What Do I Need to Let my Agent Know about My Insurance?

What Changes to My Home Should I Let My Insurance Agent Know about?

(As your life changes, your insurance should, too.)

When a homeowners insurance policy is underwritten, all of the current features of your house and your personal needs are taken into account to help decide the proper coverage amounts, premium payments, and deductibles. This helps you arrive at predictable outcomes, whether you need to budget for the year or know whether your coverage is adequate for your home. 

But what happens over the years? What if you add a detached garage, a shed, a sauna, or any other extras to your property? What if your neighborhood home values go up? Would your coverage be enough to reimburse you in the event of losing your home due to a fire?

Let's talk all about how to maintain your homeowners insurance policy as you add on or make changes, as well as how your independent insurance agent is here to help you through it. 

Table of Contents

Q.  Why do I need to tell my agent about changes to my home?

Q.  When do I need to tell my agent about changes to my home?

Q.  What is covered in my general insurance policy?

Q.  What is not covered by insurance?

Q.  If I add a shed to my property, should I tell my agent?

Q.  If I add a trampoline or pool to my property should I tell my agent?

Q.  If I add a pool to my home should I tell my agent?

Q.  Do I need to notify my agent of home renovations?

Q.  How much does it cost to insure upgrades or changes to my home? 

Q.  How do I get the best coverage for specific home changes?

Q.  How to do I get discounts on insurance through home upgrades?

Q.  How often should I talk to my independent agent about my home policy?

Q.  What are some reasons that I might want to change my insurance policy?

Q.  What should I be aware of when changing my insurance policy?

Q.  How does an independent insurance agent help me maintain my policy?

Q. Why do I need to tell my agent about changes to my home?

Our insurance needs change as the circumstances in our lives change. This is why it’s important to conduct an annual insurance review with your agent. One of the main reasons to review your home policy is to become aware of any needs for changes that may affect your premiums, deductibles, and coverage. If you feel like your coverage is inadequate or excessive, working with an independent insurance agent can help you get it to that "just right" spot.

People often think you only need to change your coverage if you add amenities or extra buildings to your property, but it also applies to things you remove from your policy. What if there was a large barn or a shed on your property when you originally purchased the policy? You would most likely have had that included in your coverage. And if you to tear it down and make room for a fire pit or something else, you'll want that removed from your policy, or you may be paying for something you just don't need.

So regardless of the changes in your property, and your life in general, it's always in your best interest to stay in close contact with your local independent insurance agent.

Q. When do I need to tell my agent about changes to my home?

Before you make any changes, you need to tell your agent about your plans. This goes for nearly any change that you're looking to make, including additions, removals, and substitutions. You should contact your insurance agent when you have the following changes in your life, property, and other circumstances:

  • New occupants, like friends or family
  • Recent marriage or divorce/separation
  • New attached and unattached structures on the property
  • Changing laws in your county/state
  • Renting to a third party
  • New home-based business or currently storing business property at home
  • Value of the home increasing
  • Extensive renovations on the home,  such as new security systems or hardwood flooring
  • Acquiring expensive possessions, such as wedding rings, high-end electronics, and so forth
  • If you’ve purchased a second home

This is by no means an all-inclusive list. If you add something to your house or property that raises, or lowers, the value of your property, or adds an additional liability, give your agent a call. It's always better to be overly cautious than undercovered.

Q.  What is covered in my general insurance policy?

With the proper coverage, most upgrades and renovations you add to your home will be covered under your insurance policy, as long as you have the proper amount of coverage.  If you're making small upgrades to the inside of your home, like painting the walls, building shelving units, or redecorating a room, you don't need to notify your agent. The same goes if you decide to remodel the inside of an existing shed on your property. Should a fire come in and burn down your shed or the new bedroom you just decorated, your insurance will cover it. 

Q.  What is not covered in my general insurance policy?

While most changes will be covered by your insurance after they're completed, there are several factors throughout the process that may not be covered by your general policy, or incidents that could void your policy.

  • Building materials such as wood, paint and tools
  • Protection for contractors
  • If your home is unoccupied for 30 to 90 days
  • Renovating without the necessary permits
  • Large DIY renovations that require builders insurance

No matter how many upgrades or renovations you make to your home, there are certain incidents that are not covered by insurance. Usually, this is events like floods and earthquakes, which are typically not covered in a standard homeowners policy. If you live in an area prone to floods or earthquakes you'll want to speak with your independent agent about adding this insurance coverage to your policy. The last thing you want to do is build a brand-new shed on your property and have it wiped out by a flood and not have insurance cover you for the loss. 

