As any homeowner can attest, houses require constant maintenance. The cost of home repairs, renovations and improvements can add up quickly.
If you are purchasing a new home or if your current home needs some refurbishing, you may be wondering whether any of your work can be covered by insurance policies and what sort of remodeling or home repair insurance is available.
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The Average Lifespans of Major Home Appliances
- Dishwashers and trash compactors usually last around 9 years.
- Gas stoves last about 15 years, while electric stoves last about 13 years.
- Refrigerator last about 13 years.
- Garbage disposals have an expected lifespan of 12 years.
- Hot water heaters need to be replaced about every 10 years.
- Air conditioning units have an average lifespan of 15 years.
- Washers and dryers usually work well for about 10 years.
What Is Home Repair Insurance?
Under certain circumstances, your regular homeowners insurance policy will provide coverage for necessary home repairs, but this is not always the case. For repairs and renovations that fall outside the scope of your homeowners insurance, you may be able to get additional coverage.
If you are buying a new home with plans to renovate, contact an independent insurance agent who can help you find a policy that will cover your repairs and upgrades.
Basically, the scope of home repair insurance can fall under these four categories:
- Home warranty insurance policies
- Home protection plans or home repair programs
- Utility line insurance
- Home repair contractors insurance
What Home Repairs Will My Homeowners Policy Cover?
There are many cases where your homeowners insurance will cover necessary repairs to your home. If your roof or gutters are damaged due to severe weather, or if a tree falls onto your home and damages windows and walls, your homeowners insurance will probably cover the repair costs.
If you simply wished to replace your roof or windows due to wear and tear, it would not. Similarly, if an indoor water pipe bursts and causes water damage, your homeowners insurance is likely to cover the repairs, but if your basement is flooded due to excessive rainfall, you will need to have a separate flood insurance policy to handle the repairs.
What Is a Home Warranty Insurance Policy?
You can buy home warranty insurance when you are buying a home. It is typically part of the sales contract and is often paid for by the seller or even the real estate company for the first year.
This insurance is designed to protect the buyer from defects in the home. Coverage typically lasts for the first year of home ownership and can often be renewed. Most home warranty plans include coverage for:
- Kitchen appliances, including the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and garbage disposal
- Wiring systems, including electrical, telephone and cable
- Plumbing, including indoor pipes, drains, faucets, sprinkler systems, pools and hot tubs
- Heating and cooling appliances, including the furnace, air conditioner, heat pump and hot water heater
- Other items such as ceiling fans, doorbells and garage door openers
Some home warranties require that you purchase additional coverage to include some items otherwise not covered. Be sure to read the terms of your home warranty carefully.
If any of the covered items break, you can call the insurance company and they will send someone to your house to attempt a repair. If the unit is irreparable, the company will cover replacement and installation costs.
Keep in mind that home warranties will not provide coverage for structural damage in the home, such as problems with the foundation, cracks in the walls, or a leaky roof.
Be sure to have a thorough home inspection done before finalizing the purchase of your home so that you are aware of any serious problems for which you will be responsible.
What Are Home Protection Plans and Home Repair Programs?
These programs are usually offered by home insurance companies to assist policyholders with the costs of repairing or replacing home appliances or components that are not covered by a homeowners policy.
They are similar in scope to home warranty insurance plans and can be purchased at any time. Costs for this coverage often depend on the current age of your home and appliances.
What Is Utility Insurance?
Many utility providers offer their customers the option to purchase insurance to cover utility delivery lines. This may include power lines to your house as well as gas, water and sewage pipes that are on your property but outside your home. It sometimes even includes plumbing issues in your home.
If an underground utility line is damaged and your yard or driveway has to be dug up for repairs, the cost can run more than $1,000 dollars and will not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy.
For this reason, the utility companies will allow you to pay an additional amount on your utility bill, often around $5, to provide coverage for such an instance. These costs vary by location and utility company.
What Is Contractors Insurance?
Contractors insurance is liability insurance that should be carried by any contractor that you hire to do work on your house. If a contractor is installing new shelves and accidentally drills into a pipe, causing water damage, the contractor insurance policy should provide coverage for the repair and all damage caused by the mishap.
Additionally, contractors insurance may include workers' compensation, so if any of the contractor’s employees are injured while working in your home, you will not need to worry about being held liable.
Always be certain that any contractors you hire to do work in your home carry liability insurance. You can do this by requesting the name and phone number of the contractor's insurance agent. You can call the insurance company and request a certificate of insurance for the contractor.
Can Home Repairs and Improvements Save Money?
Repairs, improvements and renovations to your home may cost a lot in the short term, but the long-term benefits can often outweigh these costs. In addition to making your home more livable, some updates may save you money on your monthly bills.
Replacing older appliances with newer, energy-efficient models can lower your utility costs, and some home repairs may even earn you a discount on your homeowners insurance policy.
Updates such as the installation of a burglar alarm or home sprinkler system, new doors and windows with secure locks, or even a new roof, may lead to discounts on your insurance policy.
After completing any home renovations, be sure to ask your insurance agent if the updates qualify you for a reduction in your premiums.
How Can I Determine If Home Repair Insurance Is Right for Me?
When deciding whether to purchase home repair insurance, you must weigh the pros and cons and try to determine whether the costs make sense based on the benefits and the peace of mind you will have.
If you require advice or assistance in determining what coverage you may need, you can speak with an independent insurance agent, an attorney, or a financial planner for more valuable advice.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
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Consumer reports 3/09