Protect Your Assets with Homeowners Insurance
Crime, accidents, and severe weather are part of life, and every home experiences loss or damage of some kind, at some point. You cant predict when you will experience a loss, but you can protect yourself financially. Where do you begin, and how can you compare homeowners insurance quotes when it seems every company offers something different?
Start by getting a free home insurance quote from Willis & Moore, Inc., an independent insurance agent in the Trusted Choice® network. Willis & Moore can compare rates for you so you can get on with enjoying your home and family. We can also answer any questions you may have about how to get the right homeowners insurance for your needs, including personal property coverage, liability and more.
Home and Property Damage Facts
In an average year, 374,000 residences catch fire, resulting in $7.32 billion in loss
In 2010, 2,158,878 houses were burglarized, resulting in an estimated $4.6 billion loss
1,691 tornadoes occurred in the U.S. in 2011, at a cost of $28 billion
Getting coverage for the risks of owning a home is simply a wise investment. Be sure to talk with a qualified agent who understands your geographic area and can help you make sense of the many options available to you.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Broadly speaking, insurance covers you for potential loss resulting from risks such as burglary or theft, severe storms, fire and also your personal liability. The specific risks you may face as a homeowner could include floods and earthquakes, which you must cover with separate policies, as these disasters are not included in home insurance.
Your home liability coverage protects you if someone is injured on your premises, or you are responsible for damage to someone else's property. You homeowners insurance can even protect you against injury you cause to another person off-premises under certain circumstances. Note that liability insurance will not cover acts of violence or intentional damage.
Your liability insurance would also typically provide coverage if:
· Your child throws a baseball through the neighbor's window
· Your dog bites a visitor to your home
· A visitor is injured on your backyard swing set or trampoline, or by falling on your icy sidewalk
· A dinner guest gets food poisoning and is hospitalized
If someone files a liability claim against you, your insurance can pay for property repairs, medical or funeral costs or even a lawsuit if the injured party chooses to launch a legal process.
When evaluating the amount of liability coverage that makes the most sense for you, be sure to fully discuss your limits and deductibles with your agent. Take time to understand your risks and determine whether you will be well covered in various circumstances. In the event of a disaster, the costs of recovering can devastate household finances. Quality home insurance can make a difficult situation bearable and help you get your life back on track.
Is Homeowners Insurance Mandatory?
Homeowners coverage is not required by law. However, if you borrow money to buy a home, your lender will likely require you to buy a homeowners insurance policy for you to qualify for a home loan. In this case, your home is collateral, and the lender wants the collateral maintained. The lender requires insurance so you can afford repairs if the home suffers an insurable loss.
At a minimum, your lender will want your policy to cover or exceed the amount you owe on the loan. Most homeowners, however, want enough coverage to repair or replace the home. As Trusted Choice member agent, Willis & Moore can help you decide how much insurance is right for you.
Be Sure Your Home Insurance Provides Adequate Coverage
A recent study concluded that 69 percent of homeowners are under-insured. Unfortunately,
many homeowners think they are fully protected and are stunned to find out at the time of loss that their coverage is inadequate.
Getting the right homeowners insurance coverage for your home and belongings depends on many things, from crime rates, tornado risk and wildfire hazards in your area to the specific personal property coverage and deductibles that make the most sense for your household.
Here are a few key strategies you may want to consider to make sure you have adequate home insurance:
· Increase your liability insurance with an umbrella liability policy, which will provide liability coverage up to $1 million or more.
· Get replacement cost home insurance to cover what it would cost to replace your home and personal property, instead of actual cash value coverage, which will only cover the current depreciated value.
· Be sure to read over the policy's exclusions carefully and ask your agent if any of these items are a risk, and if you can purchase additional insurance to cover them.
· Add coverage for specific items of value, such as jewelry, art and collectibles, through endorsements or riders on the policy.
