Get the Most from Your Home Insurance
For most people, reading the small print in your insurance policy is not on a list of favorite “to-dos.” However, to make sure you have the best coverage, price and service, your best insurance is to be prepared. Plus, if Mother Nature ever takes aim at your home and you have to file a claim due to damage, you can help the claims process go more smoothly. Here are some steps you can take to get the most from your home insurance.
Work with a good agent.
Insurance agents work with you to find the right coverage for your home. If you have a problem, they are often your first point of contact. You can choose to buy coverage from an agent who works with select company or opt to go with an independent agent who can get quotes from a number of different companies. Besides price, check out ratings and reviews of agents and their companies online. Make sure the carrier you select has a history of financial stability.
Ask about discounts.
Some carriers will offer discounts for bundling home and auto insurance, or if you have extra protection such as burglar alarms or smoke detectors. Companies may also offer discounts for military personnel or seniors. Ask your agent if you qualify for any of these savings.
Know what your policy covers.
Insurance carriers offer a wide array of policies to cover homes and residences. These can span from a basic policy with minimal protection to more comprehensive policies with much broader protection. In most cases, standard policies cover damage caused by fire, windstorms, hail, lightning, theft or vandalism. Generally, floods and earthquakes are excluded and will need a separate policy. High-end items like jewelry, furs and antiques may require a separate rider as well.
Understand your deductible.
Generally, you will have to pay a set amount before your insurance coverage is accessible. Usually, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. Some policies have a percentage deductible where you pay a percentage instead of a set dollar amount.
Keep an updated inventory list.
Take an inventory of your possessions via video or hard copy, and keep it in a safe place. Update it regularly.
If damage occurs, contact your agent or insurance carrier as soon as possible. Do the following:
- Make a complete list of damages to your home and property.
- Protect your property from additional damage. Cover broken windows, turn off water and gas sources or take other necessary steps to prevent further loss.
- Document the damage. Take photos, save damaged property and provide documentation, such as product manuals and receipts if you can.
- Save receipts for additional living expenses.
- Work with your claims adjuster on an estimate and claims settlement.
- Get professional help for repairs.
- Make sure the mortgage company on your policy is current. This could affect the name on your claims payment.
Perform an annual review.
Meet with your agent once a year to make sure you have the right coverage. If you have remodeled or made a major purchase or life change, your insurance coverage should be updated.
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