What is Homeowner’s insurance?
Homeowner’s insurance is a package policy. It covers both damage to your home and its contents and your liability for any injuries or property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. Liability coverage also covers damage caused by household pets.
Property damage caused by most disasters is covered, but there are exceptions. The most significant exceptions are damage caused by floods, earthquakes, and poor maintenance. Flood and earthquake coverage are available b a separate policy or by endorsement.
Why do you need homeowner’s insurance?
It is really all about protecting yourself financially if something unexpected happens to your home or possessions. That’s important because chances are your home is likely one of your largest investments.
- If your home was destroyed by fire or damaged by a natural disaster, you’d need money to repair or replace it.
- If a guest in your home is injured, liability protection and medical coverage help pay expenses and protect you from legal claims against you.
- If you are a victim of theft and vandalism, it can reimburse you for your loss or pay for repairs.
- If you are still paying for your home, your lender will require insurance.
It is important to know that homeowner’s insurance is meant to cover unexpected damage, not routine maintenance. Ask your agent to talk about what is covered and be sure to read your policy so you know exactly what’s included and what is not.
Things to consider and questions to ask your agent:
Here are few things to discuss with your agent that will influence your decisions.
- How much will it cost to rebuild my house and replace my belongings if they are damaged or destroyed? (Ask your agent to talk you through your home’s features and the things you own so you can make an informed decision about coverage.)
- Does the insurance company have a good reputation for customer service? Is it known for paying claims fairly and promptly?
- What discounts are available? (Ask about multiple policy, security system and fire resistance discounts.)
- What’s the process for filing and settling a claim? (Ask who to call and what happens after you file a claim.)
Because everyone’s needs are not the same, it is best to consult your agent to help assess your needs and find the insurance policy that is right for you.
Your homeowner’s policy does not cover damage from floods or earthquakes. You can purchase coverage for both of these perils upon your request.
- Every homeowner should have “sewer and sump pump back-up” coverage. Adding $5,000 of coverage costs only $35 to $50 extra per year. Higher limits may be available. Contact us if this optional coverage is desired.
- Many people have opted to install metal roofs instead of conventional asphalt shingles. Please note that most insurance companies do not provide coverage for cosmetic damage to metal roofs. For example, if hail dents your metal roof, but the metal is not broken or does not leak water, your insurance company will not pay you for the cosmetic damage to your roof. There is no buy-back provision for this exclusion at this time.
- If you build a garage, shed or any other structure anywhere on your premises, call us to verify and activate coverage.
- If you leave your home, cottage or cabin for an extended period of time, please shut off your main water supply or the breaker for the well pump. Water pipes easily freeze and break if your heat supply is cut off and can do significant damage while you are gone.
- Insist that both your home and its contents have replacement cost coverage. Call us if you have any doubt about whether your policy provides these coverages.
- Homeowner’s policies provide personal liability coverage, which covers you and your family members from claims for bodily injury and property damage, including but not limited to, slip and falls, dog and other animal bites, hunting accidents, food poisonings and injuries caused by family members involved in recreational activities. It is inexpensive to raise the limit of coverage on your policy. Call our office to increase your limit.
- Recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles, boats, ATV’s and UTV’s are not considered “contents” or “personal property”, and are not automatically covered by your policy, even when stored in a building. You must call your agent to activate both property and liability coverage for recreational vehicles.
- If you have a business on your premises, you need to call us. Homeowner’s policies do not automatically cover business exposures from either a property or liability perspective. If you raise animals, grow crops, store a business vehicle on your premises or operate any other business on the premises, you need to call us to activate liability coverages and property coverage for the buildings and contents affected.
- All homeowner’s policies have limitations for theft of guns, jewelry, furs and fine arts. Please call us to discuss your exposure.
- Jewelry that is misplaced or that loses a stone is not covered unless you called us prior to the loss and schedule the item to your policy.
- Your policy provides virtually no coverage for coins, money, gold, silver, or other precious metals. We encourage you to rent a safety deposit box or buy a fireproof safe to help protect these items.
- Keep your building roofs free from snow and ice in winter. Roof collapses and ice dams can cause considerable damage to your home, garage and contents. Ice dams are an indication of poor insulation and heat loss. Invest in good insulation, adequate heat, soffits and a snow rake.
- If you wish to burn wood, please do it properly. Have a professional contractor install a UL-approved wood burning unit. Be sure to have a state of art chimney. Do not vent any other heating devices to the same chimney. Install a clay tile liner in all masonry chimneys. Burn only well-seasoned (dried for at least two years) hardwood. Store ashes in a metal container with a metal lid. Do not install wood burners in attached garages. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended clearance distances from walls and other combustibles. Clean your chimney regularly.
- Call our office when you have questions or concerns. Call us when you buy recreational vehicles. Call us before you install a wood burning appliance. Call us when you finish off your basement or add an addition to your house or garage. Call us whenever you update your electrical system or you reroof your house – discounts may be available for doing so.