While you may be able to buy online homeowners insurance, consider working directly through an agent who can provide in-depth explanations of each aspect of your policy. When you buy home insurance, you are protecting your financial future. Take time to seek good advice from a knowledgeable independent agent.
Making Sure Your Personal Belongings Are Covered
When choosing the amount of personal property coverage you want for your belongings, consider what it would cost to replace all your personal items after a total loss from a fire. Many homeowners assume that all of their belongings are fully covered until they experience a loss. Depending upon the type and amount of coverage in the policy, personal items may not be covered, or may only be covered up to a depreciated value. In most cases, this amount is far less than what it would cost to replace them.
The following steps can help you determine the value of your items and be prepared if you need to file a claim:
· Compile an inventory of what you own, room by room.
· Take pictures of your belongings, particularly anything of high value.
· Keep receipts for all valuable items you purchase, including appliances.
· Record a replacement value for each item on your inventory.
· Go over this list with your insurance agent and determine whether you need to purchase additional coverage to be protected in the event of a loss.
· Place your inventory list, images and receipts in a secure place such as a fire safe.
These records will help you to complete the claims process more efficiently and accurately if you suffer a loss.
Why Work with an Independent Agent?
Now that you know the many ins and outs of homeowners insurance, you can see why it is so important to work with an insurance agent who can answer all of your questions. A local independent agent in the Trusted Choice network can compare policies and options for you from multiple insurance companies and provide all of the information you need to make an informed decision.
Additionally, your local agent can look for all available discounts that can help to lower your home insurance costs. When it comes time to file a claim after a loss, your agent will assist you with the claims process so you can recover as quickly as possible. Willis & Moore, Inc., as a Trusted Choice network member can help you get started today finding the right homeowners insurance for your needs. Simply tap here to email us or call us direct at 515-244-0156.
Homeowners Insurance FAQs
Q. What Is Homeowners Insurance?
Q. What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Q. How Does Home Insurance Work?
Q. Is Homeowners Insurance Required?
Q. Why Is Homeowners Insurance Important?
Q. When Should I Get Homeowners Insurance?
Q. How Much Does Homeowners Insurance Cost?
Q. Is Homeowners Insurance Tax Deductible?
Q. Is Homeowners Insurance Included in the Mortgage Payment?
Q. Can Your Homeowners Insurance Be Canceled?
Q. How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?
Q. How Is Homeowners Insurance Paid?
Q. Where Can I Get Homeowners Insurance?
What Is Homeowners Insurance?
Homeowners insurance, also referred to as home insurance or property insurance, provides coverage for your private home and compensates you in the event of a loss. If your home is burglarized or is partially or totally destroyed by a cause that is covered by your policy, homeowners insurance will help you replace your belongings, repair your home, or even rebuild.
Homeowners insurance also provides liability coverage which protects you, the homeowner, if someone is injured on your property, or you are deemed responsible for personal injury or property damage through negligence.
The amount of compensation you receive in a claim, or that the claimant receives from your insurance company when filing a liability claim against you, depends on the limits set for your policy. An independent agent in the Trusted Choice® network can help you to determine the amount of coverage that makes the most sense for your home and your risk tolerance.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Homeowners insurance provides coverage for a range of risks that you may face as a homeowner that otherwise can be financially challenging to cover out of pocket. These include:
Property damage: This includes damage and destruction to your residence and/or detached structures. You will receive compensation, up to the limits of your policy, if your house or storage shed is damaged due to a covered hazard. Standard covered circumstances include things like hurricanes and vandalism, but other hazards such as earthquakes and floods are excluded. Be sure to check your homeowners policy for exclusions.
Personal property loss: Includes damage or theft of personal property, up to your set policy limits for covered circumstances, which typically excludes flooding, earthquakes, and personal negligence. If your personal property is very valuable (such as collectibles or antiques) you'll likely need additional riders or special endorsements on your policy. Be sure to talk with a knowledgeable agent about your personal belongings and valuables, as standard limits may not be adequate to cover a major loss.
