Inside Info On Insurance

Dated: 06/18/2015

Views: 885

Just as there are different home styles, insurers offer a menu of different policies. For the majority of single-family homeowners, the most appropriate policy is the HO-3, sometimes called the special policy. It insures all major perils, except flood, earthquake, war and nuclear accident. You'll need deep coverage, up to and including 100% of your home's replacement cost. By insuring at, say, 90%, you're making the reasonable bet that your home won't ever be a complete loss. That may be a reasonable bet but if you want to play it safe, insure at 100%. Insurers generally cover a home's contents up to between 50% and 75% of the home's value. Make a list of your home's contents for a more exact estimate of your needs. That also provides a written record that's useful when you file a claim. You'll also have to pick a deductible, which is the amount you pay before the insurance kicks in. The higher you go, the more you'll save.

Guaranteed replacement cost Traditional guaranteed replacement cost coverage promises to pay whatever it takes to rebuild your home, even if it costs more than the original limits you purchased. That's crucial in the event that labor and building costs balloon after a major disaster. In many states, large insurers now cap the guarantee at 120% to 125% of purchased limits. Your safest bet is to seek a company with no cap. However, if you've properly valued your home's replacement cost, the caps shouldn't scare you. It's unlikely that building and labor costs will go up to more than 120% of your home's insured value. If it's not built into your policy, ask for replacement cost coverage for your home's contents. Without it, you'll end up with just the depreciated value of any object that's damaged or stolen.

Inflation guard This option annually increases your premium at the rate of local building-cost inflation.

Ordinance-and-law coverage This rider, which covers the costs of bringing your home into compliance with current building codes, is a must if your home is more than a few years old.

Limit your liability Your homeowners policy protects against lawsuits for accidents that happen on your property. It also covers you if your dog bites someone. You might also consider umbrella liability coverage, which is additional coverage over and above your regular homeowners liability limits.

Displacement Your homeowners policy also provides for living expenses if you're displaced; replacement of structures such as garages and sheds; and limited medical coverage for someone injured on your property. Don't buy more than the minimum offered.

Floods Floods aren't covered by ordinary homeowners insurance. Flood insurance is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In California, you may need earthquake coverage; check with the California Earthquake Authority.

Riders for valuables A standard policy provides only minimal coverage for antiques, collectibles, furs, silver, jewels, cameras, computers, musical instruments, and firearms. For these, you need separate coverage.

CNN Money May 29, 2015

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Kathleen Argiroff

Kathleen relocated to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her husband and three children in 1989 from the Philadelphia and Stone Harbor, NJ areas. One of her greatest pleasures is introducing peopl....

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