Home Insurance Questions Answered
October 18, 2019
We Write Personal Lines Insurance Through Our Partnership With Metro West.
Your home will be one of the most significant investments you will ever make, both economically and emotionally. Your family will spend countless hours there, among some of your most prized possessions. In the event of any misfortune, let us give you the peace of mind knowing that you are well protected
You need enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs. Don’t include the cost of the land. And don’t base your rebuilding costs on the price you paid for your home. The cost of rebuilding could be more or less than the price you paid or could sell it for today.
Some banks require you to buy homeowners insurance to cover the amount of your mortgage. If the limit of your insurance policy is based on your mortgage, make sure it’s enough to cover the cost of rebuilding. (If your mortgage is paid off, don’t cancel your homeowners policy. Homeowners insurance protects your investment in your home.)
Factors that will determine the cost of rebuilding your home:
§ Local construction costs
§ The square footage of the structure
§ The type of exterior wall construction–frame, masonry (brick or stone) or veneer
§ The style of the house (ranch, colonial)
§ The number of bathrooms and other rooms
§ The type of roof and materials used
§ Other structures on the premises such as garages, sheds
§ Fireplaces, exterior trim and other special features like arched windows
§ Whether the house, or parts of it like the kitchen, was custom built
§ Improvement to your home–adding a second bathroom, enlarging the kitchen or other additions that have added value to your home
Your Personal Possessions
Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for your personal possessions for approximately 50 percent to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure or “dwelling” of your home. The limits of the policy typically appear on the Declarations Page under Section I, Coverages, A. Dwelling.
To determine if this is enough coverage, you need to conduct a home inventory. This is a detailed list of everything you own and information related to the cost to replace these items if they were stolen or destroyed by a disaster such as a fire (for more information see How do I take a home inventory and why. If you think you need more coverage, contact your agent or insurance company representative and ask for higher limits for your personal possessions.
Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value
You can either insure your belongings for their actual cash value, which pays to replace your home or possessions minus a deduction for depreciation up to the limit of your policy. Or you can opt for replacement cost, which pays the actual cost of replacing your home or possessions (no deduction for depreciation) up to the limit of your policy.
Suppose, for example, a fire destroys a 10-year-old TV set in your living room. If you have a replacement cost policy for the contents of your home, the insurance company will pay to replace the TV set with a new one. If you have an actual cash value policy, it will pay only a percentage of the cost of a new TV set because the TV has been used for 10 years and is worth a lot less than its original cost. Some replacement cost policies also replace the item and deliver it to you.
Insuring expensive items with floaters/endorsements
There may be limits on how much coverage you get for expensive items such as jewelry, silverware and furs. Generally, there is a limit on jewelry for $1,000 to $2,000. You should ask your agent or look it up in your policy. This information is in Section I, Personal Property, Special Limits of Liability. Insurance companies may also place a limit on what they will pay for computers.
If the limits are too low, consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement. These allow you to insure these items individually or as a collection. With floaters and endorsements, there is no deductible. You are charged a premium based on what the item (or collection) is, its dollar value and where you live.
You can determine the value by providing your agent with a recent receipt or getting the item or collection appraised.
Additional Living Expenses
This is a very important feature of a standard homeowners insurance policy. This pays the additional costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can’t live in it due to a fire, severe storm or other insured disaster. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.
Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage for about 20% of the insurance on your house. Some companies will even sell you a policy that provides you with an unlimited amount of loss of use coverage, for a limited amount of time.
Liability is part of your policy covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. It also pays for bodily injury and property damage to others caused by pets. It pays for both the cost of defending you in court and for any damages a court rules you must pay.
Generally, most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available. Increasingly, it is recommended that homeowners consider purchasing at least $300,000 to $500,000 worth of coverage of liability protection.