Personal liability: If you, your family member, or even your pet causes an accident, injury or property damage, your homeowners insurance can protect you. Whether the issue requires medical care or repair of property, you will typically have coverage up to your liability limits. There are exclusions, such as aggressive acts against a neighbor, so it is important to fully understand your liability coverage. Be sure to talk with an agent about how to choose adequate policy limits that protect your finances in the event of a lawsuit.
Added living costs: If your house is uninhabitable, your homeowners insurance can pay for alternative living arrangements while your home is repaired or rebuilt. Depending upon your homeowners insurance company and the specifics of your policy, this may be included or may be an optional coverage. You will typically have daily and total overall limits for this coverage.
How Does Home Insurance Work?
When you buy home insurance, you're buying a safety net for your home. If your home is damaged or destroyed, it can cost thousands of dollars $ even hundreds of thousands of dollars $ to repair or rebuild.
Without home insurance, that money must come out of your pocket. But if you're insured, you can file a claim to pay for the damage and help rebuild your dreams. Your homeowners insurance will also cover theft of your personal belongings, including when you take them with you in your car or while you travel.
In the event you suffer a loss, whether from burglary, fire, or a severe storm, call your insurance agent or insurance company to begin the claims process. An adjuster will work with you to assess the damage and determine your compensation.
The benefits you receive will depend upon several factors, including:
· The limits set on your policy, both for your structural property and your belongings.
· The deductible amount you pay before your coverage kicks in.
· Whether you have chosen coverage for the actual cash value (depreciated) or the replacement value of your home and belongings.
Is Homeowners Insurance Required?
Your state may or may not require homeowners insurance, but your mortgage lender typically will require coverage to provide a home loan. Even if you own your home outright and you are not required to buy homeowners insurance, its still a good idea to protect your investment with an insurance policy. That way you can get the financial compensation you need to repair or rebuild after a loss. Not only that, but your home coverage can help to protect you financially in the event of a liability claim that leads to a lawsuit.
Why Is Homeowners Insurance Important?
Homeowners insurance is important for a variety of reasons:
If you're insured, any significant repairs or rebuilding after a disaster can potentially be covered by your insurance policy, up to your set limits.
If you owe money on your mortgage and your home is completely destroyed, you will still be required to pay your home loan, unless you have adequate homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance can help pay for the rebuilding cost. If you insure your house at full replacement cost value, you will have the means to fully rebuild, if needed.
Liability coverage is arguably the most important aspect of homeowners insurance. If something happens to a visitor on your property, your liability coverage can cover that person's medical costs, well as your legal fees if you are sued. Lawsuits are expensive and hiring a lawyer can cost thousands of dollars. If you're found responsible, you could be ordered to pay large sums of money in a personal injury suit, a cost that can be offset by your liability coverage.
When Should I Get Homeowners Insurance?
You should purchase homeowners insurance before you contact a mortgage company for a loan. Most mortgage companies will require you to have homeowners insurance in place prior to giving you a home loan; but don't wait until the last minute to start thinking about insurance.
It's important to shop around for the right policy for your needs. There are many factors that determine the right insurance coverage. A Trusted Choice member agent in your area can help you compare policies and quotes to find the best coverage for your needs.
How Much Does Homeowners Insurance Cost?
The value of your home and the amount of coverage you buy will largely dictate the amount you will pay for your premiums. But there are other factors that can affect your premium as well, including things like the crime rate in your area, and how many claims you have filed in the past. Another important factor is the state you live in, as average costs can vary significantly from state to state.
Because there are so many factors that affect the cost of homeowners insurance, a typical annual premium can range anywhere from $400 to $1500, or more for a high value home. If you choose additional coverage, you may pay a higher premium, but you will also have better protection.
Its always important to comparison shop for the best homeowners insurance rates and the best value. An independent agent in the Trusted Choice network can compare prices from several different insurance companies to find the right policy for you at the right price.
