Hey, Homeowner! You Should Review Your Home Insurance Now.

homeowners-insurance

Did you know that 1 in 15 insured homes has a claim each year?

Yes, according to the Insurance Information Institute, it’s only a matter of time before it’s your turn to file a home insurance claim. Wind, hail, water damage, freezing, theft, fire and lightning are just a few of the common culprits. Now tack on the probability of a liability claim or lawsuit being filed against you or a family member, and the likelihood of your home insurance staying on the bench forever is slim.

Following is our handy checklist of to be sure your homeowners insurance policy adequately protects you. Review these with your family and your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent before you are the one with a claim.

  1. Know the difference between reconstruction cost and replacement cost. Your home’s reconstruction cost and its market value can vary significantly, especially if your home is older. Reconstruction cost is what it would cost to replace your house by rebuilding it completely at current prices. Market value is what someone is willing to pay for your home including the lot. The limit of insurance carried on your home should be based on its reconstruction cost.
  2. Check your limits at least annually. It’s estimated that 60% of homes are underinsured, most by at least 20%. Underinsured means exactly what you think it means: You will not be a happy camper if your home suffers major damage and must be reconstructed.
  3. Don’t forget about your possessions. Ensure that your personal property is covered on a replacement instead of actual cash value basis. Don’t underestimate how much you’ll miss that brand-spanking new couch, closet full of clothing or bicycle after they’re reduced to a charred mess by a fire!
  4. Improve your insurance if you improve your home. It’s estimated that Americans spend more than $200 billion on home improvements each year. To avoid underinsurance, make sure your home insurer knows about that kitchen or bathroom remodel or the new deck you just added.
  5. Take inventory. A digital inventory of your home will be your very best friend at claim time, and it will make your insurance adjuster happy, too. There are many resources available online to create a home inventory. We can’t overstate the importance of this one.
  6. Buy flood insurance. Flood damage is not covered by your home insurance policy. Repeat: If your home is flooded, your homeowners insurance will not cover the damage. You need flood insurance.
  7. Insure for the cost of required building code upgrades (such as upgraded electrical wiring) by verifying your policy’s ordinance or law coverage.
  8. Insure your “other structures.” Your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can help you determine what other structures you own and ensure your coverage for them is adequate.
  9. Install a home security system, and tell your insurer about it. A home security system doesn’t have to cost a fortune: According to HomeAdvisor, the average system costs just under $700. Many systems qualify for a homeowners insurance rate credit and will save you a few bucks …bonus!
  10. Know your deductible, especially if it varies based on the type of damage. For example, your policy may have a $500 deductible for most losses but a much higher deductible for wind damage.
  11. You can raise your deductibles and save money. This is a tried and true way to cut the cost of your insurance, but only do it if you can handle the cost of the higher deductible.
  12. If it has a motor and a driver’s seat, ensure it separately. Why? Because coverage is probably limited in your home insurance policy. Talk to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent about adequately insuring motorized vehicles — such as a riding mower, go-cart, golf cart, personal watercraft or even grandma’s mobility scooter.
  13. Check your limits of liability. Statistically, most home insurance claims are for property damage, but a liability claim can quickly ruin your family’s financial future. For example, a liability claim could result if a person is injured in your home. A basic liability limit (such as $300,000) is often easily increased to $1 million or more for little money.
  14. Review your personal umbrella insurance policy to ensure it will kick in if your home insurance policy is wiped out by a liability claim or won’t pay enough due to limited coverage. Wait … you don’t have a personal umbrella policy? Get one.
  15. Your home-based business is your home insurer’s business. Run a business out of your home?Are you one of the millions of Americans who are self-employed? Are you unsure if your business activities are covered by an insurance policy? Share this info with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to identify limitations in your home insurance policy for business-related claims.
  16. Renting your home? Tell your insurer. Companies like Airbnb have caused an explosion in home rentals. Listing yours might net you some good hard cash, but payment for claims that occur during the rental may be limited by your insurer.

Be ready at claim time!

Bad things can and will happen. Reviewing your home insurance policy today with your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can help ensure you’ll be ready when it’s your turn.

 

Trusted Choice®
Article: Checklist for Home Insurance

Spring Storm Questions and Answers

spring storm

Does my homeowners policy cover flood damage?

Most policies cover damage from falling water or rain blown by the wind, but not from rising water or flooding. In most cases you must have an additional flood policy to cover damage from rising water or flooding.

What should folks who’ve had damage from a windstorm do first?

-Contact your insurance agent as quickly as possible and ask for instructions on what to do until your adjuster arrives. You can reach us at 252-368-4017.
-Begin preparing an inventory of personal property damaged or destroyed and take pictures of the damaged property.
-Protect your property from further damage. Your reasonable expenses to protect your property are part of the loss and are generally reimbursed by insurance companies. Keep all receipts.
-Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.

What if your home is too damaged to live in?

If necessary, rent temporary shelter. If your home is uninhabitable because of physical damage, most homeowners’ policies will pay additional living expenses while your property is being repaired. Lack of power or water is not considered physical damage and, therefore, additional living expenses will not be covered. Before renting temporary shelter, check with your insurance company or agent to determine what expenses will be reimbursed.

What about damage from fallen trees, is that covered?

-Damage to your home from fallen trees is covered under most homeowners’ policies. Most companies will pay to have trees removed from the damaged structure, such as your home, garage or fence, as well as off the residence.
-The policy does not cover the removal of trees unless the tree damaged a covered property.
-Damage to your parked vehicle from a fallen tree is covered under your comprehensive automobile insurance.

Many people lost a lot of food which spoiled when the power went out. Is that covered?

-Most homeowners’ policies cover food which spoils due to power loss only if the individual feeder line to your home is down, not in instances of widespread power failure.
-However, you can be covered in the event of widespread power failure if you purchased a “Refrigerated Property Coverage” endorsement. This endorsement allows up to $500 in coverage with a $100 deductible.

What should people do if they can’t reach their agent?

The NC Department Of Insurance has claims phone numbers for the major insurers in NC.  Call 855-408-1212 (toll free) for these numbers.

 

http://www.ncdoi.com/Consumer/Consumer_Disaster_Spring_Storms.aspx