Homeownership can be thrilling. You get to set the rules for when it’s time for lights out, and the possibilities for Netflix binges with midnight snacks are infinite. Thing is, in order to enjoy the freedoms that come with the territory, you really need to equip your home with the proper protection. Homeowners insurance protects your home from common hazards like fire, theft, and tons more. So here’s a closer look at how to buy it, when you need to get it, and more.
Where and How to Buy Homeowners Insurance
When you’re on the hunt for the right policy to protect your home, luckily, independent insurance agents can fight most of that battle for you. Independent agents shop multiple insurance companies for you to find the right protection at the best possible rate. They’ll even hook you up with multiple quotes and options for you to choose from.
Working with a local independent insurance agent also puts you at a distinct advantage because local agents know the coverage needs in your specific area. For example, they know that in certain areas of the country your home will be prone to various natural disasters, and they’ll know what additional coverages to search for in order to get you all the protection you need. Really, it’s a win-win.
Common Secrets to Buying Home Insurance
When shopping for the right home insurance for you, it’s handy to know some “secrets” that could help save you a bundle of money on your coverage.
Top secrets when buying home insurance
- Shop for a house with a pool: This can be money saving if you’re located far away from a fire station. Homeowners who have pools can qualify for discounts on their home insurance if they live far from a fire department in case the crew is in need of a water source.
- Bundle your coverage: When you combine your home insurance with another form of coverage such as auto insurance through the same carrier, you can often qualify for a nice discount on your policies.
- Work with an independent insurance agent: Independent insurance agents can greatly help customers find the right coverage for them from the right insurance company by browsing multiple options. Working with an independent insurance agent can also save you a lot of time and effort when hunting for the best coverage for your needs.
While an independent insurance agent can help you find the most affordable coverage around, so can these convenient and little-known tricks.
Secret Home Insurance Discounts
Now that you’re familiar with some secrets during the shopping process, it’s even better to be informed about some of the many insurance discounts hiding out there.
These are just a few of the “secret” discounts available for home insurance
- Loyalty: Many insurance companies reward customers who remain with them over a certain period of time, such as a couple of years or more, by introducing a discount on their coverage.
- Good credit: Good credit scores can benefit you in many ways, including scoring a great discount on your home insurance.
- No claims history: When you don’t have a history of claims, insurance companies tend to favor you a bit more, and often will hook you up with a nice discount on your coverage.
- New roof: Insurance companies are very concerned about your home’s roof, as it can lead to a lot of disasters if it’s in bad shape. If you take the time to replace or upgrade your home’s roof, your insurance company is likely to reward you with a discount.
- Updated home: Other components of your home can earn you a discount when you update them as well, including the plumbing and wiring systems.
An independent insurance agent can help scout out any discounts and other money-saving hacks that may apply to you when it comes to home insurance.
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What to Look for When Buying Homeowners Insurance
While independent insurance agents can do much of the hard work for you, it’s still beneficial for you to be familiar with what coverages are included in standard homeowners policies before ever calling them. Your specific homeowners insurance policy may end up looking a little different depending on your unique home’s needs, but in general, there are four major coverage components in standard policies.
Typically, standard homeowners insurance policies provide the following coverages
- Structural damage: Covers what insurance companies refer to as the “dwelling,” or the structure of the home itself.
- Personal property damage: Covers your personal belongings like furniture, clothing, electronics, knickknacks, old toy collections, silverware, etc., from perils such as fire or theft.
- Liability: Covers legal expenses such as attorney and court fees in the event you are sued for bodily injury or property damage to a third party.
- Additional living expenses: Covers living expenses in the event your home gets badly damaged or destroyed, and you’re forced to live elsewhere while awaiting repairs.
Your independent insurance agent can further explain these coverages for you and why you need them if you have questions. They’ll also work with you to make sure you walk away with enough coverage in every area for your new home.
Replacement Cost Home Insurance vs. Actual Cash Value Coverage
If you opt for a replacement cost home insurance policy, your insurance company will reimburse you up to the amount necessary to replace damage or destroyed parts of your home or its contents without factoring in possible depreciation. Actual cash value policies, however, do factor in an item’s depreciation and only match its current value when offering reimbursement.
You may want to choose replacement cost coverage to get the most out of your home insurance policy. However, the premiums for replacement cost coverage can certainly be more expensive. An independent insurance agent can help you decide which coverage type is right for you.