Q. If I add a shed to my property should I tell my agent?

Yep. Your home insurance will often cover a shed that you add to your property, but in some cases, your carrier may require knowing about it. Maybe it's not just a shed for rakes, but closer to a barn in size, and an extra endorsement may be needed to cover it properly. 

It's important you ask yourself what you plan on keeping in your shed. Rakes and an old beater mower? You should be covered just fine. But what if your shed is used as a music studio getaway with a few expensive guitars stored in there for jam sessions. What if you've got a computer in there to record and mix music. In cases like this, we're starting to get into a territory where you'll want additional coverage from theft, flood damage, etc.

Q. If I add a trampoline to my property should I tell my agent?

Absolutely. An insurance policy is typically pages and pages of small print and fancy jargon that can be extremely confusing. And you may often be just fine setting up a big trampoline out back with a protective net and it's no problem. But what if you're not? Some carriers may not include coverage in their policies, which could really hurt you in the case of an accident. And what if your child has a friend come over who tumbles off the trampoline and gets hurt pretty badly? Medical bills? Yuck. Legal Fees? Get ready. Because they all add up pretty fast.

Stats on Trampoline Injuries:

Over a ten-year period:

  • Over $1 billion in medical bills
  • Over 1 million injuries

Numbers like that are a good reason for you to consider adding an umbrella policy to your portfolio. An umbrella policy will help extend your liability protection and handle any massive bills that can come with a liability claim. Your independent insurance agent will help walk you through all your options and answer any questions you may have.

Q. If I add a pool to my property should I tell my agent?

100% yes. A pool is considered an "attractive nuisance." It can help raise your home value and the enjoyment factor, but it can also lead to a lot of costly issues.

From a property perspective, your pool comes with a pretty substantial value, which makes protecting it very important. Whether it's vandals messing up your property or some kind of malfunction that causes massive damage to the structure, you want to make sure it's properly covered.

The biggest concern, however, may be the liability coverage you need to protect yourself if someone gets injured, or worse, while using the pool. Medical bills and legal fees in accidents like these are enough to wash away every drop of your savings, and then some. And that's just not worth it. 

Q.  Do I need to notify my agent of home renovations?

If you're planning on redoing your basement or remodeling the kitchen, you'll want to let your agent know before you even start the project. Home renovations add value to your home and sometimes require contractors and other outside help to be on your property. You'll speak with your agent to see if you need to update your homeowners insurance and if you need to obtain any additional insurance to protect you during the renovations. This would potentially include raising your liability insurance in case a third party is injured on your property, or even obtaining a builders risk policy if you're planning a larger renovation. Once your renovations are complete, your insurance agent can help determine if you need to purchase additional coverage for any new possessions or increase the overall insurance on your home. 

Q. How much does it cost to insure upgrades or changes to my home? 

This will vary greatly depending on the type of upgrade or renovation that you've made to your home. Insurance runs on a risk policy, so the riskier the product that's being insured, the more expensive the insurance. This means that you'll spend more money adding insurance coverage for a new pool than you will for adding an additional bathroom. However, home insurance also looks at the overall value of your home. If you complete a variety of renovations that increase the value of your home, you'll need to pay a higher premium to match. 

Here is a glimpse at how much you can expect to pay in insurance to cover common additions.

  • Swimming pool: Expect to add $50-$75 to your annual premium
  • Adding an office/business space: Expect to add up to $300 to your policy
  • Livable square footage: Up to a 20% increase in insurance cost
  • Kitchen or bathroom: Up to a 20% increase in insurance cost
  • Adding a deck: Expect an increase in order to cover the new property value that the deck adds

Q.  How do I get the best coverage for my specific home change?

If you're wondering if renovating or changing your home will mean you'll need to shop new insurance, it doesn't. You will want to work with your insurance agent to make sure that you're increasing the amount of insurance you have and that you're purchasing any additional coverage that may be needed. The easiest way to get the best coverage for any home changes is to work directly with your agent. They'll know what you need, like extra liability insurance if you put in a pool. or reevaluating other insurance needs  if you add a child to your family. 

