Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Foundation Cracks from Soil Expansion?

Homeowners insurance does not always cover the damages your home faces. Sometimes, the most costly problems receive not attention from your insurance provider. It is a good idea to know what your policy offers and what it does not offer prior to agreeing to the terms. When it comes to your home’s foundation, there may be no other portion of the home more important to maintain. What happens if the soil expansion occurring near the foundation becomes too much for the walls and this leads to the development of cracks?

It Depends on your Policy

Every homeowner’s policy is different and ultimately you and your insurance agent need to determine if such a problem is covered. In most policies, general maintenance is not considered a covered expense. It is up to your insurance company to determine if soil expansion is in fact a type of maintenance. This is often a loose definition, which means you could be in for a fact-finding process to determine the cause of the problem.

In general, it is considered maintenance if your foundation is damaged from soil expansion. Most of the time, soil expansion occurs because of moisture within the soil (such as from rain or snow) getting into the soil and freezing. As it freezes, it causes the soil and space to expand. If this occurs, it can cause cracks in the foundation walls especially in severe situations. Most types of water damage are not covered under homeowner’s insurance policies because maintaining the foundation is the homeowner’s responsibility.

In other cases, it may be. If you have an all-risk policy and it does not have any exclusion for foundation problems, your insurance company may be responsible for this repair. Additionally, if your foundation damage occurred because of a pipe bursting which lead to the soil expansion (due to the freezing of the water) this may lead to a covered incident.

Unfortunately, it is up to you to maintain your home’s foundation. If you fail to do so and it is due to poor maintenance that the cracks occurred, your agent may be unable to help you. However, there is no reason not to contact the company and to determine if this type of occurrence is covered. If this is a big problem where you live, ensure your all-risk policy includes foundation protection from such incidents.

How do You Know if a Property You are Looking to Purchase has been Foreclosed on?

Property is cheap these days, with many bargains to be had due to the many home buyers who had sub-prime mortgages but were then unable to pay their monthly payments. If you’re not sure whether or not the home you want to purchase has been foreclosed on, there are several ways in which you can find out.

Typically, the advertisements in newspapers and fliers will note whether or not the home has been foreclosed upon, but sometimes the information is not disclosed publicly. You can go to the agent who is selling the house to inquire about more information. If you can’t get in contact with them, try asking a real estate agent whom you know as they know how to check the public records in order to find that information easily and quickly.

You can also go to your county’s courthouse and check for a Lis Penden which is the Latin term used for a pending law suit, or foreclosure. The information should be in the land records office and information may be available on their website. Information of the foreclosure will also be listed in the local newspaper, so you can go to your library, if that’s easier than a trip to the courthouse, and ask the staff for the easiest way in which you can search their newspaper archives. And since most newspapers put a lot of their information on the web, you might even be able to find it online. You can also see if the home shows up in the short sale listings as a short sale is just one step before a foreclosure.

There are also websites that can inform you whether or not the home you are looking at is in going to be, in the process of or already been foreclosed on. Not all of these sites cover the whole United States, and some charge a fee, so you may have to check a couple of sites in order to get the most complete information.

If you do determine that the house you want to buy is a foreclosure, do make sure to inspect it thoroughly, especially if it’s been vacant for any length of time. If no one’s living in it, there could be damages caused by improper maintenance during that the vacancy. However, if you can get your hands on a good foreclosure, you’re likely getting a great deal!

How do I Report Hail Damage?

Major storms can happen almost any time of the year. If the storm is severe, you may experience hail that could damage your home or your vehicle. If you find hail damage on your property, you will want to check your insurance policy and make sure you are covered for this type of incident. When comparing quotes for insurance, you need to make sure you have adequate coverage and not just a cheap policy.

First you want to complete an inspection of your property. Make sure you have a camera handy or plan to take video with your cell phone. Often the roof is the most likely place you will receive hail damage on your home. This can severely damage the shingles and you will need to have repairs made quickly. You may also have hail damage to windows or other buildings on your property. If you have a metal shed where you store lawn or garden supplies, hail can cause a lot of damage. Make sure you take pictures of all of the damage as soon as possible.

Next, you will want to call your insurance company to make a claim. This usually needs to be done within the first 24 – 48 hours after the storm. You can explain the situation and more than likely, if the storm was severe, the company has received other calls for damage in your area. Your insurance company will probably need to send an adjuster to your home to inspect the damage. You can include pictures you have taken, but the insurance company will probably take pictures also.

The next step to report hail damage is calling a contractor to give estimates to fix the damage. Just like you have to get 2-3 estimates when making repairs to your auto, you will also need estimates for your home. You do not have to go with the lowest estimate. Your insurance company will compare the price and the reputation of the contractor and help you make a decision about who to hire.

Finally, your insurance company will give you a claim number and will settle on an amount to pay for the damage. Depending on your deductible, you should get a check in the mail that will cover the cost of the repairs. Now that you know how to report hail damage, hopefully you will never need the information.

