Five Questions to Ask your Insurance Agent
If you own a home, you need homeowners insurance. As your life changes, your insurance may need adjusting as well. So, whether you are just starting out or a veteran homeowner, now is the perfect time to make sure you have the right coverage.
Here are five questions you may want to ask your agent:
1. How much insurance do I really need?
That question really is different for everyone. If you are newlyweds in your first dream home, your answer may be quite different from empty nesters who collect valuable antiques. The most important thing is to ensure you have enough homeowners insurance to protect your home, its contents and other covered assets in case of a disaster, plus yourself, if someone has an accident at your home. You’ll want to have enough coverage to completely rebuild and refurnish your home if the worst-case scenario occurs.
2. What is covered in my policy?
Standard homeowners policies generally provide coverage for your home, contents and medical liability up to certain policy limits. Some events, like floods or earthquakes, specifically are not covered in a standard policy. They’ll require the purchase of additional coverage. Also, a typical homeowners policy covers personal belongings and furnishings up to certain limits. For higher-value items, like wedding rings or expensive artwork, you may want to expand your protection with extra coverage. You can also add endorsements for coverage like mechanical equipment breakdown.
3. Are there other policy specifics I should know?
Be aware that not all insurance policies are alike. Your deductible, policy term, exclusions and conditions are specific to your individual policy. Be sure you go over these details with your agent. You’ll also want to know how you will be indemnified if you have a loss – whether actual cash value or replacement cost. Actual cash value coverage pays you what your belongings are worth less depreciation, while replacement cost will cover to replace them at current prices (minus your deductible). That can be a big difference. Remember, an insurance policy is a legally binding contract, and there are conditions you are required to fulfill. For example, if you incur damage, you should take steps to prevent any further damage and notify your insurance company in a timely manner. If you don’t follow your conditions, a claim can be denied.
4. What can I expect if I have a claim?
Before you have a claim, make sure you have a written or video inventory of your home and its contents. It will make the entire claims process go smoother. If you have damage to your home and need to file a claim, call your agent or insurance carrier right away. Your insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to work with you. The adjuster will complete an estimate of the damage and the cost to repair or replace damage and/or contents and determine if and what your policy covers. You can work with your adjuster and an experienced professional to make repairs.
5. How can I save money on home insurance?
Many factors, such as your location, your credit score and even type of pet, can affect the cost of your homeowners coverage. The good news is that nearly all insurers offer price breaks on coverage for good behavior (such as a good driving record and excellent credit score). Buying your homeowners and automobile insurance together (bundling) or opting for a higher deductible also can help lower your bill. However, it’s important to be cautious about selecting an insurance company based solely on price. Rather, look for companies with reputations for excellent customer service, strong financial standing and a reputation for handling claims quickly and fairly.
Shopping for a new home? One of our New Home Specialists would love to help you.