Why do you need homeowners insurance?
Homeowners Insurance is an important purchase for two major reasons:
- To Protect your Assets – Homeowners insurance covers both your property and your personal legal liability for injuries to others or their property while they’re on your property.
- To Satisfy Your Mortgage Lender – Most mortgage companies require you to have Insurance as long as you have a mortgage and to list them as the mortgagee on the policy. If you let your insurance lapse, your mortgage company will likely “force place” your homeowners coverage which will cover the dwelling only for the amount of your outstanding loan and the premium will be much higher. Your mortgage company will require you to pay this higher premium until you purchase your own policy again.
What does the policy cover?
A homeowners policy usually covers:
- Your house and other structures on your property including fences, detached garages, detached pools, etc.
- Your personal property in your home or on your property
- Your personal liability
- Medical payments for others accidentally hurt on your property
- Additional living expenses if you must rent a place to live while your home is being repaired.
- If your home is insured on a replacement cost basis, then claims are paid based on the cost to replace your loss not the Actual Cash Value which includes depreciation. If your policy is based on replacement cost, you must replace your property to be reimbursed.
What the policy doesn’t cover:
A homeowners policy usually
- Earthquake, landslide or mudslide
- Sewer Backup
- Identity Theft
Your homeowners policy may not cover claims related to:
- Dog bites
- Swimming pools or trampolines
- Operating a business from your home
Be sure to ask us what your policy doesn’t cover(the exclusions). You may be able to add an endorsement to your policy to cover some of the items listed above. A separate policy can be purchased to cover Flood or Earthquake.
A homeowners policy usually limits coverage for these items:
- Jewelry, guns, electronics, collectibles and antiques
- The additional cost to meet updated electrical, fire, plumbing and hurricane building codes.
These items can be scheduled on your current policy for replacement cost or additional
policies can be purchased to cover these important items. Please ask us the best way to get this accomplished.
A list of questions you should ask your agent:
- Is my homeowners insurance company admitted or non-admitted?
- Are my agent and the insurance company licensed by the Dept. Of Financial Services?
- How can I find out the claims history of the home before I buy it?
- If I submit a claim, how will it affect my premium when I renew the policy?
- What discounts are available?
- What does the policy cover? What doesn’t it cover? What are the limits to the coverages?
- How much coverage do I need for my personal property?
- Should I buy Flood insurance or earthquake coverage?
- How will my credit history affect my premium?
- Do you offer homeowners insurance in Bradenton?
- What is the rating of the insurance company?
How is my premium determined?
Many factors determine the premium you will pay. Different insurance companies charge different premiums for similar coverage. All companies have their rates files with the Dept. Of Financial Services. Dealing with an independent agency is key so that your agent is able to look at many different companies for you and offer choices and options.
In order for us to do the best job possible, please be prepared to give us the following information:
- Is your home concrete block or wood frame construction?
- Confirm your living area square footage
- What is the age of your home?
- Has your home been updated – new roof, plumbing, electrical or heating/A/C
- Social security numbers and occupations
- Do you currently have homeowners insurance?
- Have you had any previous homeowners claims the past 5 years?
- Do you have jewelry, collectibles, fine arts that need to be scheduled and insured separately?
- Is this your primary home? Seasonal? How many months is your home occupied?
- Do you have a monitored burglar or fire alarm system?
- Do you own any dog? If so, please provide breed type and bite history
- Do you operate a business form your home?
- Is your home located in a gated, guarded community?
- Do you own a swimming pool? Is it fenced or protected by a screened enclosure?
Action items for homeowners
- Pay the premium on time. Most insurance companies don’t offer a grace period for paying the premium – the due date is the due date.
- Make an inventory of your contents. This can be done by videotaping each room and making an inventory all contents. There are companies that specialize in this type of service that are very reasonable. Ask us for a reference. Maintain your home. A homeowners policy is not a maintenance contract. It insures against things like fire, wind and hail. It doesn’t pay to repair items that simply wear out like rotted porch railings or roofs that are old and need to be replaced.
Making a claim
- Notify your agent promptly
- Call the insurance company and report your claim. Give as much detailed information as possible.
- Take photos and don’t start making repairs without authorization form your adjuster. If your loss happens at night or over the weekend, do what is necessary to prevent further loss and keep damaged property at your home or garage for viewing by the adjuster.
- You are required to protect your home from further damage. For example, you may need to board up your home or use tarps if there was damage to the building or clean up water from a broken pipe or backed-up drain.
- Don’t feel rushed or pushed to agree with something you aren’t comfortable with. It might help to have your contractor meet with you and the insurance adjuster.
- You must document your loss. Receipts and photos will help.
- If you and the adjuster disagree about the value of the claim, check your policy for an appraisal clause.