The Homeowners Insurance Guide: An Overview for Beginners
Homeowners insurance, also known as home insurance, is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. It protects your house and possessions from theft or damage. Nearly all mortgage companies require that borrowers have insurance coverage to cover the fair or full value of the property (usually the purchase price). Without proof, they won’t lend or finance residential real estate transactions.
Insurance doesn’t have to be required for your home. Many landlords require tenants to have renter’s coverage. It doesn’t matter if it’s mandatory or not, having this type of protection is smart. We will walk you through the basics and benefits of homeowners insurance.
What a Homeowners Policy Offers
While they can be customized in many ways, homeowners insurance policies have certain elements that indicate what costs the insurer will pay.
Interior and Exterior Damage to Your House
Your insurer will pay you for damage to your home from fire, lightning, storms, vandalism, or other covered disasters. You may need separate riders to protect against damage or destruction caused by floods, earthquakes, poor maintenance, or other covered disasters. You may need separate coverage for freestanding garages, sheds, or other structures located on your property.
If your home is damaged by an insured disaster, you can get coverage for clothing, furniture, appliances and almost all other items in your home. Even “off-premises” coverage is available. This means that you can file a claim for jewelry lost no matter where it was lost. However, your insurer may limit the amount you can get reimbursed. The Insurance Information Institute states that most insurance companies will cover 50% to 70% of the insurance you have for your home’s structure.
If your house is insured at $200,000, you would get coverage up to $140,000 for your possessions.
You might consider buying a separate policy if you have a lot of expensive possessions (fine art, antiques, jewelry, designer clothes).
Personal Liability for Injuries or Damage
You are protected from lawsuits brought by others through liability coverage. This coverage even covers your pets! Your insurer will cover Doris’ medical costs if her dog bites her neighbor Doris. You can also file a claim for reimbursement if your child breaks the Ming vase. You’ll also be covered if Doris falls on broken vase pieces, and you successfully sue for pain and suffering and lost wages.
Although policies may offer coverage as low as $100,000, experts recommend that you have at least $300,000. According to the Insurance Information Institute. An umbrella policy, which costs $1 million more than a standard policy, can provide additional protection for as little as $100.
You can rent a hotel or a house while your home is being rebuilt or repaired
Although it is unlikely, you will find yourself having to leave your home temporarily. Additional living expenses is a part of your insurance policy that would pay for rent, hotel rooms, meals at restaurants, and any other costs while you wait for your home to be habitable again. Be aware that there are strict daily and total limits to your Ritz-Carlton suite and room service caviar. You can increase your coverage if you are willing to pay more.
Different types of homeowner’s coverage
Insurance is not all created equal. You will get the most coverage for your money if you have the lowest cost homeowners insurance.
There are many types of homeowners insurance in the United States. They are referred to as HO-1 through 8 and offer different levels of protection, depending on what type of home is being insured.
There are basically three levels of coverage.
Actual cash value
The actual cash value is the difference between the price of the house and the value of your possessions after depreciation. This means that the item’s current value is greater than the amount you paid for it.
Cost of replacement
You can repair or rebuild your home by purchasing replacement value policies that cover the cash value of your property and possessions, without deducting any depreciation.
Replacement cost/value guaranteed (or extended)
This policy, which is the most comprehensive, covers all costs associated with repairing or rebuilding your home. It also covers any excess that exceeds your policy limit. Some insurers offer extended replacement. This means that it provides more coverage than you bought, but it has a limit. Typically, the ceiling is between 20% and 25% higher than your policy limit.
Advisors believe that homeowners should purchase guaranteed replacement value policies. This is because you don’t need enough insurance just to protect your home’s value. You need enough insurance to rebuild your house, preferably at current market prices, which will likely have increased since your home was built. Adam Johnson, a QuoteWizard.com home insurance product manager, says that many homeowners make the mistake of only insuring their home enough to pay the mortgage. However, this usually amounts to about 90% of the home’s actual value. It’s a good idea, due to the fluctuating market to have coverage that covers more than what your home is worth. Homeowners can get guaranteed replacement value insurance to absorb rising replacement costs and provide a cushion in the event of an increase in construction prices.