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When the worst happens, you want to know you've got one of the best, most reliable insurance companies around covering your home. There are a few important factors to consider when choosing a home insurance company—price, deductibles, add-ons—which can vary depending on your needs. What everybody should note, regardless of what kind of plan they’re looking for, is how a company handles claims and what kind of coverage it offers.
The claim is your request to the insurance company to reimburse you the costs of unexpected damages. It’s good to know if the company pays the full claim amount upfront, or doles it out in portions; whether your plan covers all items, or just those you’d replace; as well as the company’s general reputation for managing claims. Price and deductible, the amount you pay upfront in an emergency before coverage kicks in, are also important factors, and it’s wise to check the financial stability of the company. Finding the right home insurance policy depends on various factors specific to your situation, but remember to take the time you need to find the right insurance.
|The structure of the house|
|Separate garage, gazebo, tool shed, etc.|
|Personal property (furniture, electronics, clothes, etc.)|
Loss of Use
|Additional costs of living away from home if you can't live there due to covered damage|
|Lawsuit expenses and damages|
|Medical coverage in the event that someone is hurt on your premises|
There are 8 types of home insurance policies in the US, numbered HO-1 through HO-8. The most common is HO-3, a “broad-form” policy that covers what’s known in the industry as the “16 perils.” Think of a peril as damage-causing act that your insurance policy will cover, for example a fire, break-in, or explosion. The 16 perils covers a broad spectrum of damages that range from natural causes (fire, hail, wind damage) to human-related (theft, vandalism), to equipment (a hot water system burning).
The other 7 plans differ in the number and type of perils they cover, or else apply to those with specific living conditions such as tenants, condo owners, or residents of a mobile home.
A basic home insurance plan covers 4 types of ‘damage’ or costs associated with the disaster:
To sum it up: if a fire breaks out in your kitchen, a basic plan would likely cover the cost of rebuilding the walls, replacing the furniture, appliances, decor, etc, treating any people injured in the fire, and paying hotel costs if the house is temporarily unlivable.
It’s important to note what perils are and aren’t covered in your plan. Common perils such as lightning or fire are included in basic plans, while others, notably earthquake insurance, require an add-on policy. It’s best to consider the environment you live in and what common weather patterns exist there. Then you can decide if it’s worth it to add. Here’s a list of some common add-ons.
Bundling deals are a good way of saving money on insurance. Depending on your provider, you may be able to bundle your home and auto plans. Bundling can be cheaper, more convenient, and may make you less at risk of being dropped by a provider for high-risk factors, though it’s important to make sure the bundle offers you everything you’d need from each separate plan. Preventative technology in your home can lower prices as well. Companies often offer special discounts for homes equipped with security systems, smoke detectors, deadbolts, and other measures that minimize hazards.
Like other forms of insurance, home insurance is regulated by state rather than federal law. Regulation can vary from state to state, so it’s important to be knowledgeable of your state’s regulation policies. In general, the underwriting process for home insurance is similar to that of other insurance policies, though for a home, the risk-factors an underwriter might consider are location and relevant natural disaster risk, the type of structure, any history of past damage claims, and, in certain cases, the types of pets you own or any potentially dangerous amenities on your property, such as swimming pools, guns, or trampolines.