What is in a homeowner’s insurance policy?
A homeowner’s insurance policy is actually a package of coverages. It is Broad Coverage insurance that includes two sections. Section one covers property, which includes the structure and personal property. Section two covers liability.
Structural (Dwelling) Coverage
Also called Coverage A, this coverage includes your home and structures attached to your home. Coverage A also includes materials and supplies for repair and construction of those structures if the supplies are located on your property. This coverage is typically based on the replacement cost of your home. Insurance companies have their own calculators which will determine what that amount is. Coverage B in this section covers structures that are on your property, but are separated from the main home (like a detached garage).
Personal Property Coverage
Coverage C is for personal property. These are the items inside your home. The cool thing about this coverage is that your property is covered not only while in your home, but also while you are using it anywhere in the world. If you request it, this coverage can also include property owned by others while they are using it in your home.
Most insurance policies come packaged with some “extras” such as coverage for jewelry, silver, tree and shrub removal/replacement. But, keep in mind, these coverages can have all different types of limits and limitations. Make sure you read your policy if you have something that you would be upset over losing. For instance, if your policy states you have $1,500 worth of jewelry coverage be sure that they also don’t have a cap for any one item such as $500/per item. What that means is they will cover multiple pieces of jewelry lost under a covered peril up to $1,500 but not more than $500 per item lost. This is why it is important to understand your coverages. If you don’t know, ask your agent!
You face exposure to liability throughout your life. For example, a homeowner may be held liable when a visitor slips and falls on an icy sidewalk or a dead tree falls on and crushes a neighbor’s car. An individual can be held liable for the actions of his children such as when a six-year-old breaks all the windows in a neighbor’s garage or the family dog bites the mail carrier. Finally, an individual may be held liable for damages arising out of personal activities away from the home, such as when an individual opens an umbrella in the crowded stands at a football game and accidentally pokes it in the eye of another sports fan. Depending on the circumstances, your insurance company would provide liability coverage.
This coverage is included in any standard homeowner’s policy. In a nutshell, personal liability covers damages that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay because of bodily injury or property damage caused by an occurrence to which the coverage applies. The standard liability limit for any one occurrence is $100,000, but we recommend you carry a higher limit of up to $300,000 to ensure you are covered in the event of a catastrophic loss.
This is our favorite coverage! Most people have no idea what it is or if they have it. Everyone has it, and this is very important coverage to understand. This covers any injuries sustained NO MATTER WHO IS AT FAULT. The insurance company will pay up to the amount of coverage you have. We typically offer $5,000 in coverage but this can be increased or decreased based on your decision.
Water/Sewer Drain Backup Coverage
A standard homeowner’s insurance policy excludes coverage for any water damage that occurs due to sewers that backup or for sumps that stop working unexpectedly. The backup of sewer and drains as well as the failure of a sump pump is excluded. If you sustain damage from either of these problems you will not be covered and you’ll be responsible to pay for the loss and the cleanup.
If you have a finished basement, you should seriously consider carrying this coverage. Be sure to ask your agent about this coverage to make sure you already have it on your policy or to purchase it. This coverage can often be purchased as an endorsement or with an endorsement that can increase the other coverages on the policy. The additional cost is minimal compared to the alternative and well worth the peace of mind it will provide.
An additional endorsement you can add to your typical homeowner’s policy is earthquake insurance. It is a form of property insurance that pays the howeowner in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property.
Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible, which makes this type of insurance useful if the entire home is destroyed, but not useful if the home is merely damaged. Most insurance companies have gone to a percentage based deductible versus a more traditional flat fee deductible. That makes the homeowner responsible for the first portion of the overall damage.
Rates are dependent on the home’s location and the probability of an earthquake. Rates may be cheaper for homes made of wood, which withstand earthquakes better than homes made of brick.
Acceptable Dog Breeds
Did you know you can be outright denied from some insurance companies because of your family pet? Yep, it’s true. Many insurance companies are now have a list of prohibited breeds of dogs or dogs with bite history. Failure to disclose the bite history could result in a claim not being covered and a cancelled insurance policy. Many times the excluded lists are comprised of large dogs and/or breeds that have been known to show aggressive tendencies regardless of motive. Check with your agent if you recently purchased or adopted an animal.
Trampolines can be deadly! They can also be fun. However, in an insurance companies eyes they are a risk and most companies state they must have a net that encases the trampolines edges. If your trampoline doesn’t have the safety net be sure to check with your agent as this could be a source of a claim being denied. If you just purchased a trampoline make sure you notify your agent so coverage can be adjusted. Some insurance companies don’t allow for trampolines to be on the premises at all with or without the safety net.