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Home Insurance

What to look for on a homeowner's insurance policy?

Many homeowner's don't know what protection they have until it is time to make a claim. It is a good idea to understand the basics of a home insurance policy so you aren't caught knee high in water with no coverage. Here is a few things to keep in mind when comparing quotes from different companies:

Coverage Options include:

Dwelling Coverage - This amount can be different from company to company because they may use different rating systems to achieve the replacement cost of the building. Ask the agent why they choose the number they did.

Personal Property - Items include jewelry, clothing, furniture and electronics. Be sure to include special items like engagement rings or fine art. In most cases an engagement ring valued over $2000 is not covered automatically on a home insurance policy.

Roof replacement cost or depreciated value - Depending on the insurance company the roof may only be covered for a depreciated value instead of replacement cost. This means that a 20 year old roof will be replaced at a lower value than one with replacement cost.

Water backup coverage - If your sewer system backs up from outside the house the resulting damage is normally NOT covered by a standard homeowners policy. Be sure to include at least $5,000 in sewer backup or water backup coverage.

Why do my home insurance rates increase each year?

From year to year each insurance company will adjust their rates depending on a number of factors including dollar amount of losses, cost of building materials, cost of labor and investment return. Why does this impact you as the homeowner you might ask? Let's take for example a city which had a rough year of weather that included a tornado and a massive hail storm. Depending on how many claims an insurance company experienced in those areas and how much money was paid out can affect you as the policy holder.

Most likely that insurance company who had customers in the tornado or hail storm path will increase rates from 5 to 35 percent. You may not have made a claim but your rates will be impacted due to the overall loss the company experienced. It may not sound fair but insurance provides protection for your home at a relatively low price by spreading the risk across many homeowners. If you were one of the homeowners hit by the tornado you would be thankful to have insurance to replace your home for only a small deductible.

How can I lower my house insurance premium?

Owning a home is a great investment and sense of accomplishment but it comes with additional financial burdens. Homeowner's insurance is a must if you have a mortgage on the property so minimizing the cost is important. Here are some ways to reduce the cost of home insurance while still providing adequate protection:

  1. Increase deductibles - By increasing your wind/hail deductible from $500 to $1000 can reduce your annual premium by 5-15% depending on the company.
  2. Confirm all discounts are applied - You may be entitled to certain discounts that are not automatically added on the policy such as central alarm or occupational group discounts.
  3. Confirm discounts have not fallen off - some insurance companies systems will either accidently remove a discount or it will fall off if validation is not received. This is particularly the case with alarm system discounts since the company asks for proof of alarm monitoring each year.
  4. Make sure you are not overinsured - It may sound crazy but some people have too much home insurance. If you live in an area where land values are high but the actual cost to rebuild the home is relatively low you may have too much dwelling coverage.


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