What Homeowners Need to KnowAccording to a 2013 study by Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, a whopping 60% of homes are underinsured, leaving homeowners at a high risk for high payouts. And with so many insurance companies competing for your business and making self-promotional claims, it’s hard to feel confident with any one provider.
That’s why the team at Reviews.com sifted through 99 home insurance providers to determine which ones will keep you, and your home, protected.
What Home Insurance CoversOne of the biggest misconceptions about homeowners insurance is that it only covers your physical home. In fact, a standard policy should cover all six of the following:
● Dwelling Coverage — in the event of a loss, this portion of the policy can help repair or rebuild essential systems in your home
● Other Structures — covers the cost of repairing portions of your property that are not attached to your home, such as a garage or shed
● Personal Property Coverage — protects items like your clothing or furniture if it is damaged or destroyed by a covered loss. Keep an eye out for companies that have useful tools to help keep track of your possessions to make the process less of a headache!
● Loss of use — if you’re unable to live in your damaged home after a loss, this portion of your policy will help you pay for housing and living expenses
● Liability Insurance — if you or anyone in your family is sued for damages or injuries to someone else, this covers your legal financial costs
● Medical Expenses — should any minor injury occur on your property, this portion of your policy can help offset that cost
What Home Insurance Doesn’t CoverTo avoid disappointment and confusion after a loss, be aware of what your provider won’t cover and opt for the necessary additional riders if you are concerned that you may be at a high risk for the following:
● Flooding — Insurance for flooding that happens as a result of a storm and not from a pipe bursting or sewage backup isn’t covered. Instead, it’s available in a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk flood zone, it’s a good idea to consider flood insurance, as it’s the most common and costly natural disaster in the US
● Earthquakes, Landslides, and Sinkholes — most states offer special endorsements for earthquakes, landslides, and sinkholes for an extra fee
● Wind Damage — hurricane-prone areas do not offer coverage from damage caused by strong winds in their basic policies, but you can opt for a rider to fill the gap in coverage
● Maintenance Neglect, including:
○ Burst pipes
○ Sewer backups
● Some Dog Breeds — having a dog that is considered aggressive can drive your rates up and even prevent you from obtaining coverage so check with your provider to make sure your dog is approved under your policy
Did You Know?● When shopping for homeowners insurance, you should always opt for coverage that will cover the full cost of a rebuild of your home, not how much you paid for it.
● Certain valuables, such as heirlooms or expensive jewelry, may need their own separate endorsements. If this applies to you, make sure you end up going with a company that has these protections built into their endorsements.
● Homeowners insurance is not a home warranty. Damage caused by mechanical failure in a major home system is covered by a home warranty, not home insurance.
● You may be eligible for more discounts than you think. Bundling policies, going claim-free for a certain period of time, installing protective devices, and even being married can shave dollars off your premium rate.
● The most important thing to consider when shopping for a homeowners insurance provider? Quality claims services. Select a provider that has:
-High scores for a reputable ranking agency like Consumer Reports or A.M. Best
-Multiple ways to file a claim, as well as 24-hour support available
-An accessible and easy to use website or app
Shopping around and getting quotes from a variety of companies is the best way to ensure that you not only pay a reasonable premium, but are covered in the event of a loss.
For more information regarding their top choices, along with additional coverage options, and rates by state, check out the full review: http://www.reviews.com/homeowners-insurance/