Hey, Homeowner! You Should Review Your Home Insurance Now Did you know that one 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 (such as this one from the National Association of REALTORS) 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.
Moving. It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times. But for better or worse, the average American will change homes 11.4 times during his or her lifetime. Amid the excitement and stress, it’s easy forget that moving will affect your home and auto insurance. You want to be prepared. Changes to Your Home Insurance When you realize a move is in your future, turn to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent for help. Here are a few subjects you’ll want to discuss: • Your current home. If you’ve accepted an offer to sell, remember that a fire, windstorm or other damage could easily delay closing or even cancel the sale. Your agent will assist in making sure the insurance coverage lasts until the ownership change is formalized. • If you’ll still own your current home while living elsewhere, your agent needs to know immediately. Failure to inform the insurance company that a home is no longer owner occupied can significantly affect or even eliminate coverage on it. • Can you keep the same agent and insurance company? Your current agent and insurance provider may be able write the policy on your new home, transfer any credits you’ve qualified for and apply any premium you’ve already paid. But if your current agent or provider doesn’t operate in the area where you’re moving, your Trusted Choice agent can help you find a new agent and provider. • New neighborhood. New rules? Your Trusted Choice independent agent can also offer information about differences in insurance rules between one location and another. For example, your new home may be in a designated flood zone and require flood insurance or be in an area where policies include a separate deductible for windstorms. • What about personal property? Our stuff is important! Whether you own or rent your current and new home, talk with your agent about how coverage will apply: 1. If your property is damaged while it is being packed or is in storage or transit. 2. If your property is damaged while it is being unpacked at your new place or after it has been moved. If you need more coverage, your agent will help you explore options. Also, if you are hiring professional movers, remember that they are required by federal law to provide at least a basic level of liability insurance with additional insurance available for purchase. Changes to Your Auto Insurance You may be moving, but chances are you’re not changing cars at the same time. Even so, it’s still essential to contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent. Here are a few reasons why: • Your risk exposure could change. This can happen even if you move just across town or to a different city in your own state. For example, your exposure will change if you are moving from a rural area to a higher-traffic area, or if your new home is further away from your work, increasing the total number of miles you normally drive. • You may qualify for new discounts or (eek, we’re sorry!) lose ones you currently have. For example, if you rent your current home but are buying your new one, you may now qualify for a homeownership discount. • New state? New laws. If you move to a new state, you’ll need a new policy because auto insurance is regulated by state law. Note that, as was the case with your home insurance, your current agent and insurance provider may not operate in your new location. Ask your current Trusted Choice agent for help in finding a new one. Make New Memories It’s important time to evaluate the insurance on your home, stuff and autos whenever you move. It’s also the perfect time to take inventory, including photos and video, of your possessions. That inventory is key to accurately insuring the things you treasure. Happy moving! Enjoy making your new house or apartment into a home. And remember, you can rely on your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to help you along your way.