Consider Topping off Your Coverage with Umbrella Insurance
While home insurance provides a good amount of liability protection, it’s not enough for many huge lawsuits out there. Even something as seemingly simple as a dog bite can cost thousands of dollars or more in a settlement.
Umbrella insurance extends your liability coverage by increments of $1 million, and are often highly affordable to purchase. Having umbrella coverage makes sense if you have a lot of assets or valuable property, and an independent insurance agent can help you get set up with it.
Other Important Policies to Add to Home Insurance
You may not be sufficiently covered by just a standard homeowners insurance policy. Here are just a few commonly added coverages to home insurance.
- Business liability coverage: Folks who operate a business out of their home will need a special type of coverage known as home-business insurance, since home insurance does not cover business liabilities.
- Special vehicles coverage: Most home insurance policies limit liability coverage for special vehicles including ATVs, boats, aircraft, and more. You might even need special coverage for your riding lawnmower.
- Flood insurance: Sadly, no matter where you live, your home insurance policy excludes natural flood damage caused by hurricanes and monsoons, etc. That’s why it’s important to consider adding a flood insurance policy on top of your home insurance.
What’s the Best Type of Homeowners Insurance for Me?
Well, that depends entirely on what type of home you live in. It’s pretty self-explanatory, really. If you live in a townhouse, you’ll need to get townhouse insurance. If you live in a houseboat, you’ll need houseboat insurance, and so on.
While the core coverages of many different types of homeowners policies often remain consistent, your insurance will be tweaked a little by your home type and its policy to meet its unique protection needs. Plus, no matter what kind of home you have, your independent insurance agent will know what coverages to look for to get you set up with exactly what you need.
Here are a few of the most common types of homeowners insurance policies
- Townhouse insurance: Designed for owners of townhouses. If the townhouse is also a condo, coverage will include protection for the owner’s share of the “common areas” within the community.
- Mobile home insurance: Designed for owners of homes constructed in a factory and then taken to the property to be set up. These homes may be on wheels, but not necessarily. Coverage still looks very similar to standard homeowners insurance.
- Modular home insurance: Designed for owners of homes that are constructed in factories and then shipped in sections to be assembled on the property. Again, coverage looks very similar to standard homeowners insurance.
- Houseboat insurance: Designed for owners of watercraft, such as yachts, that also double as homes. Coverage includes elements of watercraft policies and mobile home policies.
- Condo insurance: Designed for owners of condos. Coverage includes protection for the condo owner’s percentage share of the “common elements” within the main building as well as any structural/fixtures within the unit that the owner is responsible for.
- Vacation home insurance: Designed for owners of cabins, lake houses, etc., that serve the specific purpose of being used for recreational activities and are not the primary residence.
- Secondary home insurance: Designed for owners of more than one primary residence. Coverage for the second home will be practically identical to the first.
- High-value home insurance: Designed for owners of very expensive homes like luxury estates. Coverage limits are much higher than in traditional homeowners insurance, and policies may include add-on coverages such as kidnap and ransom insurance for high-profile individuals.
Depending on what type of home you live in, your homeowners insurance policy will be tailored to match it. Be sure to talk to your independent insurance agent about your home and any specific concerns you have about it. Together, the two of you will ensure that you get set up with adequate protection.
Great Homeowners Insurance Companies
Now that you know a bit more about where to go for homeowners insurance and what to look for, you might be interested in some of the top-rated, reputable homeowners insurance providers. These insurance companies have all received excellent ratings across multiple platforms last year.
- Allstate: Known for their wide range of discounts and being accessible to first-time homebuyers.
- Amica Mutual: Known for their quick claims processing and great customer service.
- Auto-Owners Insurance: Known for their financial strength ratings and unique coverage offerings.
- Erie Insurance: Known for their low rates and for offering replacement cost coverage for personal property.
- Farmers: Known for their extensive coverage options and for offering state-by-state policy customization.
- Metlife: Known for their guaranteed replacement cost coverage for personal property.
- USAA: Known for offering great coverage for the military and offering outstanding customer service in general.
Your independent insurance agent will help hook you up with a homeowners policy from a reputable insurance company. If you’re leaning towards one company in particular, be sure to mention that to your agent.
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Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin
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