Home insurance is a must, but there are a lot of options to choose from, just like in auto insurance. There are four main categories in home insurance: Structure of the house, personal assets, liability, and off-premises living expenses.
House Structure Coverage
Coverage for the structure of your home should anything happen is a must, but it is up to you how well covered you want to be. There is an option called extended-replacement value coverage which will replace your actual house 100% as opposed to a much lower percentage. Plus, an additional percentage is added for the event that the house would have to be re-built to help defray the costs of the current housing market prices. If you decide not to get the extended-replacement option, it is especially important that you take into account inflation in the housing market each time you renew your coverage amount, and any remodeling improvements you make to the house should be taken into account also when renewing coverage amounts.
Personal Assets Coverage
There is also an extended-replacement value coverage option for your assets as well. Basically, your assets can be defined as anything in the house that is non structural. Many people grossly underestimate what everything in their house would cost if it all had to be replaced. Therefore, it is suggested as good advice to literally take an inventory of everything in your house to get at least a rough estimate of what the cost would be to replace it all. If you had to replace it all, keep in mind however, that it would all be replaced with the new versions of what you currently own. Therefore, the cost to replace everything would be (most likely) much greater than their present worth. Also, be sure to know the time-frame for replacing your items, if any. And, when they would actually help pay, before or after the fact? Many insurance companies prefer to reimburse receipts as opposed to giving the money upfront. Would that work for you in a worst case scenario? Something to make note of when choosing insurance companies.
Floaters (also known as endorsements)
Floaters can be thought of as a way of floating more coverage over to your more valuable items. Coverage amounts are meant for insuring basic household items and so therefore, will be insufficient as a means for extravagant coverage on a particular item(s). That is when floaters come into play. You can purchase floater insurance for those items that are extremely valuable in price for sufficient coverage if anything should happen to them, even if they are lost.
Obviously, the more coverage you have for liability, the better. Liability costs has the potential to be more than anyone’s wildest imagination, and therefore, the better protected you are, the better off you will be should a worst case scenario occur. Liability coverage will cover you for damage done to others and their property, which can get very expensive, especially if they take you to court. It will also, therefore, pay the court fees and whatever the judge makes you dish out at the end of the day for damage costs. If you have pets that like to get out and cause damage, beware! You may want to up your liability coverage even more!
Coverage For Off-Premises Living
If a natural disaster causes your home to be unlivable for a while, you would have to live and eat elsewhere for who knows how long. Coverage for off-premises living would cover basic living costs during the time that you are unable to live in your own home. This is especially important to have if you live in a high risk area for natural disasters to occur. Make sure you know which natural disasters your insurance covers you for! Don’t assume it will be for all and any that occur. For example, most insurance companies do not cover for floods and earthquakes by default. You must pay extra coverage for them specifically if you want coverage for it.
Know What Your Coverages Contain
Coverages for each insurance company will be similar but the details will be different. For example, if you lose your purse at the store (that contained a lot of money) and you were unable to retrieve it, would your insurance cover it under your personal assets? A lot of homeowners insurance companies would because they cover all your assets, whether you keep them hidden or take them out with you, they are usually covered just the same. Many people horribly underestimate what their homeowners insurance company can and will do for them. So, it is good to know the details of the coverages as well as what they cover. What is the list of natural disasters? If a tree fell through your roof would you have coverage for that? Also, what is defined as “your house-structure”? If your unattached garage burned down to a stubble would you have coverage for that? The more you know about your coverages the better.
How Can I Save On My Homeowners Insurance?
Just like with auto insurance, the higher your deductible is (the amount you must pay before your insurance will help out), the lower your premiums will be (your monthly payment), which can save you a bundle of money. So, the highest amount you are willing to pay out of pocket for if anything happens should be your deductible. And, if you use a homeowners insurance company that also covers your auto insurance as well, chances are you will get the bulk, discounted rate.
Meeting Safety Standards
Fixing up the house to meet insurance standards will also decrease your monthly payments with most insurers. It is a good idea to have their check-off list, such as the certain kinds of alarms and locks needed. Sometimes even a housekeeper living with you can decrease your rates since that can be looked upon as a very good alarm system also!
Anything that poses as a hazard in the home will increase your rates, so to get rid of the hazardous stuff will really help with lowering rates. For example, smoking is a fire hazard (over 23,000 reported house fires a year come from smoking), the fenceless pool is a liability hazard, and the pet that scares the inspectors of your home will surely be the cause of higher rates as well.
Unless you are worried that the very land your house sits on will be pulled out from under you like a big rug, leaving you with nothing but a hole in space, you probably don’t need to insure it. However, insurance companies usually add your land into the value of your home by default. If you subtract the value of your land from the value of your house and just cover for that, then your rates will be less because there will be less expense to cover.
How Can I Make Sure An Insurance Company Is Good?
Believe it or not, there were homeowner insurances that tried to refuse payment to those insured when Katrina hit. Knowing the history of handled claims is a good indicator of how good a company is. Ratings online can be checked, which indicates how well they pay their claims. You can compare quotes online at http://www.foxquotes.com