Home Owners Insurance
Homeowner’s Insurance FAQ
Q: Am I required to have homeowners insurance?
A: Generally, yes. If you have a mortgage on your property, typically the lender will require that you purchase, and continue to hold, homeowners insurance during the duration of the loan. The premium for paying for the insurance may be escrowed with your loan payment or may be an item you will need to pay for separately. Check your loan document for the terms you’re obligated to follow. If you own your home free and clear, you’ll still want to consider coverage to guard against property loss or damage, as well as liability lawsuits.
Q: What does homeowners insurance protect against? Are all polices the same?
A: Homeowners insurance has two types of coverage:
Casualty, which provides protection for the dwelling and often the home’s contents
Liability, which provides protection should someone be injured on your property
All policies are not created equal. There are various levels of casualty coverage, from a very basic policy that provides a minimum coverage of the home only and no contents, to an expansive policy for older, historic homes. Liability coverage typically starts at $100,000, but greater coverage is available and often recommended, depending on your situation.
Q: Is my landlord responsible for the damage to my property because of a fire in the apartment I rent?
A: No. The landlord’s policy covers the actual building, but not your property. You should always consider renter’s insurance to insure your belongings against the same perils homeowners insure against.
Q: Is replacement cost the same as the sale price of a home?
A: No. The selling price includes the value of the home plus the land the home is located on. The replacement cost is equal to the amount you would need to spend to replace the structure. Typically, homeowners don’t need to insure the value of the land, although it is wise to have an appraisal of the home completed to establish the replacement cost of the home.
Q: How is the replacement value of my belongings calculated?
A: Most policies that provided coverage for personal property will assign a value to all the items based on a formula. Typically, the value is a percentage of the replacement value, or cash value, your home is insured for. While it may seem that the amount allowed would be enough to cover the items damaged or stolen, replacing each and every item at current prices can become quite expensive. You should consider photographing, inventorying and evaluating your belongings to come to a total replacement cost. If your policy falls short, consider increasing the standard coverage to ensure that you have adequate coverage. If necessary, add a separate policy for specific items, such as jewelry, electronics or a prized collection that may not be completely covered under a standard policy. Consider adding an inflation clause or endorsement, so your policy continues to keep up with rising prices.
Q: Who pays for the rental my family is in while our house is being repaired due to damage?
A: Typically if your policy includes a provision called “loss of use,” your insurance will cover the cost of temporary housing up to the specified limits. If this provision isn’t included in your policy, you’ll be responsible for the costs.
Q: Am I covered for damage caused by storms, bad weather or other severe weather?
A: Depending on the homeowners’ policy you hold, you may be covered for a limited number of perils – such as fire, windstorms or hail – or you may be protected for a more expansive list of perils including those listed plus, for example, water damage caused by appliances or damage to your home from the weight of ice, snow or sleet. Check your policy or call your agent to verify exactly what your policy covers. Earthquake or flood damage insurance generally must be purchased separately.
Q: Is the property I have in my car covered for theft?
A: Often, it is. Check your policy for specific coverage or limits.
Q: My neighbor slipped on my front step and fell. If she sues, will my homeowner’s policy pay?
A: The liability portion of your homeowner policy was designed for just this situation. Your insurance policy provides for payment of medical expenses and for the legal costs of defending you against a claim.
Q: My son is at college and lives in a dorm. Does my homeowner policy cover the possessions he took with him against damage or theft?
A: Yes. Personal property normally located at your residence but which is at another location is typically covered. Check with your agent for the specific amount of coverage: electronic equipment taken to college can quickly exceed the standard coverage you may have.
Q: During a thunderstorm, a tree fell on my roof. Is this covered?
A: Yes. The repair of your roof as well as some, if not all, of the cost of tree removal may also be covered. If the tree had not hit your roof, your insurance may not have covered any of the tree removal charges.
Q: My car was damaged by a limb that fell from a tree located on my property. Does my homeowner policy cover this damage?
A: No. Look to your automobile insurance for coverage of this damage. This type of damage is generally covered under the comprehensive portion of automobile insurance.
Q: My sump-pump failed after my house was struck by lightening. This resulted in an inch of standing water in my basement before the pump was repaired. Is the damage covered?
A: Possibly. Water seepage is typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance, but damage caused by lightening often is. Check your policy, and check with your agent, to see if the damage is covered.
Q: I have a small, home-based business. Is my inventory covered against damage or loss under my homeowner insurance?
A: No. A homeowners’ policy doesn’t cover you for losses that might occur with a home-based business. You can obtain a separate business owners’ policy to cover losses from theft or damage, or you may possibly qualify for an endorsement to your current homeowners’ policy.