Home insurance is an important part of homeownership. And yet many people—especially first-time buyers—forget about obtaining a policy. It is easy to get caught up in the intensity of the homebuying process. Searching for a home, arranging the move, packing your current home—there is so much to do. But, don’t forget home insurance helps safeguard financial security in case of loss or damage to your new home. However, not all policies are the same. The goal is to have the best protection possible for your property. It is, therefore, crucial to have a good understanding of all aspects of home insurance.
What Home Insurance Covers
Basic home insurance policies typically include six types of coverage:
- Dwelling coverage: Pays for any physical damage to your house’s structure due to a covered cause.
- Other Structures coverage: Covers damages to other structures on your property detached from the main house, such as sheds, fencing, and detached garages.
- Personal Property coverage: Pays for the replacement of items in your home (furniture, appliances, etc.) lost due to burglary or extensive damage to the property, but only up to the amount stated in your policy.
- Additional Living Expenses coverage: Covers your accommodation and daily living expenses if your house becomes unlivable due to extensive damage by a covered cause.
- Personal Liability coverage: Pays for legal expenses if you or one of your family members are sued for property damage, or if someone who has suffered an injury on your property files a lawsuit.
- Medical Expenses coverage: Covers the medical bills of persons who are injured while on your property.
Remember, the coverage of your home insurance only applies to events and perils explicitly mentioned in your policy. Standard policies typically cover losses caused by fire; hail; lightning; wind; smoke; explosions; weight from snow, sleet, and ice; theft; vandalism; and civil unrest.
On the other hand, most home insurance policies do not cover losses caused by floods and earthquakes. You’ll need to purchase separate insurance or add-on coverage to protect your home and belongings against these perils. Speak to your insurance representative to make sure you know what events are covered and what events are not.
Factors That Impact Home Insurance Rates
Most first-time homebuyers usually inquire about the cost of home insurance. The average homeowner pays around $1,445 for home insurance each year. However, the cost of your policy will ultimately depend on you and specific details about your home. Common factors that affect the cost of your home insurance premium include:
- Location of your property
- Age of your home
- Construction and materials used to build your home
- Additional structures on the property
- Features and unique amenities in your home (pool, jacuzzi, trampoline, etc.)
- Square footage of your property
- Condition of your roof
- Condition of the plumbing and electrical systems
- Amount of personal property you wish to protect
- The crime rate in your neighborhood
- Amount of your deductible
- Your credit score
Replacement Value vs. Market Value
Many homeowners assume they have to cover their homes at market value. This is not the case. It is best if insurance coverage is based on the replacement cost of your home. This is the amount of money it takes to rebuild it from the ground up.
If the amount of your mortgage or your property tax assessment is used to determine the amount of your insurance coverage, you end up at a much higher cost. It is important to note that the market value of your home includes the land on which it sits, while its replacement value does not.
It is best to first consult with an independent insurance adviser before purchasing a policy if you’re still unsure how much home insurance coverage you need.
Going Without Home Insurance
It is not unusual to want to reduce monthly expenses, but canceling or forgoing home insurance is not the way to go. You may save a few hundred dollars every month, but you also leave yourself vulnerable to any unexpected events that may come your way. In the long run, it is best to be prepared.
Protect Your Home
Home insurance is a priceless tool that helps protect the financial security of an individual or a family. If a fire burns your home to the ground or a natural disaster renders debilitating damage to your property, your home insurance could be the only thing that keeps you from financial distress.
* * * * *
Rachael Harper, Guest Contributor
Rachael Harper is the Content Marketing Strategist of Bennett & Porter, a wealth management and insurance firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona. When not writing, she enjoys reading books and bowling with her family and friends.
Photos via Pexels.com