For any homeowner, a robust insurance policy is a must. But if you're new to homeownership, or if you're thinking about updating your policy, you may not know much about what it does and doesn't cover, along with how to find the best policy for you and your family.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, a homeowner's policy generally covers four things:
- The structure
- Personal belongings
- Living expenses (if your home is damaged and you cannot stay there)
Here are some things you should know as you work with your insurance agent to find coverage that works for you and your family.
Looking at covered perils
A traditional homeowner's policy will kick in if your home is damaged by fire, a hurricane, vandalism, theft or a number of other "covered perils," but it does not apply if that peril is not named as part of your coverage. If you live in an area that is at high risk for a flood or an earthquake, for example, you may need to purchase an additional insurance policy to have those perils covered. Be sure to conduct an accurate risk assessment and work with your agent so that your coverage is complete.
Homeowners liability coverage
The liability portion of your homeowner's policy protects you in the event that you, your family members or pets cause harm or injury to someone else or their property, whether that occurs at your home or elsewhere. Just as with the other types of coverage in your homeowner's policy, it's important that your liability coverage reflects your personal risk profile and what you potentially stand to lose if you are taken to court. Talk to your insurance agent if you are interested in expanding your liability coverage beyond the typical limit.
Maintaining your home and mitigating your risk
Your insurer expects that as a homeowner, you will perform routine maintenance of your home and attend to your liability risk. If damage or injuries occur due to your negligence, then your insurance policy may not cover it. So be sure to stay up to date with the maintenance of your roof, heating and plumbing systems, and other major areas of home upkeep. In addition, you should always be looking for ways to keep your family and visitors safe on the property. This might mean maintaining a secure gate around your pool, keeping equipment locked up, or just making sure your driveways clear and walkable. If you do your part, your insurance policy will be there for you when a true accident happens.
Next week: In Homeowner's Insurance Part Two, learn more about contents coverage and the best ways to protect your assets and belongings.
For any home insurance questions, call or contact Executive Insurance & Financial Services today.