What You Need to Know About Homeowners Insurance

    Insurance is just one of those responsible things that none of us like to spend money on but all of us need. In fact, you usually don’t realize how much you need it until you’re dealing with an actual crisis. Not to sound pessimistic but chances are at one point in your life you will deal with some sort of homeowner disaster, so let’s just all be prepared, okay?

    Part of being prepared is ensuring that your insurance will pay off. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are 5 things you need to know about homeowners insurance.

    Know What it Covers
    Typically, your homeowners policy will pay for any damage that happens to your property and your possessions in the event of an occurrence such as a fire, storm, theft or vandalism. You also get what’s called liability coverage, which means if someone gets hurt while on your property and wants to sue you, they can cover you. Other things it can cover includes:

    – Items stolen from your car
    – Items lost by an airline
    – Hotel bills you may incur while you’re displaced from your home

    Remember, while home insurance is fairly standard, there are some states or insurers that can offer different policies. So always check with what your company offers.

    Know What it DOESN’T Cover
    Possibly more important than knowing what homeowners insurance covers is what it does NOT cover. It’s best to know this ahead of time so you can both financially and mentally prepare. Standard policies have an assortment of exclusions including:

    – Earth movement (landslides, earthquakes, sinkholes)
    – Power failure
    – War
    – Nuclear hazard
    – Government action
    – Faulty zoning
    – Bad repair or workmanship
    – Defective maintenance and flooding

    Typically, windstorms like tornadoes are covered, however if you are in a high-risk area for tornadoes and hurricanes, some insurance companies may exclude it or require you to add on additional policies. The same thing goes for water damage. If your region is prone to floods, you should consider supplemental coverage.

    One more thing to keep in mind is that some items come with coverage limits or caps. For instance, your fine jewelry, watches, furs, silverware, electronics, and firearms are typically limited to maybe $2,000 of coverage. That means if you have an engagement ring worth more than that, you will need to have it appraised and consider a supplemental policy for that as well.

    Know How to Shop Around
    Insurance is never cheap. That’s why it’s really important to do a little shopping before you commit to a company or a policy. We are lucky to live in the age of the internet where you can find a plethora of reviews at the click of a mouse. It’s also a good idea to use the good old fashion online review – word of mouth! Ask around your neighborhood and see if anyone is particularly thrilled with the company they’ve chosen. It’s not only important to have a good price and policy, it’s also important to have good customer service. Don’t forget you will be contacting these people while in crisis. You do not want to struggle to receive your benefits after suffering a house fire. You want someone who is courteous, accommodating, and punctual. The response rate of a company is huge for homeowners insurance.

    Know How to Save Money
    Once you find a good company, take the time to research how you can avoid paying high premiums. For instance, having a home full of working smoke detectors can help you lower your insurance quote. Other premium-reducing actions include:

    – Having a burglar alarm system
    – Installing a fence around your pool and having a pool cover
    – Deadbolts

    Insurance companies also like other means of early detection and prevention. For instance, if you live in an area that has the air conditioner pumping for most of the year, you may want to consider having regular checkups on the systems. Your insurance policy can actually pay for a new air conditioning unit for you if your checkup finds your unit is on it’s last leg. This can also be the case with something like your water systems. If you find a leak that could save your insurance company from a bigger headache, they’ll likely reward you.

    Know How to File a Claim
    Understanding how and when to file a claim is essential to optimizing your homeowners insurance experience. When you sign up for your policy, ask the representative what their time limits are to report a claim. If you wait too long, you may lose your eligibility. Even if you aren’t sure the policy will cover it, make the call as soon as you can just in case.

    You should also ask what kind of information they recommend having on hand for filing a claim. Keeping a good record is one of they key factors to getting your benefits. Documenting everything that occurs during a loss can really come in handy for insurance. This includes:

    – Saving receipts
    – Saving contracts and appraisals
    – Documenting phone calls by jotting down whom you spoke to and when

    Of course, you can document all you want but if you don’t save these items in a safe spot, you’re back to square one. So make sure to keep a special folder system for your homeowners information. Being that you’ll need these items likely in the event of some sort of disaster, a sturdy safe might be the best place to do that, or consider keeping digital copies online.

    The bottom line is, as a homeowner, you’ll need to purchase home insurance to protect your home and personal property. We all need protection against liability for accidents. The key is to become a knowledgeable consumer so that in the case that you need your insurance, you’re confident in your coverage.

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