Buying Coverage That Fits Your Needs

Last updated: March 29, 2016

Basic Considerations When Looking for Homeowners Insurance

To avoid a major financial loss if your home is badly damaged or destroyed, make sure you buy enough coverage.

  • Having the correct amount of coverage on a structure means the cost to rebuild the dwelling with materials of like kind and quality will be covered at current reconstruction prices.

  • You don’t want to apply for more coverage than you need, but you don’t want to be under-insured either.

Here are the basic things you need to consider when looking for homeowner’s insurance:

Property Protection 

The better your coverage, the less you will have to pay out of your own pocket if disaster strikes.

  • Your contents limit is commonly calculated as a percentage of your dwelling coverage limit.

    • Generally, it will be 50% of the amount of insurance on your house, unless you buy extra coverage.

    • In other words, if your home is insured for $100,000, your contents limit would be $50,000.

Personal Liability Protection 

You need enough personal liability coverage to protect yourself from lawsuits resulting from your negligence.

  • Higher limits are available for an additional premium.

Lender Requirements 

Usually, your lender will make you name the lending institution as a "loss payee". This protects the lending institution in case of loss.

  • You are not required to purchase insurance from the insurer recommended by your lender.

  • If you fail to keep insurance coverage in force, the lending institution will buy coverage that protects its financial interest and you may have to pay for this coverage.

    • This type of coverage is more expensive than an insurance policy you would buy.

Deductible Requirements 

Homeowners policies make you specify a deductible. A deductible is the amount of money you pay before the insurance company begins paying on a loss.

  • Your insurance company may have a separate, higher deductible for the perils of wind and hail.

  • A higher deductible will usually reduce the premium price of your homeowners insurance.

Policy Coverages 

Your home and belongings are insured against the perils specified in your policy. The specific policy you buy will depend on your unique needs. The more perils insured against, the more you will pay for the insurance policy.

  • Basic form insures your property with limited coverage against the following basic perils:

    • Fire or lightning
    • Smoke damage
    • Windstorm or hail
    • Explosion
    • Riot or civil commotion
    • Aircraft
    • Vehicles
    • Theft
    • Vandalism and malicious mischief
    • Glass breakage
    • Loss of property removed from premises endangered by fire or other perils

  • Broad form covers more perils and provides a broader protection base:

    • Falling objects
    • Weight of ice, snow, and sleet
    • Collapse of building(s) or any part thereof
    • Sudden accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a steam or hot water heating system
    • Accidental discharge, leakage, or overflow of water or steam
    • Freezing of plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning systems
    • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated currents to electrical appliances and devices
  • Special form is the most common of all homeowners forms.

    • It usually offers all-peril coverage on the structure and named peril coverages on your contents.

Insurance companies will provide coverage on either a replacement cost or an actual cash value basis. Insurers will impose some coverage requirements for replacement cost protection.

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