Homeowners insurance (HOI) as the name implies, is property insurance coverage that not only protects you from the damage or loss of your property, but also provides liability protection for you, your family and guests, should an accident occur. If you own a home, you need home insurance. Not only does home insurance protect what’s most likely your largest asset, but it’s required by lenders when financing a home, making it one of the most necessary and abundant forms of insurance available today.
Homeowners insurance, in it’s essential form, covers the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home, replacement or reimbursement of personal property, and liability or legal responsibility for injury to other people caused by you or your family members. Home insurance provides protection from most disasters, such as fire. The two exceptions include floods and earthquakes. Additional coverage must be purchased when insuring against these natural disasters.
Types of Home Owner Insurance
Home insurance comes in a number of standardized forms. These forms were designed to eliminate the burden of purchasing several separate policies such as fire, theft, liability, and so on. The HO-3, sometimes called the “special policy” is the most commonly utilized form of homeowners insurance, as it provides comprehensive coverage. The standardized forms are covered below:
HO-1 is a very basic policy, which covers specific risks outlined in the home insurance policy. Thesemight include such risks as fire or lightening, hail, explosion, vandalism, theft, and more. This is not inclusive of personal property.
HO-2 includes coverage of HO-1, but adds additional coverage for specific perils. These perils arenamed in the policy, but commonly include plumbing and heating issues. This is not inclusive of personal property.
HO-3 is the most common form of homeowners insurance, as it’s designed as a blanket policy,covering most common issues. The protection of structure, personal property, and liability are all included. It is important for you to read your policy, however, as there are often exclusions. Common exclusions are flood, earthquake, and nuclear.
HO-4 is renters insurance designed for those renting a home or an apartment. Renters insurance policies will cover issues not outlined in the property owner’s policy. The tenant receives liability and personal property protection.
HO-5 is essentially a more comprehensive HO-3 home insurance policy.
HO-6 is condo insurance. This covers issues that aren’t covered by the condominium/homeowners association policy. Much like renters insurance, it provides personal liability insurance for residents and guests, as well.
HO-8 is an “older home” policy. This allows homeowners to insure older homes at lower rates. Rather than insuring the higher replacement costs associated with replacing an older home to its originality, you’re insuring for cheaper, more readily available, materials.
How Much Home Insurance?
You should insure your home for the total cost that it would take to replace it completely. This amount would be the cost to rebuild your home, if it was totally destroyed. When determining this value you should factor the quality of construction, custom features, square footage, and any other factors affecting value. Remember that you’re insuring your home, not the land it’s built on. So, don’t forget to subtract the value of the land, as the land will always be there, regardless of disaster. Also, if your home is destroyed, where are you going to go? You’ll need coverage for additional living expenses, like relocation.
Purchase a guaranteed replacement homeowners policy. This will insure thatyour house is rebuilt to replacement quality, regardless of rising construction or material costs. This is important, as material shortages are common after major disaster. It’s not at all uncommon for home insurance companies to cap these guarantees, limiting their risk exposure.
If you live in an area prone to flood, it’s important to get flood insurance coverage. Most homeowners insurance policies don’t include flood damage protection. Flood protection can be purchased through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Similarly, if you live in earthquake prone California, the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) provides earthquake insurance coverage.
Don’t forget your home’s content. Most home insurance policies providevminimal personal property protection. If you have items of value that you’d like protected, this will most often require an additional rider. These additional home insurance riders are purchased to protect expensive jewelry, art, antiques, collectibles, and other items of sentimental or economic value.
What Determines Home Insurance Rates?
For obvious reasons, location plays a large role in determining your home insurance rates. Certain high-risk areas prone to storm or disaster will always come at higher rates, due to the higher claims associated with those areas. What you might not know is that your sex, age, and marital status are all contributing factors when your home owner insurance rates are determined.
Your credit score also plays a role in how much you’ll pay. There is a direct statistical correlation between low credit scores and high home insurance claims. Basing your rates on sex, age, marital status, or even your credit score may seem discriminatory, though that’s not the insurance company’s objective. These demographics allow the home insurance company to balance the statistical risks from an actuarial standpoint.
How to Save on Homeowners Insurance
You may not be able to change your demographics, but there are other ways you can save on your homeowners insurance policy. Combining your insurance coverage has become a popular way to save on insurance premiums. Some insurers will cut your rates as much as 20 percent by simply combining your home and auto insurance policies. And just like raising your auto insurance deductible, raising your homeowners deductible can help with the affordability of your policy. Certain safety equipment, such as a monitored home alarm, might provide for additional reductions. If you fall in the bad credit category, it will pay in more ways than one to repair credit. Be sure to check your credit record regularly to catch or correct any errors. Keeping little or preferably no revolving credit card debt will not only help with your credit score, but benefit your home insurance rates too.
Getting a Home Insurance Quote
When getting a home insurance quote, it’s important to go with a quality company, one that will be around when needed. Going with a fly-by-night company might provide cheap home insurance, but you’ll often pay in the end, through poor service or when making a claim. Insurance companies are rated by financial strength rating services, such as Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s. It’s always prudent to look into any home insurance company you plan to rely on. One of the best ways to save, when it comes to choosing the best homeowners insurance policy, is to get a multiple home insurance quote from a handful of quality insurers. Thanks to the internet, it’s relatively easy to get a homeowners insurance quote online that compares several reputable carriers. This will allow you to go with the quality your looking for, but at a great rate.