Q.  How do I get discounts on insurance through home upgrades?

Often, upgrades you want to make to your home can also result in getting a discount on your insurance. You could receive anywhere from 5%-20% in discounts if you make upgrades that make your home safer. This includes:

  • Redoing the roof
  • Installing stronger doors
  • Installing smoke detectors
  • Adding a burglar system or alarm
  • Adding deadbolt locks
  • Installing a sprinkler system
  • Adding a remote monitoring station
  • Updating your heating and plumbing
  • Updating your electrical systems
  • Adding storm shutters or shatterproof glass

Q. How often should I talk to my independent agent about my home policy?

Insurance professionals always recommend that you do this every year. Time flies and your home value can shift up or down dramatically in that period. If your home is worth a lot more than your insurance policy has you covered for, you could wind up short when it comes to repairing and replacing certain portions, or the whole thing. If your home drops in value substantially, you may be paying for far too much coverage. And that's not good either.

A general rule of thumb beyond your annual check-in is that any time you make a dramatic change to your home, you should call your agent. If there's no need to change anything, the call will only last a couple of minutes and you can be on your way. But if you make a big change to your home and something bad happens, you could be in a lot of hot water financially, and your insurance carrier may even decide to cancel your coverage. Yikes. 

Q. What are some reasons that I might want to change my insurance policy?

There are a number of reasons you might find it necessary to change your insurance policy in order to help keep your coverage in line with your needs and your insurer. But there are also plenty of other occasions when policyholders may want to be proactive and change their insurance policy--or find a new insurer entirely, like:

Reasons to change:
Better PricingAnother policy offers lower premiums and/or deductibles while retaining coverage levels similar to previous policies. 
Better CoverageAs coverage needs increase, a policyholder may need a rider or an endorsement for something their current insurance provider doesn't offer. 
Better Customer ServiceIf a policyholder feels that they have a hard time getting in contact with a company or that the claims process was unreasonable, they may seek better coverage and customer support.
Eligibility for Discounts/Special OffersInsurance is a very competitive industry, so it’s not uncommon for other insurers to offer better-priced coverage, better discounts, and special offers that entice policyholders to make the switch.

By speaking with an independent insurance agent, you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of which types of policies are available for your current situation.

Q. What should I be aware of when changing my insurance policy?

Your homeowners insurance doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so there are some other things that can happen when you change your insurance policy:

  • Contact your mortgage lender if you have a home loan. Mortgage lenders typically require coverage limits within the remaining balance on the loan or the property value. Changing your policy should fall in line with these requirements. Also, you’ll want to contact your mortgage lender about any type of insurance change just to keep them in the loop. Otherwise, you may have to spend some time sorting out any actions a mortgage lender may take, such as the lender choosing an insurance policy to protect your investment (and making you pay for the premiums).
  • This also extends to any HOA that your house belongs to. Typically, an HOA has its own insurance requirements and may have it written in your contract that you must report any changes in insurance immediately.
  • Lastly, you'll want to speak with any other insurance companies that you have policies with. If you have a commercial insurance policy that covers your business, but you’ve reduced coverage for your homeowners policy, you may need to verify if your business property stored at home is still covered.

The best way to get a clear idea of you're responsibilities as an insured homeowner is to contact an independent Insurance agent today. These agents can help make sense of your responsibilities and the best practices you should follow to prevent any complications.

Q. How does an independent insurance agent help me maintain my policy?

Independent insurance agents are experts who aren't just sales professionals—they're consultants, assistants, and problem-solvers, too. With an independent insurance agent in your corner, you have a go-to who can help you get the right amount of coverage for the best possible price.

They're also a great resource when it comes to future planning. So if you're thinking of getting a pool, or building a second wing for your home, they can help walk you through what you can expect and guide you to the coverage you need.

Your independent insurance agent will connect with you on an annual basis to see what changes you've made and how they can help you get the most out of your protection.

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin

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https://www.allstate.com/tr/home-insurance/why-do-i-need-home-insurance.aspx

https://www.huffinsurance.com/blog/how-do-i-insure-a-house-that-i-own-and-let-my-family-live-in

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https://www.iii.org/article/10-questions-to-help-assess-your-changing-insurance-needs

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