Your home is one of your most valuable assets. Homeowner’s insurance helps protect your investment in your home, as well as you and your family. Selecting a homeowner’s insurance policy can be a daunting task. It is not only important to purchase quality insurance, but to also know exactly what your insurance covers should your home be impacted by a natural disaster.
What do you need to look for in a homeowner’s insurance policy? Read on as we provide you with a few helpful tips and insight from All State Insurance and Consumer Reports Homeowner’s Insurance buying guide to help you better understand what you need to look for when purchasing homeowner’s insurance.
- Understand your homeowner’s insurance policy coverage Homeowner’s insurance protects more than the house itself. Your insurance policy should extend beyond the physical structure of your home and protect what is inside of it. Make sure that your personal belongings and detached structures outside your home such as an outdoor shed are covered under your homeowner’s policy should you require disaster restoration services following a natural disaster.
The term “peril,” as referred to in an insurance policy is a cause of loss, such as fire or theft. Coverage can be provided on an “all perils” basis, or a “named perils” basis. Named Perils policies list exactly what is covered by the policy, while Open Perils (or All Perils) policies will list what is excluded from coverage. For example:
- Dwelling Coverage
Should your home and attached structures such as a garage or deck become damaged by a peril, dwelling coverage helps cover the cost of repairs.
- Other structures
“Other structures” coverage in your policy may help pay for repairs or replacement for detached structures on your property such as a shed or fence if they are damaged or destroyed by a covered peril.
- Personal property
Personal property coverage may help cover the cost to replace certain belongings, including furniture and electronics that may become damaged by a covered loss such as a fire.
- You and your family
If you or a family member are found legally responsible for accidentally damaging someone else’s property or injuring someone, liability coverage may help pay for related repair costs, legal fees and medical bills.
If a visitor is accidentally injured at your home, your policy’s guest medical protection may help pay for their medical bills.
- Additional living expenses
If you are unable to stay in your home following a fire or while mold remediation services are being conducted, your homeowner’s insurance coverage may help pay for temporary increased living costs such as a hotel.
- Get the Right Coverage
The best test of an insurance company is how well it handles claims. Some major insurers provided significantly better satisfaction when it comes to handling claims than others. Review the following resource for homeowner’s insurance ratings to locate top-rated homeowner’s insurance companies. Homeowners Insurance Ratings
- Fight for Your Claim
It can pay to negotiate with your homeowner’s insurance company. If the adjuster says your policy doesn’t cover certain damage, ask to see the specific contract language. If the dispute is over the damage amount, request a sit-down with the contractor and adjuster to go over the estimate line by line.
- Look for a Better Deal
You can save hundreds to more than $1,000 each year on home insurance premiums just by shopping around. Consider bundling your homeowners and auto insurance coverage which could result in up to a 30 percent savings.
- Don’t Underinsure
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your coverage limits will automatically adjust to your home’s rising or falling market price. Replacement value, or the cost of labor and materials required to rebuild, is what you need to consider. Ask your insurer for a customized estimate of your home’s replacement cost which should take into account its unique features, construction details, age, and any costs of meeting new local building-code requirements. You should review your coverage needs every few years.
Coverage for a sewer backup is also not included in a standard policy, but you can pay extra for it. To avoid paying out of pocket for damage, you may require additional policies for flooding and earthquakes, which aren’t covered by a traditional homeowner’s insurance policy. Additionally, you may need to consider a separate policy for wind and hail damage.
Coverage for your furniture, electronics, clothing, and other belongings is standard, but if you have expensive furs, jewelry, silverware, or artwork, they’re subject to coverage limits. You’ll need to purchase a special endorsement or floater to cover their full value.
- Reduce Your Risks
You can help lower your homeowner’s insurance premiums by taking a few steps to reduce your risks:
- Smoke detectors, burglar alarms, and deadbolt locks can be worth a 5 percent premium discount. A sophisticated sprinkler system with alarms that alert first responders could result in 15 to 20 percent off your insurance premium.
- Impact- and fire-resistant roofing materials made of asphalt, rubber, cement, and metal can get you further discounts because they stand up better against hail, debris, and embers—the primary cause of damage from wildfires. Noncombustible siding provides increased protection.
- Fire, lightning, and debris removal lead to the highest claims of all insured perils. Cooking equipment is a leading cause of home fires, so never leave a stove unattended, and keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Insurers recommend a simple fix to help prevent a minor disaster that can cause thousands of dollars in water damage: Replace the standard rubber hoses that come with your washing machine with steel-braided reinforced hoses. The cost is only about $20 total.
If your home has been damaged by a disaster such as a fire, flood or mold, contact ServiceMaster Professional Services for disaster restoration services. SVMPS has more than 40 years of experience in disaster restoration services and we will also work with your insurance provider to help deal with your claim. Contact us online or call us at (800) 245-4622 for more information.