Frequently Asked Questions:
The number one issue with preparing for disasters is documentation.
We help policyholders determine if you are properly insured, and we assist by helping you put together a professional inventory list of all your personal and business personal property.
We also assist policyholders with qualifying competent general contractors, who you choose to repair your property, who should also be able to write a full estimate of your damages and negotiate with your insurance adjuster for a fair settlement.
Homeowners insurance is an insurance policy that protects you financially in the event that your home and property is damaged in a covered peril, or in the event of a covered lawsuit.
Perils that are typically covered by a standard home insurance policy include fire, wind, lightning, hail and theft. While no one plans on losing their home or possessions to any of these perils, it unfortunately happens every day. Ask yourself this: If your home was ever destroyed in a fire, for example, how would you pay to rebuild your home? That’s where your homeowners insurance comes in.
Homeowners insurance protects the investment you have made in your home by providing you with coverage for specific hazards.
But your home insurance doesn’t stop there. In the event that someone was filing a lawsuit against you for accidental damage you caused to their property, how would you pay for the costly legal fees? Standard homeowners insurance also contains liability coverage that protects you and your family against lawsuits where another party finds you liable for damage to their property or person.
What does a standard home insurance policy cover? When shopping for home insurance, you should know about the six types of home insurance coverage offered in standard policy:
- Coverage A- Dwelling
- Coverage B- Other Structures on Your Property
- Coverage C- Personal Property/Contents
- Coverage D- Loss of Use
- Coverage E- personal Liability Protection
- Coverage F- Medical payments
Dwelling coverage protects against the damage and possible loss of your home’s structure in the event of a covered claim such as a hurricane, hail, lightening or fire. (Separate policies are needed for flood and earthquake insurance.) This portion of your policy pays to replace the structural components of your home.
Other Structures that are protected by a standard home insurance policy are detached garages and other detached buildings on your property. The typical coverage for other structures is 10% of your dwelling coverage-although higher amounts may be purchased if necessary.
Personal Property coverage is included in a standard home insurance policy and protects your personal items and household contents in the event they are stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or other peril covered in your policy. These items may include, but are not limited to, furniture, clothing, and sports equipment.
Loss of Use coverage provides for your living expenses in the event that you cannot live in your home due to a covered claim. This type of coverage typically covers hotel and restaurant bills and other living expenses you may incur while your home is being repaired.
Personal Liability covers you in the event that a lawsuit is presented against you or covered family members for bodily injury or property damage. Your pets are also included in this portion of your policy protecting you against bodily harm or property damage that they may cause to others.
Medical Payments coverage (often referred to as MedPay) helps cover medical expenses that you might be held responsible for due to an injury sustained on your property when there is no lawsuit.
Can I own a home without homeowners insurance?Home insurance is never required by law, however, the financial institution that holds your mortgage will most likely require your home to be insured for at least the amount of your loan. Lenders require home insurance to protect their investment in case of a disaster that destroys or damages your home. While home insurance may not be required by a lender, it is recommended that every home owner insure their home and belongings to protect against a loss.
The same holds true for flood and earthquake insurance. If you live in a flood zone or an area that is subject to a high number of earthquakes, your lender may require you to carry either an earthquake or flood policy on the property.
If you own a condo, apartment or town home, the homeowners’ board may require you to purchase a special policy to cover the common areas of the building. Besides what is required, it is always a good idea to maintain adequate home insurance coverage in order to protect your own investment in your home. Even if you own your home and do not have a mortgage, your home is still susceptible to common perils. Having comprehensive home insurance coverage ensures that you will never have to worry about losing your investment if a covered disaster were to strike in your area.
How do I take a home inventory?
A home inventory may not seem like a high priority on your list of things to keep up with as a homeowner.
However, in the event that your home was destroyed in a fire or other peril, this list will be one of your greatest assets. A home inventory is a detailed list of all of your home contents. In the event that disaster strikes your home, this list will help you remember all of your personal belongings so that you can report your entire loss to your insurance company. Content coverage (or coverage C) is the portion of a homeowners insurance policy that provides coverage for the items inside of your home.
In the event of a disaster striking your home the loss can be overwhelming and many homeowners can’t remember everything that they had in their home before the loss. A home inventory will keep you from forgetting important items and help speed up the claims process.
Also, when taking a home inventory take note of any particularly high-value items such as pieces of jewelry, furs or collectible items. Some of these items have coverage limits associated with them which may leave some of your possessions under insured. Ask your insurance agent if you need an endorsement, or rider, on your policy in order to adequately cover these items.
When taking an inventory of your home, be sure to include everything you own except vehicles, animals and items that are insured under other policies. It is important to keep this document in a safe place outside of your home- such as in a safe deposit box or at a relative’s house.
A few helpful reminders for creating your home inventory:
- List every item of value in your home
- Include serial numbers of items anywhere you can
- Continuously update your home inventory as you acquire new items
- If you have the receipt- include it!
