Three Things to Know Before Buying Homeowners Insurance in Your State

Homeowners insurance may seem easy enough, but there are certain personalized facts about your home that are important to know before purchasing an insurance plan in your state. Allow the independent insurance agent or broker to help you determine your home replacement cost. You can feel free to get a quote from a builder as well. Be sure to consider and unique, custom features of your home before caluclating. Several different factors could affect the outcome of the insurance package for the homeowner. Many of these factors can dramatically reduce the cost of the home insurance as well, so it’s crucial for every homeowner to know the following top three factors before settling on a home insurance plan.

1. How Old is the Home?

The age and condition of the home has a big impact on the type of homeowners insurance for which you are eligible. The older the home is, the more likely it is to be vulnerable to damage and require repairs. If you are the homeowner of an especially old home, the best thing to do would be to highlight the secure aspects of the home, such as a new roof or a stable foundation, to compensate for the home’s age.

2. How Large is the Home?

It’s important to know the exact size of the home (in square feet) because size will often determine the price of the coverage. This is simply because repairing or replacing the damage done to a larger area compared to a smaller area is always more expensive for the insurance company. The more exact the homeowner is with the square footage, the more accurate the final price for insurance will be.

3. Where is the Home Located?

A homeowner should always let the insurance agent know the exact location of the home while highlighting any factors that may lower the cost of insurance coverage. This is important because insurance tends to be higher in areas where crime is more prevalent or primitive areas that may not receive fast attention in case of an emergency. For example, a home far away from a fire hydrant would pay more for fire insurance coverage since it would likely take much longer for professionals to extinguish the fire in this unfortunate event.

What Should I do if my Neighbor’s Tree Fell and Damaged my Property?

Storms and other accidents can cause damage to trees and other structures around your property. If your neighbor’s tree fell and damaged your property, you will probably need to file the loss with your homeowners insurance plan. When trees from a neighbor’s property fall during storms, it is a tricky situation when deciding who should pay for the damage and to have the tree removed. In most states, unless the homeowner with the tree was negligent in removing a dead tree, the person with the property damage will be liable for the loss.

When searching for homeowners insurance coverage, you need to consider all types of plans. You will need to take care of your personal property inside the home, the structure of your home, and other types of accidents like personal liability. Although the tree may have been in your neighbor’s yard, if it fell because of a severe storm, and not because it was dead and rotting, the neighbor cannot be held responsible for the damage. It may be annoying to take care of a tree that fell in your yard, but if you have a great insurance plan, you should have nothing to worry about.

If the tree that fell presented a hazard and you notified your neighbor in writing about the dead tree, you may able to file a suit and force your neighbor to pay for the damage. Usually this is not the case and it is easier to file the claim with your own insurance company. Depending on the amount of damage, your insurance claim should be quick and simple.

Compare quotes and rates for the best homeowners insurance and you will be prepared when unexpected accidents happen. If you combine your car and home insurance together on the same plan, you can save even more money. You may also be able to find discounts for safety precautions and installing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your home. Remember car and home insurance are two of the most important coverages you can purchase to protect yourself and your family.

What Liability Limits Should I Have on my Homeowners Policy?

In addition to providing money to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged in a covered incident, homeowners insurance also includes liability coverage. This type of insurance pays for claims made against you when someone is hurt while on your property. They may fall down the stairs, get hurt on your trampoline, or get bitten by your dog. The right amount of coverage to purchase depends on several factors.

Consider Risk Factors

You should definitely increase the standard liability limits if your home includes at least one of the major risk factors. In particular, dog bites are behind 1/3 of personal injury liability claims, so you should increase your liability limits from $100,000 to $300,000 if you have a dog, particularly if it is a breed that is known to be aggressive. You also may want to increase your limits if you frequently have people over to your home, particularly if they use a pool, hot tub, trampoline, or other feature that increases risk of personal injury.

Consider Your Net Worth

It’s wise to increase the liability limits on your homeowners policy if you have a high net worth, and therefore a significant amount of assets to protect. Add up your annual salary, equity in your home, the value of your other assets, and your investments. If these total more than $300,000, you may want to go up to the maximum liability coverage allowed on your homeowners insurance policy. This is because you have more at risk to lose, so you want the insurance company to pay out more in a claim before you are personally liable to cover the rest.

Consider Umbrella Coverage

If your assets are worth more than, say, half a million dollars, then it is probably wise for you to add umbrella coverage. This is a type of liability insurance that kicks in once the liability coverage on your homeowners or auto insurance policy has been exhausted. You can usually purchase one million dollars of coverage for just a few hundred dollars per year, and this provides additional peace of mind for you.

What should I look for when purchasing umbrella insurance?

