New Homeowner Insurance Basics
The lowest mortgage rates in more than three decades have fueled America’s appetite for home buying and refinancing, driving new home sales to a record level . Buying a home can be an intimidating process, especially for first-time homeowners who may feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions they are faced with, including choosing the right insurance coverage to protect their property. Find out what you need to know to protect one of their most important assets.
A home is often a person’s largest asset and protecting it properly can be complicated. The unexpected can threaten people’s homes or possessions and compromise them financially, making homeowners insurance an important consideration.
HDA Insurance Brokerage developed the following guidelines to ease the process of choosing the right insurance for new homebuyers.
First-time homebuyers may not realize that homeowners insurance covers more than just the structure of a house. It also protects the homeowner and generally anyone named on the policy, including a spouse, resident, household employee, guest or visitor. Most policies offer three kinds of protection:
1. Structures – A homeowners policy protects a person’s dwelling for damage due to common threats like fire and smoke, lightning, theft and extreme weather. Unless it is listed among a policy’s exclusions, anything that causes loss to a homeowner or his property is covered. To cover the exclusions, homeowners can often pay to add endorsements to their policy, although some exclusions, such as flood damage and earthquake damage, may require the purchase of a separate policy.
Coverage Amounts – When choosing coverage amounts, people should remember they are protecting the entire home (dwelling), not simply the amount remaining on the mortgage or their equity in the building.
2. Personal Property – Family possessions and personal property also are covered by homeowners insurance. In most cases, a policyholder will be reimbursed for damage or theft of personal property, whether the loss occurs on the protected premises or elsewhere. Recalling each item in every room can be difficult, however, so policyholders are encouraged to make an inventory of their belongings – recording the serial numbers, as well as the dates and costs of purchases for possessions such as jewelry, artwork, furniture and appliances. Personal inventories should always be stored in a fireproof safe or away from the premises, such as on videotape or a computer that is not in the house.
Coverage Amounts – Typically, the insurer sets the total value of possessions at half of what the home is insured for. But there are limits for certain items and the amount may not be sufficient to cover the replacement of property, so homeowners may want to purchase additional coverage for their possessions. Review of a homeowner’s personal inventory is the best way to determine whether his coverage is sufficient.
3. Liability – Homeowners insurance also provides compensation for liability claims and medical expenses, as well as other claims that result from property damage and personal injury suffered by others. This coverage applies whether an accident occurs on the policyholder’s property or while away from home.
Coverage Amounts – The standard amount of liability coverage is $100,000 on a typical homeowners policy. If a homeowner feels that the standard amount may be insufficient, he should consult an insurance professional about the availability of a higher level of coverage.
After establishing a policy, homeowners should periodically review their existing coverage to make sure that it keeps pace with any major purchases or improvements they make to their homes. Securing the right insurance policy at the right price is an important step in the home buying process, so homebuyers should shop around for a policy that best suits their needs and protects their most valuable asset appropriately.
Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.