What is Homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard policy insures the home itself and the things you keep in it.
Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. This includes damage caused by household pets.
Damage caused by most disasters is covered but there are exceptions. The most significant are damage caused by floods, earthquakes and poor maintenance. You must buy two separate policies for flood and earthquake coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners’ responsibility.
Why do you need homeowners 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.
- 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 homeowners 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.)
With renters insurance, you will be able to replace what is damaged or stolen.
Renters insurance covers your possessions against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, and water damage from plumbing.
However, renters insurance does not cover floods, earthquakes or routine wear and tear. You can, however, buy separate policies for flood and earthquake damage.
If you are forced out of your home because of a disaster your additional living expenses will be covered.
Renters insurance pays the reasonable additional costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can’t live in it due to a fire, severe storm or other insured disaster. It covers hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt. Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company.
Renters insurance also covers your responsibility to other people injured at your home or elsewhere by you, a family member or your pet and pays legal defense costs if you are taken to court.
Decide How Much Insurance You Need.
Add up the cost of everything you would want to replace if it were damaged or stolen. This could also serve as the basis for an inventory that will make filing a claim easier. For an inventory, also record model numbers, dates and places of purchase. Take photographs or make a video of these items and place a copy of the inventory in safe place away form your home.
If you rent an apartment or house you need insurance to protect your belongings. While your landlord might have insurance, it only protects the building. Your belongings are not covered under those policies.