Can I Own a Home Without Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect your house (the physical structure,) and your property. Under some circumstances, there is no law or other requirement to force a homeowner to purchase homeowners insurance in order to own a home. Many people who own older homes don’t insure the home, but if you don’t purchase homeowners insurance, you could lose everything, and be forced to face financial destitution. There are circumstances under which you absolutely have to purchase homeowners insurance in order to complete the transaction for the purchase of the home. Who Doesn’t Have to Have Homeowners Insurance? If you are building or buying a home and don’t need a mortgage to pay for the home, you won’t be forced to purchase homeowners insurance. In a case like this, if you don’t purchase homeowners insurance, any catastrophe could wipe out all of the equity you had in the home, and you would be left without the finances to either repair or replace your property. You would lose everything. When Purchasing a Condo If you buy a condo, the physical structure is insured under the property owner’s insurance. If you pay for the condo in full, and don’t need to borrow the money to finance the purchase, you don’t have to purchase homeowners insurance, but without doing so, you have no protection for any of your personal property. This is another situation where you could face financial ruin. Mortgages to Buy or Build a Home or Condo If you borrow money in the form of a mortgage, whether to build a new home, or to purchase an existing one, the lender will demand proof that you have a homeowner’s insurance policy. Unless you can bring your lender a copy of the policy as proof that the home is insured, none of the papers that finalize the mortgage can go through. You will also be required to include the lender as a co-beneficiary on the policy. The reason for this is to provide the lender with the assurance that if the home is destroyed by something that is specifically covered by the policy, the lender will recoup their money as soon as the insurance company issues a check that is made out to both you and the lender. Since the check is made out to two beneficiaries (you and the lender,) you won’t be able to cash the check without the lender’s signature. The insurance money is supposed to cover whatever is still owed on the mortgage. If the amount of the check is for more than what you still owe on the mortgage, the extra money goes to you. Homeowners insurance isn’t that different than health insurance. In both cases, you are paying to insure something of great value (yourself, your family members, or your home and property,) in case of something catastrophic. Without the homeowners insurance, you could be totally wiped out financially, without resources to rebuild your destroyed home, or repair any damage. Since you also insure the contents of the home, homeowners insurance provides you with the assurance and peace of mind that you will be able to get enough money to replace lost possessions – as long as you insure your property for replacement as opposed to actual value.)

Are there Insurance Companies that Specialize Policies for Older Homes?

Finding insurance for an older home does not have to be difficult. There are many companies that specialize in older home insurance coverage for an affordable price. You should always compare quotes to find a rate that fits your budget and your needs.

Whether your home is 20 years old, or considered an historic home, the insurance needs will vary compared to new homes. Homes that were built many years ago may have out dated building materials or tile and crown molding that can no longer be found. For this reason, many home insurance companies will not insure an older home. You will need to find a plan that specializes in older properties and will give you the coverage you need.

Insurance policies are listed from HO-1 to HO-8. An HO-1 policy is basic and only covers the bare necessities. If you live in a newer home, you probably have an HO-3 plan. Most older homes, on the other hand, will require HO-8 coverage. Many insurance companies will insure an older home for the market value. Unless you live in a historic home, you probably would not want to re-build the house using all of the outdated materials anyway. By insuring the home for the value, you will pay a lower rate and you will still be able to replace the home.

Many companies may also offer a better rate by not insuring the old plumbing or electrical systems. This would mean that if a fire or flood occurred because of the plumbing or electrical, the insurance company would not take care of the damages. Although this type of policy might save you money each month, in the long run, if there was a problem, you would be left paying for the damages out of pocket.

The best plan of action is to find companies that specialize in policies for older homes. Comparing the rates of several insurance plans will help you find one that offers the protection you need for a price you can afford. People often enjoy living in their childhood home, but don’t always consider the special considerations that go into living in older homes. Make sure you are prepared for any type of disaster with a great insurance plan.

New Home Buyers: How much Homeowners Insurance do I need?

When buying a new home, you may be wondering how much homeowners insurance you will need. There are many variables that go into calculating homeowners insurance and as new home buyers you will probably have lots of questions. The best way to make sure you end up with adequate coverage is to speak with an insurance agent who can answer your questions and find the best policy for your situation.

There are several components to homeowners insurance, but the basic types are dwelling coverage, other structure protection, and personal property insurance. The dwelling coverage will take care of your home. If you are buying a brand new home – you will need to calculate the value the entire structure. This will include hardwood floors, whirlpool tubs, and remote control fireplaces. You need to have enough coverage to replace or rebuild these items in the event of a disaster. The other structure protection will cover your garage, shed or barn. Depending on the items you keep in these areas and the size, you will need to calculate the value of the buildings. Finally, personal property insurance will take care of your clothing, electronics and jewelry if there is a fire or disaster that affects your home.

As new home buyers, you need to make sure you find the homeowners insurance you need for the price you want to pay. Comparing quotes from several providers will help you make the final choice. Speaking with an insurance agent who can answer your questions will also be helpful. Determining how much homeowners insurance you need is based on a lot of different factors and you may even want to speak with a local agent who can give you the best estimate for your area. Buying a home is exciting, don’t let a disaster ruin your day.

