9 Things to Know About Your Homeowner’s Insurance

homeowners insuranceYour home, your castle, your escape from the world. It’s also, almost certainly, the single largest investment you’ll ever make, by far. Thus your homeowner’s insurance policy is of vital importance, and usually required by the lender. Homeowner’s plans vary, but no matter your neighborhood or locality, sufficient protection includes four components:

Coverage of structure

The most important part of any policy, coverage of structure applies to damage to your home itself from fire, storms, vandalism and other disasters (save exceptions listed below). Protection usually applies to other structures on your property such as a storage shed or detached garage. Insurers typically offer coverage for as little as ten percent of the cost to rebuild. A word to the wise: make sure you have coverage for 100 percent of the cost to rebuild. In the event your home is destroyed, for instance burning to the ground, you’re protected. To determine the right amount of coverage, get an estimate from a builder, or figure it out yourself with the calculator at Building-Cost.net.

Coverage of contents

Most policies will cover the value of your personal belonging from theft or damage due to fire, storms and covered disasters. The typical coverage limit is 50 percent of the coverage value of the structure. So if your rebuilding coverage is $200,000, then your contents coverage can’t exceed $100,000. If you have expensive artwork or other significant valuables, you’ll likely need a separate policy to cover them. To help you determine the replacement value of your home’s contents, make a detailed list of all your belongings – furniture, jewelry, clothing, tools, computers, appliances, electronics and other items of value. A good idea is to take pictures of major belongings and store them in a separate location. Having photos will be a big help when filing replacement claims.

Liability protection

Your policy should also cover any damage to your neighbors’ home, for instance if your son breaks a window with a baseball. This protection extends to personal liability in the event a visitor is injured on your property. They can usually submit any medical bills directly to your insurer. In the event someone files suit, liability coverage pays for legal fees and any court awards, up to your policy limit. Experts recommend at least $300,000 of liability coverage. Most insurers will offer coverage starting at $100,000.

Living expenses reimbursement

In the event you and your family are displaced due to fire or other damage to your home, coverage for living expenses will pay for hotel bills, restaurant tabs, rental cars and other associated costs while repairs are underway. While the huge majority of insurance needs are covered above, it should be noted that most policies do not cover the following:

Flooding

While most policies cover water damage from storms and bursting pipes, as a rule they do not cover damage due to water flowing into the home from rising riverbanks or broken levees and dams. If you live at or near the waterline or in an area at risk of flash floods, you’ll need to get flood insurance provided by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Earthquakes

That’s right, among “acts of god” clauses in most policies, earthquakes are not covered. To cover shakers and tremblers, you’ll need an extra policy. Prices vary widely based on location and age of structure. Deductibles are usually based on a percentage of structure value, rather than a fixed amount.

Trampolines

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, trampoline accidents account for over 90,000 emergency room visits each year. Most insurance companies refuse to cover injuries suffered due to trampolines, and some will refuse coverage altogether if one is on the property.

“Aggressive” dog breeds

Justified or not, most insurers will exclude coverage of injuries due to dog bites from breeds identified as “aggressive,” such as Pit Bulls, protection that would usually apply under most liability policies. These lists comprise breeds with the most reported bites annually and they change each year. News reports and popular culture also are influencers. Dobermans were the feared breed decades ago, verses Rottweilers and “Pitties” today.

War

Whether nuclear, biological or conventional, insurers recognized a long time ago that warfare in any form is uninsurable. However, unless specifically excluded, most policies do cover home damage from acts of terrorism. In fact some states, including Florida, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Texas, prohibit insurers from excluding terrorism. For more information on insurance and other home-related issues, consult the Homeowners’ Resources page at USA.gov. LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in the complete repair of fire, smoke, wind, water and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


 

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