Thursday, 11 March 2010

Homeowners insurance facts

For most of us purchasing a home is the biggest investment to mike during the whole lifetime. And it's reasonable that such an important investment needs reasonable coverage. That's why you need homeowners insurance.

What's included in homeowners insurance?
In case you finance your house purchase through a mortgage, your lender is most likely to require you buying basic homeowners insurance. The basic homeowners insurance includes coverage against the following risks:
  • Theft
  • Fire and lightning
  • Smoke
  • Frozen pipes
  • Ice and snow
Basic insurance policies also include liability coverage for cases when someone is injured in your house. In case there are legal actions taken against you it will also pay for court fees. Basic insurance will also cover your costs in case it's impossible to live in the house due to fire or any other damage.

What's left out of coverage?
To learn what is not included into the coverage you should read through your policy, especially the Exclusions part. Things not covered by standard policies vary from one company to another, but most likely they will include damage due to earthquake, flood, nuclear accident, war, act of terrorism and similar. Still, you can purchase additional coverage for such events to be included into your home insurance policy. Wear and tear damage is never included into the policy because it's considered to be maintenance, which is the owner's sole responsibility.

How much coverage do I need?
When buying a house through mortgage loan your lender will require you to purchase minimum home insurance coverage (which is usually the purchase value of your home). However, it's usually not the amount of coverage to meet your insurance needs. Instead, try calculating how much money it would require to rebuild your house entirely and use this amount as the base for getting the right coverage amount. Speak to your agent when completing the insurance policy to calculate the exact amount, or even run a full inspection for qualified appraisal.

Typically, liability limits are around $100,000, however it's too little to protect your assets in case of legal action. You may opt to raise your limits up to $500,000 for an additional price. Sometimes it may be useful to get umbrella coverage, which pushes your limits beyond $1 million, however such coverage is typically offered only when you have both your auto and home insurance from the same carrier.

Money saving tips
Of course homeowners insurance can be quite costly sometimes. Especially when you have many items under additional coverage. In order to keep the coverage you need while still having reasonable rates you might want to consider raising your deductibles first. Deductibles are the amount of money you will have to pay out of your own pocket for the damage before the insurance policy kicks in. and the higher is that amount the lower will be your premium. The usual deductible within standard policies is $250. Try raising it to $500 or even $1000, and your rates will go down by up to 15%.
Another good way to make your home insurance cheaper is installing security features such as alarm or video, special locks and so on. This way you protect your assets and the insurance company is likely to give you a good discount for that.


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