing.
With that being said, Reddit users time and again recommend their favorite insurers to new homeowners looking for a lead. The most-mentioned companies we found include:
In addition to these well-reviewed tips, we’d like to add some cost-saving advice:
When your credit score goes up, compare your home insurance rates. Why? Because in most states your credit score can affect your rate.
Hire an independent insurance adjuster if you feel low-balled by the adjuster assigned to your claim.
Compare quotes from insurers at least every six months to ensure you’re always getting the best deal.
Don’t forget that you can search, compare, and buy home insurance with the Insurify comparison tool. One free and confidential form lets you see what the professionals see, and it only takes a few minutes. Try it now!