Dont Assume Youre Covered For Natural Disasters
Floods are not the only disaster commonly excluded from a standard home insurance policy. If you live in a disaster-prone area, you might need to bolster your home insurance with endorsements or additional policies to ensure youre fully covered.
For example, you may need to augment your hurricane insurance plan with a separate windstorm policy in some coastal areas. Or if you live in an area with seismic activity, you may want an earthquake insurance policy.
Before you buy another policy or add an endorsement to your home insurance, its a good idea to speak with your insurance agent in order to understand the options. Insurance for natural disasters can have complex limits , exclusions and high deductibles.
Can Insurance Companies Enter Your House Or Examine Your Car
If youre looking to purchase or renew a home insurance policy, or need to file a home or car insuranceclaim, a personal visit from your insurance company could be in your future.
Its quite common for an insurance company to inspect a property before issuing a policy or while processing a claim, says Michelle Rupp, spokesperson for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.
If you crashed your vehicle, car insurance companies may also want to visit you or the scene of the crash before paying your claim. This is especially the case if your car has sustained a lot of damage or looks like it might be totaled.
In many cases, a physical inspection is the best way to assess the amount of damage, says Rupp. Its for everyones benefit because it ensures youre paid for all the eligible damage sustained.
But that doesnt mean your insurance company can show up on your doorstep any time.
Typical Homeowner Insurance Forms
An insurance form is another name for an insurance policy, and it sets forth your coverage and identifies which perils your home and belongings are insured against.
The following are descriptions of the various insurance forms available for homeowners, renters, and condominium owners. Not all insurers use these exact terms or form numbers to describe their home insurance forms however the coverage will be similar.
Homeowner Insurance: Most of the standard homeowners insurance forms offered are HO-2 and HO-3. The more perils your policy covers, the more you will pay for your policy. Most companies have their own variations of these forms, so check with the individual company.
Mobile Home Insurance: There is a specific policy that is available for mobile homes since there are generally no attached structures. It is a package of insurance written specifically for mobile homes that includes coverage on the mobile home as well as theft and liability protection.
Renters Insurance: If you rent an apartment or a house, you still have an exposure to personal liability coverage and are responsible for insuring against damages to your personal belongings. Personal liability coverage protects renters the same as it would if you were a homeowner. The owner of the building is responsible for insuring the building and for obtaining business liability insurance.
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Other Types Of Home Checks
Something else to keep in mind is that the away from home is only one type of home check the insurance company may require. They may also insist on a home inspection before they will agree to insure. They can also require periodic home checks by their inspection experts to determine different factors that could be affecting the home insurance.
Once The Inspector Leaves: Whats Next
The inspector will go back to their office. They will work on the calculation of reconstruction of your home. In addition, they will prepare any photos they took that are relevant, and they will write out a list of recommendations for the insurance company to review.
The insurance company will then receive a copy of the inspection. They review it themselves and decide if they agree with the recommendations . They make sure the insurance policy you have is in line with the information collected during the inspection.
After the insurance company reviews all of the above, they will forward a copy to your broker or insurance representative. They will be advised what, if anything, needs to be done. The insurance broker is your representative. They will then relay to you what needs to be done, if anything, and the results of the inspection.
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The Types Of Home Insurance Coverage
Coverage refers to the maximum amount your insurer will pay if you make a claim for a covered loss.
You may consider a combination of these two types of coverage:
Coverage for Personal property
This type of coverage protects you from the loss or damage of your home, belongings, and your vehicle.
To know how much coverage you need, you must make a list of all your possessions to figure out the cost to replace each one.
List down the make and model of each item and their serial numbers, if applicable. Keep any receipts and photographs for your records.
This information will come in handy if you should file a claim for loss or damage in the future.
Coverage for liability
This type of coverage offers protection from legal liability for injury to others and damage to other peoples properties.
You should carefully read the policy to understand what it does and does not cover. For questions, always make sure to check with your insurance broker.
Buy Coverage That Absorbs A Spike In Home Repair Costs
The dwelling coverage within a home insurance policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if its damaged by a problem covered by the policy, like a house fire.