- Take Photos- take close-up and wide-angle shots, use a color camera or video camera if possible and have a family member in all pictures to help prove ownership.
What information do I need to provide to my insurance agent?
When asking for a home insurance quote, be prepared to answer some questions about your home and claims history. Having all of this information available beforehand can help you get a quote faster.
Here is some of the information you may need to get a home insurance quote:
- Home Details such as square footage, construction type, roof age, etc.
- The amount of liability coverage you need
- If your home is your primary or secondary residence
- What type of pets you own (if any)
- Details about any home insurance claims you have filed in the past 5 years
- The age of your home and when your electrical, plumbing and heating were last updated
Having this information handy can help speed along the quote process. Plus, the more accurate the information you provide, the more accurate your quote.
When should I review my home insurance policy?
The Insurance Information Institute recommends reviewing your home insurance policy twice a year. However, you should also review your policy whenever one of the following situations occurs:
1. When the homeowners policy comes up for renewal. While it is tempting to pay the renewal bill immediately, this is a perfect time to review your homeowner’s policy and contact your insurance agent with any questions about your coverage or premium. Some examples may include:
- Am I receiving any and all discounts available to me?
- Should I begin to comparison shop with other providers?
- Has my home insurance provider made any changes to my coverage?
- Does my homeowners policy include separate deductibles for certain risks?
- Can I raise my deductible to save money?
- Have I adequately insured all of my personal possessions?
- Do I need to increase coverage for liability or structural reasons?
2. When you make major purchases or alterations to the home. Building that new deck? Just purchased a big screen TV? Next step is to call your agent. Making new purchases or adding improvements to your house is usually a great time to look at your home insurance policy. A perfect example of a major improvement includes adding or expanding a room, such as a kitchen or bathroom.
Additionally, if you or a member of your family has received an expensive gift, such as artwork, a computer or even an engagement ring, talk to your agent about either increasing the amount of insurance you have for your personal possessions or purchasing a floater/endorsement for these items.
3. When you’ve made your house safer. Installed a fire or burglary system in your home? Call your agent immediately, as you may qualify for a new discount. Other examples include upgrading your heating, plumbing or electrical systems.
What type of home insurance coverage do I need for my condo?Condo insurance is specifically designed to provide coverage for condominium owners.
Unlike the owner of a single-family home, a single-unit condominium owner does not need coverage for the entire building, instead, just their unit. (Typically, condo owners are also required to pay into a Master Policy (HOA) as well that covers common areas of the building- but more on this below.)
Condo insurance typically includes the following protection in the event of a covered claim:
- Dwelling Coverage
- Contents/Personal Property Coverage
- Loss of Use Coverage
- Personal Liability Coverage
- Medical Payments
Dwelling Coverage for a condo owner covers structural improvements to the inside of the unit (typically from the studs of the walls, in) in the event of a covered claim. This is unlike the dwelling, coverage in a standard homeowner’s policy which provides coverage for the entire home (interior and exterior). The amount of dwelling coverage needed varies for condos and is based on the construction type of the condo. For example, a condo with standard, building grade materials might need $30,000 worth of coverage while a unit with upgraded appliances, wood floors and granite counter tops might need $100,000 worth of coverage. A home insurance agent can best help you determine your coverage.
Contents Coverage or Personal Property Coverage for a condo policy covers your personal belongings inside the unit including (but not limited to) furniture, clothing, electronics, etc.
However, there are typically limits for each item and you can schedule an endorsement on your policy if you have any one item that exceeds those limits and needs extended coverage. For example, a standard condo policy typically has a maximum payout of $1500 for jewelry. If the value of your jewelry exceeds that limit you can schedule an endorsement (or rider) to protect specific valuable pieces.
Loss of Use Coverage protects a condo owner in the event that their condo is damaged in a covered claim and they must seek shelter elsewhere while it is being repaired. Loss of use coverage helps pay for room and board, dining, dry cleaning, etc. while you are unable to reside in your condo.
Personal Liability Coverage protects a condo owner in the event they are involved in a lawsuit where they, or an immediate family member who also lives in the condo, are being sued for bodily harm or property damage they have caused. Most policies typically carry a minimum of $100,000 in personal liability coverage, however, those limits can be increased.
Medical Payments Coverage, also known as MedPay, is a coverage that protects a condo owner in the event someone is injured in their condo and the condo owner wants to pay the medical bills. For example, if a friends slips in your kitchen and requires medical attention, your MedPay would pay for the medical bills up to the limits in your policy.
Medical payments coverage is only for a situation where a lawsuit is not involved and carries limits like all other coverage options. Most condo policies have medical payments coverage of up to $2,000 per incident but that can be increased.
Condo owners also typically are required to pay into a Master Policy which covers the shared areas of the condominium building. The master policy covers areas of the building such as hallways, the roof, the laundry room, basement, entry ways and stairwells.