All of us have heard the term "policy limits" when buying auto insurance or homeowners insurance, but most likely never gave it much thought. Simply put policy limits are when your insurance stops paying and you are liable for losses past the policy limits.

Say you have an auto insurance policy with $100 thousand liability insurance per person and $300,000 per accident. This means that if you injure an individual in an auto wreck and are sued successfully for $250 thousand you are on the hook for additional $150 thousand dollars.

The way to gain protection above your policy limits is to purchase an excess liability policy. These policies are often called "umbrella policies."

Buying Umbrella Insurance

Before you go purchasing an umbrella policy you must check on your auto policy and homeowners/renters/condo insurance policy. When you buy an umbrella policy you must have certain minimum liability coverage in those basic policies. Usually for auto insurance it is $100/$300 thousand.

Generally the least amount of coverage you can buy when purchasing an umbrella policy is $1 million, but many folks opt to extend their liability coverage for personal damage and injury to as high as $5 million. They do this because the additional coverage is very affordable.

Things to Do When Purchasing an Umbrella Policy

  • Make sure the policy covers the cost of legal defense or negotiations in the event you are sued
  • Exposure to slander and liable claims is greater in the age of the Internet, make sure this is a covered risk
  • Before you buy get a sample policy and look over all the issues that are covered, even better, get two or three sample policies in order to compare coverage.
  • Once you have decided on all the coverage you want get quotes from three insurance companies, you can do this online or through your broker if you have one.

Umbrella policies are not for the rich only. An accident or incident can endanger all your assets, including your home, your savings and if you are a business owner even your business. Coverage expense is very affordable and the peace of mind you have knowing you have protected yourself is well worth the cost.

Ways to Save Money on my Boat Insurance

Did you know that you could save money on your boat insurance policy? If you own a boat, of any type, you know the importance of having adequate insurance to cover any type of damage you may have. However, there’s no reason why you should overpay for this type of protection. If you are working with an independent agent, it is possible to get a lower price on the insurance you need. The key here is to find the right policy for you and to ask for the lowest price available.

You Can Bundle It

One of the easiest ways to save money on your boat insurance policy is simply to bundle this insurance policy with other insurance products you have. If you have auto insurance, homeowners insurance, or even business insurance, if you buy them from the same company, you can bundle the policies together. This can save you a substantial amount of money immediately without any reduction in the coverage you have. Do not have a separate policy just for your recreational vehicle.

Be a Good Driver

Often times, insurance companies will reduce the cost of coverage to you if you do not file claims often. Just as a good driver gets a discount on his or her auto insurance, a good boat owner also reduces his or her costs by not filing claims often. This does mean maintaining your boat properly and ensuring only those with experience are behind the wheel. In some cases, claim-free boaters can save as much as 25 percent.

Additional Discounts May Apply

There are likely other insurance policy discounts available to you. In some cases, you may get a discount for completing a safety course. You may save if you have more than one boat to cover on the same policy. If you are the original owner and the boat is paid in full, you may also qualify for a lower rate.

When it comes to getting the lowest possible cost related to your boaters insurance, work with an independent agent. This agent will help you to compare policies form numerous insurance providers until you find the one with the lowest overall cost to you. Ultimately, comparison-shopping could save you the most money of any of these discounts. You just need to know who has the best policy at the lowest rate. Your independent agent will help you to track this down.

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.

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.

The Difference Between Canceling and Non-renewing Homeowners Insurance

There is a big difference between canceling and non-renewing an insurance policy. The difference is that one could affect your credit rating and your ability to get insurance from another carrier. You need to understand the difference between these two terms and make sure you have continuous coverage on your homeowners insurance.

If you cancel your homeowners insurance because you sold your home or you are no longer living in the residence, you will need to contact the insurance provider in writing. You may even be due a refund if your premium was paid in full and there are several months left on the policy. On the other hand, if the insurance company cancels your policy, it is usually because you have not made your payments or you have had an unusual amount of claims during the policy period. If your coverage was canceled because of nonpayment, this will affect your credit rating. Also, if one company cancels your policy, other companies may not be willing to insure you either.

Non-renewing a homeowners insurance plan is different. This is when either you, or the company, decide to no longer do business together. Many homeowners choose to shop around for better rates on insurance. When you are comparing quotes online, you may find a more affordable payment for the same type of coverage. In this case, you would not renew your policy when it is up. You will probably want to make sure the insurance company doesn’t automatically renew your plan by sending them notice in writing. If the company does not renew your policy, it may be because they are no longer servicing your area or they may not provide that type of insurance any longer. Just make sure you always have continuous homeowners insurance by comparing rates online.

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.

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.