Tips to Avoiding a Home Burglary

For most Americans, there are few worse feelings of violation than coming home to find out your house has been burglarized. Even if your homeowner’s insurance covers loss due to theft, it cannot compensate for the difficult emotions and personal losses you may be subjected to. Fortunately there are some helpful tips for avoiding a home burglary altogether.

Outside of Your Home

Start by making your house less appealing to thieves. Most burglars prefer to break into homes that are not well lit and are hidden from passersby. To deter thieves, install plenty of lighting around your property — especially near doors and windows. If you have hedges, shrubs or trees in your yard, be sure to keep them well trimmed and manicured so they will not obstruct the view of your home to others passing by.

Inside Your House

Typically, thieves are not going to break into your home to steal your family photos and trinkets. Instead, they are usually after high-priced items that are easily resold for cash, such as large electronics, weapons and rare collectibles. To prevent theft, keep these items away from the view of the public. For example, if you purchase a top-of-the-line flat screen television, do not place it in front of a window, as this could be eye candy for burglars.

Security

To further protect your home from burglary, install a home security system. Monitored systems sound an alarm when a thief breaks glass or breaks open a door. Often, signs posted outside your home indicating the presence of an alarm system are enough to prevent thieves from breaking in, but if not, an ear-splitting alarm will be enough to wake neighbors and also dispatch police should a burglar enter your home. Furthermore, installing a monitored alarm system can significantly lower your homeowner’s insurance rates.

Is Hazard Insurance Covered under Homeowners Insurance?

Hazard insurance is part of your home owners insurance policy. This is the portion of your plan that will take care of fire or other hazards in the event of disaster. The other portion of the plan is liability insurance. This will take care of medical expenses if someone is injured while visiting your home. It is important to have both hazard and liability insurance coverage. If your home is destroyed, you want to repair or replace it as quickly as possible.

Although you do not want to think about your home being devastated by a fire, flood or other disaster, if it does happen, your hazard insurance will cover the expense of either repairing the damage or even rebuilding your home. Homeowners insurance may not be required by law, but if you have a mortgage on your home, your lender will probably require this type of protection. Since hazards vary from state to state, you will want to look at the policy and make sure you are covered for all types of disasters that are common for you area. Some areas may require special hazard coverage for flooding or hurricanes. Make sure when you compare quotes, you understand the type of protection you need.

When speaking with an agent, you can ask "Is hazard insurance covered under my homeowners insurance policy?" This will help you determine the type of plan you need and still find a policy you can afford. The best way to make sure you have a great plan is to compare rates. Do not just choose the first quote you find, when you compare both price and coverage, you might be able to get a better deal. Knowing you have top of the line insurance coverage will ensure peace of mind.

Insurance 101: Home Inventory will Help You Know What You Own

If you are considering updating your home insurance policy, you need to make sure you know how much coverage you need for all of your personal belongings. Often, people forget to update their policy when they buy new things or get rid of old items. Making sure you have the protection you need when a disaster strikes will ensure you can get back on your feet quickly.

Taking a home inventory is the first step to identifying how much insurance coverage you need for your home. One of the easiest ways to do this is to go through each room of your home and write down all of the items that would need to be replaced if there was a flood, fire or other natural disaster. Some people even choose to take pictures or a video with their cell phone. This is a great idea if you want to make sure you can prove that you actually know what you own and the condition of the items before you make a claim. Remember to include collectibles and expensive jewelry when you are making your home inventory. Your home insurance is there to help you when you need it, but sometimes the stress of the situation will make it difficult to remember all of your items.

Before searching online for home insurance quotes, make sure you make a list of your home inventory and store it in a safe location. You may even want to give a copy of the list and pictures or video to a friend or family member. Next, you can calculate the value of your items and decide how much home insurance you need. You want to get life back to normal as quickly as possible after a disaster, so make sure your home protection is ready when you need it.

Is there Homeowners Insurance for a Home that Needs Repair?

There is homeowners insurance that will provide coverage for your home even if it needs repairs. Sometimes, people who purchase homes that are fixer uppers, worry about whether they will be able to find protection while the repairs are being made. Often, once an insurance carrier sees the condition of your home, it may drop your coverage. It may require a little extra effort to find a company to insure your home, but it will be worth the time and energy.

The best way to make sure you have the homeowners insurance you need, to take care of a home that needs repair, is to be upfront with your agent from the beginning. There are companies that specialize in this type of protection and you need to compare quotes from several companies to find one that offers an affordable payment. You will want to make sure the insurance provider understands that you do plan to make the repairs to the home, but it may take some time. During this process, you will still want to make sure you are covered in the event of a natural disaster, fire or theft. Check online for rates that meet your budget needs and make sure your homeowners insurance is protecting you at all times.

A home that needs repair still needs to be covered by homeowners insurance. You never know when a windstorm, fire or other disaster could affect the home you are putting your heart and soul into renovating. Making sure you find an insurance carrier that will cover this type of structure is important. Finding a policy you can also afford is equally important. Comparing quotes online will only take a matter of minutes and you will find the coverage you need with a payment you can afford to pay. Go online and get your homeowners insurance today.