Home Insurance Tips

What to Look for In a Home Owners Insurance Policy – Understanding Home Owners Policy

When shopping for insurance, it is important to understand what you are getting when you purchase a home owner insurance policy. Some people decide to buy insurance online by using popular online insurance quote websites and some stay with a local agent. Whatever choice you make, knowing and understanding your home insurance policy coverages is important.

A Home Owners Insurance Policy is designed to protect home owners against certain perils. There is usually a deductible when filing a home insurance claim unless noted. Individual home insurance policies are determined by named perils and exclusions in a policy. Consult your agent or insurance company regarding any exceptions that may apply.

Whether you buy your home owners insurance policy online or with a local agent, the typical home owners insurance policy is divided into 2 parts:

  1. Part I: Home Insurance Property Protection
  2. Part II: Home Insurance Liability Protection

If one was to look at a home insurance declarations page, which is usually the first page in a home owners insurance policy, they would see Part I: Property Protection. This protection is usually broken down into four additional sections:

  1. Dwelling
  2. Other Structures
  3. Personal Property
  4. Loss of Use

Coverage A. Dwelling typically covers your house, attached structures, fixtures in the house such as built-in appliances, plumbing, heating, permanently installed air conditioning systems, and electrical wiring.

Coverage B. Other Structures typically covers detached structures such as garages, storage sheds, and fixtures attached to the land including fences, driveways, sidewalks, patios, and retaining walls. Detached structures used for business purposes are not covered under a personal home owners insurance policy.

Coverage C. Personal Property typically covers personal property including the contents of your home and other personal items owned by you or family members who live with you. This protection can be based on actual cash value or replacement cost. Home insurance policies may provide limited coverage for small boats, however, most home insurance policies do not cover motorized vehicles unless they are unlicensed and used only at your home. Some items may have coverage limits such as firearms, artwork, business property, electronic data, jewelry, and money. Extra coverage is usually available by adding endorsements to your policy.

Coverage D. Loss of Use typically covers living expenses over and above your normal living expenses if you cannot live in your home while repairs are being made or if you are denied access by government order.

There are also Additional Property Coverages home owners insurance polices may provide such as the removal of debris along with damaged trees and shrubs, fire-department service charges, property removal, theft or illegal use of credit or transfer cards, collapse of buildings, and glass breakage if caused by a covered perils.

Endorsements can also be added to your home owner insurance policy at an additional cost to provide extra protection. Examples of endorsements include:

  1. Guaranteed replacement cost coverage will pay the cost to rebuild your home as long as you have met the requirements of your home insurance policy.
  2. Extended replacement cost coverage insures your home for a specific value and usually adds a 20-25% extended limit if reconstruction costs run over.
  3. Inflation Guard increases the amount of your home owner insurance to keep up with inflation so that you can maintain adequate coverage to replace your home in the event of a loss.
  4. Scheduled personal property protects articles such as jewelry, furs, stamps, coins, guns, computers, antiques, and other items that often exceed normal policy limits in your regular home owners insurance policy. It often provides coverage that is broader than the coverage in the home insurance policy. There normally is not a deductible for this coverage. Increased limits on money and securities provide additional coverage for money, bank notes, securities, and deeds.
  5. Secondary residence provides protection for a second home such as a summer residence.
  6. Theft coverage protection broadens the theft coverage to include personal contents in your motor vehicle, trailer or watercraft to be covered without proof of forcible entry.
  7. Credit card forgery and depositor’s forgery coverage provides protection against loss, theft or unauthorized use of credit cards. It also covers forgery of any check, draft, or promissory note. No deductible applies to this endorsement.Also called “riders,” endorsements are additional (sometimes optional) enhancements that allow you to customize your car insurance policy by increasing or even reducing the amount of insurance coverage you would receive in special situations.

One example of an endorsement is the popular Family Protection endorsement, which provides significant financial protection—up to the limits of your liability coverage—if you or your eligible family members are injured or killed in an accident caused by an uninsured, under insured or unidentified (e.g. hit and run) at-fault motorist.

Home-based business owners

Home-based business owners need to pay attention to liability limits in order to protect their personal and business assets as well. That’s why your liability limits and deductibles are major factors in how much you’re going to pay for auto insurance. The higher your car insurance limits and the lower your deductible, the higher your car insurance premium rates will be. When determining your car insurance premium, auto insurance companies typically look at the number of miles you drive, who drives your vehicle, your driving record and your claims history.

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Did you know that “bundling” insurance can save you much more and provide better claims coverage?

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