When it comes to Home Insurance, we've been there, done that, now serving 101 tips in 10 categories ranging from Buying Homeowners Insurance Online to Understanding the Basics of Homeowners Insurance.
With the 2011 earthquakes in Virgina and Oklahoma, homeowners scramble to look over their insurance policies to see if their home is covered. But unless you are a Californian, then you wouldn't know that earthquake coverage isn't included. Earthquake insurance is a whole different policy where you will have to pay a premium to be insured.
So, should you get earthquake insurance? If you live in California, then you know that you should have it. But if you don't, then use these simple tips to decide.
Tip #1: Live Near an Active Fault Line
It's a safe bet that if you live near an active fault line, you should get this type of insurance.
Tip #2: The Type of Home Affects Cost of Premium
Having a wood home is a lower premium than owning a brick home. This is because repairing brick and other forms of masonry costs a lot more. So always consider the costs of the premiums and type of house you own.
Tip #3: Type Of Soil Conditions
Some types of soil amplify ground quakes more than others. This means that you will feel the shaking more than in other places based on the type of soil around you. Harder soils and bedrock doesn't amplify ground shaking as much as softer soils and water saturated mud. Consider the ground conditions in your area and earthquake activity as to whether you should get earthquake insurance.
If you live in an area where floods are a major concern each year, then you know that they bring another potential threat with them: sewage backups. Often severe floods will cause sewage systems to back up into the pipes in your home. Everything from your kitchen sink to toilet and washing machine can be seriously damaged, not to mention the smell and clean up.
There are types of homeowners insurance that can cover this, but they are not offered by every provider. It is also not usually covered under flood protection policies provided by the federal government or private agencies. So you will have to assess the likelihood of flood and sewage backups in your area to determine whether or not you want to seek out this type of home insurance coverage.
The damage to your home from sewage backups could be severe and very expensive to repair. Talk to your neighbors, friends and family to see what they go with, and get some recommendations from your state Department of Insurance.
If your home needs to be completely rebuilt after a natural disaster, the last thing you want to hear is that your insurance won't cover the full cost. So how can you avoid this? Well, there are two options available to people who want to sidestep this problem: extended and guaranteed replacement cost coverage. These types of homeowners insurance policies account for inflation, changes in property values, and cost of construction materials and labor at the time of rebuilding.
Extended replacement cost coverage will pay up to a preset amount above the policy limit to rebuild a damaged or destroyed home. Usually it is not more than 120 to 125 percent. Guaranteed replacement cost coverage has no limits, so you will not be held to a specific preset figure.
These policies are primarily beneficial to victims of major natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes because the sudden increase in labor and materials can drive prices up.
Two common terms you may here in the home insurance industry from time to time are endorsement and rider. Fortunately they are not hard to remember because essentially they are the same thing. These are written forms that are attached to your insurance policy. They are there to modify terms and policies or add/remove certain types of homeowners insurance to your existing plan.
For example, if you want to add hurricane coverage to your homeowners insurance, a form would be attached to your policy that adds this coverage along with the appropriate cost and terms and conditions. Simple.
Obviously, endorsements or riders are mainly used when you want to augment your insurance to cover something that you feel is necessary but was not part of your original policy. This way, you can alter your insurance at any time without having to wait until the current policy expires before adding something else you need.
Hurricane protection is another type of home insurance that is not automatically included in your basic policies. If you add this to your plan, it will either add a specific dollar amount or percentage to the cost of your policy.
You may also find that your deductibles will be higher when opting for hurricane coverage if you live in areas deemed to be at high risk. So you will notice these higher deductibles more the closer you get to coastal areas of the United States like Florida and the Gulf areas.
The exact details of these types of home insurance plans will be slightly different from company to company. They will also vary between states, since certain states tend to get hit with hurricanes more often than others. Check with your state Department of Insurance to find out what risk level your area is considered to be in and how that will affect your insurance rates. You may then want to start requesting free home insurance quotes.
Your basic types of homeowners insurance do not usually cover flood damage. Policies that can protect you from this are usually either offered through the federal government or through select private companies. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding and want to insure your home against such damage, ask your current provider if they offer such coverage.
If they do not, you can always obtain free home insurance quotes online from companies that do offer flood protection and consider switching your coverage to that provider. The other option would be to purchase a policy from the federal government. Contact your state's Department of Insurance for more information on this.
It is also a good idea to have flood detectors installed in basements. This can help you prepare and avoid flood damage, but it may also reduce the cost of that type of coverage, just like security alarms and smoke detectors help reduce other types of home insurance.