Your dwelling coverage amount should be based on what it would cost to rebuild your home based on the local construction and labor costs. But certain situations, like a tornado that flattens entire neighborhoods, can cause a spike in rebuilding costs. Suddenly your dwelling coverage amount could be insufficient.
Fortunately, some insurers offer home insurance with extended or guaranteed replacement cost. These optional coverage types absorb a spike in construction costs by adding extra coverage to your dwelling insurance limits when needed.
Companies that offer extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage include AIG, Auto-Owners, Chubb, Cincinnati, Erie, Farmers, Hanover, Lemonade, Nationwide and QBE.
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Do I Need Homeowners Insurance
Homeowners insurance isn’t legally required at the state or federal level. However, if you have a mortgage, your mortgage lender will require you have home insurance coverage for financial protection for them and you in case something happens.
While homeowners or property insurance isn’t required legally, you may want it even if you own your home. Policyholders have financial protection, personal liability coverage and covered loss offered through home insurance. Those things add up to safety and security on your property. As the old saying goes, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
What Happens If My House Fails The Home Inspection
If you fail a home inspection, do not worry, it is still possible for you to obtain a homeowners insurance policy. In some cases, an insurer may issue a policy that stipulates you must make certain repairs within a set time frame . For example, if your roof is damaged and in need of dire repair, your homeowners insurance provider might require you to have it replaced within a certain period of time in order to keep your policy in effect.
Some homes are simply too old for standard home insurance companies to insure. When this happens, you may have better luck finding coverage through companies that specialize in insuring high-risk properties. Insurance carriers in the excess and surplus markets are able to take on more risk than a standard carrier whose policies are financially backed by the states insurance department, making it easier for you to obtain coverage for higher-risk properties.
In some cases, you still might not be able to find coverage through the surplus market. If thats the case, you may be able to get insured through your states FAIR Plan. The Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan is available in certain high-risk areas in your state where private home insurance coverage isnt available. These plans are more expensive than those offered through the voluntary market and are intended as a last-resort for homeowners that are unable to obtain coverage through traditional means.
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Types Of Home Insurance Coverage
Coverage is the maximum amount of money your insurance company will pay you if you make a claim for a loss or an event covered by your policy.
For home insurance, you may need a combination of two types of coverage.
Personal property coverage
Personal property coverage protects you from loss or damage to:
- your home or personal possessions
- your car
To figure out how much coverage you need, make a list of all your possessions with the following information:
- cost to replace the item
- make and model of the item
- serial numbers
This could be useful should you need to make an insurance claim in the future.
Liability coverage protects you against legal liability for losses caused by:
- injury to other people
- damage to the property of others
Read the policy carefully before signing. Make sure you understand what your policy does and does not cover.
Ask your insurance agent or broker about anything you don’t understand.
Can My Home Insurance Rate Change After An Inspection
Your rate may change after insurance inspection results are evaluated. You may see an increase in your rate if your insurer discovers additional liabilities that weren’t considered in the initial policy, home characteristics that differ from those listed on the application, or if the replacement value is higher than initially anticipated. On the other hand, if you made home improvements such as replacing a roof, your insurer may lower your rate.
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You Have A Right To Refuse A Visit From Your Insurance Company
In most cases, you have a legal right to refuse an inspection from your insurance company, Simeone says. However, it may not always be in your best interest to refuse.
Denying the inspection request means youll probably have to deal with an expensive fallout, Simeone says. If you refuse, your insurance company will probably deny the claim. So you wont be able to benefit from all the coverage youve paid for during the life of the policy.
At the very least, refusing an inspection will delay the processing of your claim. That means you could be left with a damaged car or needed home repairs longer than expected.
If you deny an insurance company a pre-policy inspection, you could be facing a similar fate, Rupp says.
The insurance company will probably not write the policy, she adds.
While you have a right to refuse a visit onto your private property, into your garage or into your home, you cant stop your insurance company from conducting a visual inspection from public property, Simeone says.
You have no right to privacy to anything visible from public areas like streets, sidewalks, etc. So, if the insurance company adjuster drives by your home and can see your damaged roof, or the trampoline you said you dont have, he or she can photograph it without violating any laws, he explains.
