18 Jun What to Check for in Your Home Insurance Policy
Searching for an insurance policy can be stressful and confusing if you are not sure what to look for in a policy, and homeowners insurance is no different from the rest. Finding the right insurance policy is a process that requires thorough research and attention to detail. With homeowners insurance, there are many options to consider depending on your individual case. Insuring your home is essential to protect against financial loss in the case of property damage, to cover liability cases or to ensure your mortgage loan. Let us help break down the process of searching and selecting insurance for your home.
What Type of Homeowners Insurance Am I Shopping For?
Homeowners insurance is an umbrella term for a variety of insurance types you can purchase for a home, whether you plan to live in the home yourself or be a landlord. Every homeowner has different needs and priorities, and there are thankfully many insurance plans available. The first step in selecting the right home insurance policy is knowing which type of insurance you need in the first place. The most common types of homeowners insurance policies include:
- Basic Homeowners — As the name implies, this policy is the most common and simple, protecting against common causes of damage such as fire, smoke, lightning, explosions, aircraft damage or even volcanic eruptions.
- Broad Form — Similar to a basic policy, a broad form policy covers the common causes of home damage, as well as others such as damage caused by electricity or accidents. In addition, your personal items, personal liability and the structure of your home are included in the coverage.
- Special Form — A special form policy builds on broad from insurance to also cover if you are the one to cause damage to another person’s property or cause personal injury.
- Comprehensive Form — Another step above a special form insurance policy is comprehensive form. This type of insurance covers even more causes of damage compared to all other policies
Homeowners Insurance Options
Homeowners insurance can save you from stress and financial loss if you choose the right one. Condominium owners are able to purchase insurance both for themselves and the occupants of their units. This type of insurance covers a unit’s floors, walls and ceiling, as well as damage to any alterations or additions put in by the owner. Personal items are also covered. However, this coverage is generally up to a certain limit.
- Tenant’s Form — Also known as renters insurance, tenant’s form is only for home renters and covers personal items and liability.
- Older Home Form — While an older home form insurance policy covers the same categories of damage as a basic policy, this type is specifically for old homes whose cost to rebuild in the event of damage exceeds the current market value.
- Mobile Home Form — Mobile homes are covered differently than general homeowners insurance and require a separate policy, which is similar to special form insurance.
- Dwelling Fire Form — Common for vacation homeowners, this type of insurance will cover only your dwelling and a small specified number of damage causes. Dwelling fire form insurance does not cover damage to personal items, liability, or medical costs. Additionally, if you are a homeowner and do not renew your homeowners policy, this is the type of policy a mortgage lender will select for you.
How to Know What’s Covered
While every insurance policy is different, there are a number of commonly covered causes of damage that are included in most insurance policies. The coverage your insurance provides will not be activated unless your home experiences damage covered by your specific policy.
The most common covered damaging events include:
- Environmental damage from fire, smoke, lightning, explosions, wind or hail
- Treefall and other large fallen objects
- Water damage from a broken pipe
- Damage from heavy snow, ice, or sleet
- Vandalism and theft
- Damage caused by a vehicle, such as a car or aircraft
Depending on the location of your home, some events (even if they are commonly occurring) may not be covered by a basic homeowners insurance policy. If these causes are not covered in your policy, you will need to obtain extra coverage. This is why it’s extremely important to carefully review your insurance policy in detail to be aware of what is covered and not covered.
Damaging events often not covered include:
- Average wear-down of the home over time
- Flooding or sewer damage
- Land-based damage, such as landslides, earthquakes or mudflows
- Damage caused by pollution
- Pets, other animals and insects damage
- Intentional damage to the structure
Selecting a Policy
An insurance policy on your home is what you will immediately rely on in the unfortunate circumstance of damage to your home. Homeowners insurance can save you from stress and financial loss if you choose the right one, but it can also be the source of much stress and financial trouble if you chose one that doesn’t meet your needs. It’s important to take your time and thoroughly examine all of your homeowners insurance options.
Let’s walk through some of the most important steps to purchasing home insurance:
- Evaluate the amount of coverage your home needs. More coverage means less financial strain when disaster inevitably comes your way in the future. Your mortgage lender is also likely to decide the minimum amount of coverage your home will need, generally enough to cover the home’s mortgage.
- Compare the deductibles of different insurance plans. The deductible is how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket for each claim, similar to a medical deductible. The lower the deductible, the higher your insurance payment will be. Consider how much you will be willing to pay out-of-pocket in the event your home faces damage compared to how much you are willing to pay on a regular basis for your home insurance.
- Choose between replacement cost (RCV) or actual cash (ACV) values for your policy. Replacement cost value refers to how much it would cost to fully replace your home and personal items, priced at the current market value without depreciation. Actual cash value refers to the cost to replace your home and belongings after depreciation. While ACV premiums tend to cost less, RCV premiums are more likely to provide more reimbursement coverage.
- Do your research, and ask your agent for advice and potential discounts. There’s no rush when selecting a home insurance policy. Take your time to find reliable sources online that help you compare your options, especially in your local area. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth from friends and family, either. Your insurance agent is also likely to be able to offer discounts if you purchase multiple types of insurance policies with them.
- Read every detail, and annually review your insurance plan. A homeowners insurance policy is a contract filled with as many details about coverage and responsibilities as possible. Be fully informed when you sign it, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Always secure your policy somewhere safe yet easily accessible. Review your home insurance annually to make sure your needs are being met or if there are changes to be made.
Florida Insurance Experts
Purchasing homeowners insurance doesn’t have to be a stressful or financially straining process. Strassman Insurance Group’s expert insurance agents can help you get the best homeowners insurance in Florida that both meets your needs and your budget. Whether you are searching for homeowners insurance, landlord insurance, life insurance, or more, contact us to secure and insure the most important things in your life.