Is Homeowners Insurance Tax Deductible?
Your insurance premiums are not tax deductible except under special circumstances. You do receive other tax benefits as a homeowner, but they are not related to homeowners insurance.
If youre a landlord or a homeowner who uses part of your home for business purposes, you may be able to deduct a portion of your homeowners insurance. A tax advisor is your best resource in determining what you can and cannot deduct on your taxes.
Is Homeowners Insurance Included in the Mortgage Payment?
Homeowners insurance is not included in your mortgage payment unless it is escrowed. Today, creating an escrow account that covers your mortgage payments, your home insurance and even your property taxes is common practice.
Additionally, your mortgage insurance is typically included in your mortgage payment. This is paid if your loan exceeds 80 percent of your home's value. Mortgage insurance does not insure your home. It insures the bank if you default on your loan.
Can Your Homeowners Insurance Be Canceled?
Homeowners often ask, "Can my homeowners insurance drop me?" Yes, your insurance company can drop you, but it's important to know that being dropped (considered a non-renewal) is different from being canceled.
When you are dropped by your insurance provider, your insurance policy is not renewed at its expiration date, and you must pursue another provider. You will be informed if your policy is going to be dropped so you have adequate time to shop for new coverage.
Your homeowners insurance can be canceled at any time as long as you are notified that it will be occurring. During the first 60 days, the insurance company can cancel for a variety of reasons. After 60 days, the reason for cancellation must be due to a specific circumstance such as non-payment, misrepresentation or increase in risk. You'll typically receive a cancellation notice 10 to 30 days in advance of cancellation, depending on the reason your insurer cites.
How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?
Make sure your homeowners insurance covers the following areas:
Structure of home: Insure your home for its replacement value. This is how much it would currently cost to build your home from scratch. (Be sure you have an accurate estimate of your home's value.) The amount it would cost to sell your house is not a good indicator of the replacement value.
Personal belongings: Most policies cover your personal belongings at 50 to 70 percent of your home's value. This may not be enough coverage if you have many valuable items. Conduct an inventory of your personal belongings to find out how much coverage you need and insure them at replacement cost. For antiques or high value items, you may need to purchase a personal articles policy or additional rider that can provide more complete coverage.
Liability: A basic policy might include $100,000 to $300,000 of liability coverage. Considering the cost of personal injury lawsuits, you may want to purchase liability insurance with higher $300,000 to $500,000 limits.
For additional protection and peace of mind, consider buying an umbrella liability policy, which can add another $1 million or more in liability coverage. An umbrella policy is an excellent way for anyone to increase liability protection, but it's an especially good idea for anyone with more valuable than average assets to protect, or particular liability concerns.
How Is Homeowners Insurance Paid?
You can always pay the insurance company directly for your homeowners policy, but you have other options. You can ask your mortgage company about escrow, which allows you to pay your homeowners insurance payment along with your mortgage payment. The insurance payment is placed into an escrow account where it is held by the mortgage company until the annual premium is met. At that point, the mortgage company pays the homeowners insurance annual premium to the insurance company.
This allows you to break your insurance premiums into smaller payments and you only work with one company. Escrow may not be available for everyone, though, so check with your lender.
Where Can I Get Homeowners Insurance?
When you start your search for homeowners insurance, it's important to assess your needs to determine the right amount of coverage. It can be tempting to choose a policy based on price alone, but you probably won't get the right amount of protection using that method. Protecting your investment doesn't mean breaking the bank. You can get a range of quotes and options from an independent Trusted Choice member agent.
When you work with an independent agent, you'll never have to wonder if you should have looked at more policies from different companies. You will have the opportunity to compare several options from top companies and find the best policy and value for your needs, all while letting your agent do the legwork.
Contact Willis & Moore, Inc. for personalized homeowners insurance quotes. Simply tap here to email us or call us direct at 515-244-0156.