Lets Keep Your Insurance
Once you have your policy, in many states your insurance company only has 60 days to cancel it. After that, it becomes much harder for them and there are only a few circumstances where they are allowed to cancel your policy, including missing payments, fraud, or if your house suddenly becomes too expensive to insure. But insurers can refuse to renew a policy for many reasons.
There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your policy is renewed, year after year.
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Plan Ahead For Renovation
If you plan to build an addition or adjacent structure to your home, consider the materials that will be used. Typically, wood-framed structures will cost more to insure because they are highly flammable. Conversely, cement- or steel-framed structures will cost less because these are less likely to succumb to fire or adverse weather conditions.
Another thing most homeowners should, but often don’t, consider are the insurance costs associated with building a swimming pool. In fact, items such as pools and/or other potentially injurious devices can drive the annual insurance costs up by 10% or more.
Make Sure The Insurance Company Acts Promptly
Fortunately, insurance companies are required to handle claims in a timely manner. In California, for example, they must send you a “notice of intentions” within 30 days of receiving your claim. If there’s no dispute over your coverage, you’re entitled to payment within that time, too.
If you haven’t heard from your company and you feel that it’s unnecessarily dragging its heels, write to it . Insurance companies are less likely to string you along when they’re in the midst of a disaster and know that all eyes are on them.
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Can I Get Home Insurance If My House Fails An Inspection
If you own a house that has failed a home inspection, you might not be approved for a homeowners insurance policy until you fix the problems. Alternatively, you might receive a policy that stipulates that certain repairs must be made within a limited time for your policy to remain valid.
A house might fail a 4-point inspection for defects such as leaking pipes or a damaged roof that’s not structurally sound. If you’re not interested in making the repairs yourself, perhaps in return for a reduced sale price, you can negotiate with the current owner to fix the issues.
If your home doesn’t qualify for a homeowners insurance policy because renovations are required, you still have one insurance option. A surplus lines policy, also known as builder’s risk insurance or vacant property insurance, is specifically for property that’s under construction, and for risks that are not covered by standard insurance carriers. While this form of insurance is typically more expensive than a normal insurance policy, it may provide necessary coverage while you renovate your home.
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the authors opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
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Home Insurance Inspection: How To Prepare
As a homeowner, you likely know every nook and cranny of your home pretty well. And while your insurance policy application may have seemed comprehensive enough, many insurance providers will want to get to know your home on a more personal level. Before approving coverage, youll likely have to undergo a home insurance inspection to give your provider peace of mind before offering your home protection from risks like theft, injury and natural disasters.
To speed up the process when buying home insurance, look for companies that are taking advantage of modern technology to expedite the process. Here at Hippo, for example, we use data to help verify the value and condition of some items in advance to save you time. But no matter which company you choose, heres what to expect in a home insurance inspection.
Medical Payments To Others
Medical payments coverage pays for medical expenses for persons accidentally injured on your property by a member of your family or by your pets. It does not matter who is at fault. Medical payments do not apply to your injuries or those of family members living with you or a tenant regularly residing in your building, or to activities involving your at-home business. The medical payments coverage limit is typically $1,000. Check with your producer or insurance company to determine whether the amount of medical payments coverage on your policy is sufficient.
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What Are Home Visits
The home visitwhich typically lasts 45 minutes to one hour and includes a physical exam, health history, and lab testsis conducted by a nurse practitioner or physician under contract to the insurance plan. The results are forwarded to the person’s primary care provider for follow-up. The insurers stress that the home visits are not a substitute for an annual physical or recommended screening tests.
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- Research health conditions
- Prepare for a doctor’s visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Creating A Safety Check List When You Are Going To Be Away
- The first thing is to check your insurance policy to see what the requirements are
- In any event, check the pipes
- Set the heat if it is during the winter
- Set your lights on times
- Tell you alarm company you are going to be away
- Protect against power surges
- Arrange for someone to check the home at various time each day. Not to use a set pattern for this has thieves watching a house will detect this
- See if someone will take on the outdoor maintenance such as cutting the grass or snow removal.
- Arrange for someone to pick up the mail
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