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7 Things no one told you about homeowners insurance

Ahh... you're a homeowner. Whether you are new homeowner or have been rooted for years, there is so much responsibility that comes with owning a home. From the never-ending stream of projects, fun surprises and do-to lists, to expenses and protection. You've purchased your homeowners insurance policy and promptly forgot about it, until renewal time. But in some cases, you might be underinsured, even over insured or possibly missing out on additional discounts that could apply.

Buying decor for your home online is pretty easy and convenient. I know this as fact because I really really like on line shopping (may be borderline addiction.. or at least that's what my kids say until they realize it'd for them). However, home insurance or insurance in general is a bit more complicated then clicking "add to cart". You really should have an agent in your corner to help you navigate the ins and outs so you are insured correctly. Here are 7 tips that you should think about when becoming a homeowner.

  1. It's a great idea to start with an independent agent. Why, you ask? Probably the biggest plus to using an independent is that wide variety of products we can offer you. Your needs might not fit with one company. As independents, we have access to numerous companies and can tailor a policy to fit your needs instead of you adjusting your needs to fit the policy. Another perk? At renewal time, we reevaluate your coverage and make sure that fit still works with your lifestyle, changes or growth. If it's no longer a good fit, we're going to search for another company/product that is.

  2. Your homeowners policy might not cover water damage. What?!? I know, it's a scary thought. And it can be a devastating loss if there is no coverage in place. Most policies actually exclude flooding/water damage. Water damage that starts inside your home, like a leaky dishwasher hose causing damage to floor or from a storm created opening is probably covered under your standard homeowners policy. However, broken water mains, floodwater, heavy rains causing water to pool around your home and leak in...usually excluded.

  3. Your policy has exclusions and special limits - do you know what they are? Or maybe even more importantly, do you know how they might affect you? It's very easy to purchase and then forget about your insurance. But every policy has exclusions, such as floods like I mentioned above, or earthquakes, weight from ice/snow. There might also be limits on coverage such as jewelry, guns, watercraft or trailers on your property. The best way to know what these are and how they might affect you in the event of a loss is to talk to your agent. We can break it all down for you and make sure you have no gaps in coverage.

  4. You have to let your agent know when there are changes or updates to your home. Believe it or not, as great as we are as your agent, we don't know if you built a new pole shed, updated wiring, added an addition on or replaced your roof if you don't tell us. And if you forget to tell us, guess what? You now have a gap in coverage. You could also be missing out on potential discounts for certain updates. It's imperative that you communicate with your agent throughout the life of your homeowners insurance policy. Otherwise, you might be surprised what you don't have coverage on when a loss happens.

  5. Keep a personal home inventory log. In the event of a devastating loss, the last thing you are thinking about is what you had. How many pictures were hanging in your livingroom? Did you have silk sheets or cotton? How many pots and pans did you actually have? How many pairs of shoes were in your closet? These are not things you are going to remember when faced with a complete loss. As your independent agent, we have what we call a personal property inventory booklet (available on on our website) that we like to provide homeowners. It separates each room and you can log your items. Along with pictures of each room, this has proved invaluable in the event of losses. It helps jog your memory when trying to enter a claim on your personal property. These are things you want to keep updated as your household begins to grown and you accumulate more items.

  6. Your coverage amount is most likely NOT the same amount as the market value on your home. There is huge misconception that your homeowners insurance coverage amount is the same as what you paid for your home. That is completely inaccurate. As a matter of fact, there are times your replacement cost value is more than double what your market value is. If your home needs to be rebuilt, we would need to pay out what it costs to rebuild that home at today's costs - including labor and material costs. those costs alone are going to vary widely from the time you purchased your home. Also, included in that value are things like debris removal. You would have to remove the remnants of the destroyed home to make room for the new to be built. That's not a cost that's built into your market value.

  7. Cheapest is not always best. This is really true about everything in life. The saying "You get what you pay for" really has some truth to it. Say you go on line and purchase a homeowners policy for $300 less that a quote provided by your independent agent. Did you question why? Are the coverages different? More? Is your personal property covered at replacement cost or actual cash value? Did the cheaper one offer additional discounts on your auto or umbrella policies? Are you really covered? A few things to think about while you are on line shopping for insurance - is the insurance carrier financially sound? Are they going to be able to pay out in the event of a claim? How is their claims service? Are they a stable company? Are they local or across the pond? We all want to save money, that's just human fact. But are you willing to sacrifice your home to save?

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