Because everyone's needs are not the same, it is best to consult your agent to help assess your needs and find the insurance policy that is right for you.
What is Homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard policy insures the home itself and the things you keep in it.
Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. This includes damage caused by household pets.
Damage caused by most disasters is covered but there are exceptions. The most significant are damage caused by floods, earthquakes and poor maintenance. You must buy two separate policies for flood and earthquake coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility.
Why do you need homeowners insurance?
It is really all about protecting yourself financially if something unexpected happens to your home or possessions. That's important because chances are your home is likely one of your largest investments.
It is important to know that homeowners insurance is meant to cover unexpected damage, not routine maintenance. Ask your agent to talk about what is covered and be sure to read your policy so you know exactly what's included and what is not.
Things to consider and questions to ask your agent
Here are few things to discuss with your agent that will influence your decisions.
Home insurance refers to insurance on property that you own and certain personal liability insurance affiliated with that property. In most states, home policies are referred to as (HO1, HO2, HO3, HO5, and HO8.) HO6 refers to Condo Owners, and HO4 refers to Renters insurance. There is no HO7. Some states (Texas, for example) use different classification.
• HO1 Form: Also called Named Perils Policy. This is the basic form providing limited property coverage against certain 10 named perils, all other perils are excluded. These 10 perils are [Fire or Lightning, Windstorm or Hail, Explosion, Riot or Civil Commotion, Aircraft, Vehicles (unless caused by the insured), Smoke, Vandalism or Malicious Mischief, Theft, Volcanic Eruption.
• HO2 Form: Also Called Broad Named Perils Policy. This form provides coverage for the 10 named perils listed in the HO1 plus 6 more named perils. The additional 6 perils are [Falling Objects; Weight of Ice, Snow, or Sleet; Accidental Discharge or Overflow of Water or Stream; Sudden & Accidental Tearing Apart, Cracking, Burning, or Bulging; Freezing; Sudden & Accidental Damage from Artificially Generated Electric Current. There is no other perils covered beyond the named ones.
• HO3 Form: This is a hybrid policy and is called Open Perils (All Risks) Policy. This home insurance form provides coverage for almost all perils (hence called All Risk policy) on the structure of the house or the dwelling, but only broad coverage (as in HO2) on the content of the house, or the personal property. This is the most commonly used form of homeowners insurance. Certain perils that may be excluded from this policy are [Earthquakes, Water damage, Power Failure, Ordinance or law, Any action undertaken by the Government, War, Act of negligence, Intentional loss, Wear and tear, Fungus, Vermin, rodents, insects, birds; Deterioration.
• HO5 Form is a true full Open Peril, All Risks, Policy. This form provides coverage for the dwelling and the content of the home on All Risk basis.
• HO4 Form: Renters Insurance Policy. This is a named peril (limited to the 16 coverage in HO2) that cover the personal property of the people renting a premises and their liability. No coverage is offered for the structures of the residence.
• HO6 Form: Condo Policy. Provides similar protection as in HO3 except with regard to the Dwelling Coverage (dwelling of the condo.) In condominiums, the structures of the buildings are classified as "common areas" and are normally covered through the association. The owners of the units carry certificates extending to them the coverage from the master policy carried by the association.
• HO8 Form: The Market Value Policy. Normally insurance coverages on dwelling and content are determined by either the replacement cost or by the actual cash value. Policies issued with the actual cash value get upgraded by a -rider- to the Replacement Cost, at which point the base of the loss and claim will be the Replacement Cost for the loss, not how much the lost property was worth after depreciation (actual cash value.) HO8 is different. The value of the insurance is set at the Market Value of the property. Normally this insurance is available for older homes in depressed areas. [example: 75 year old home; 3,500 square foot, possible replacement cost is about $600,000, actual cash value $275,000]. If the house has a market value of $63,000, then insurance companies will do only HO8 policies.
Coverages offered under these forms may include:
Coverage A- Dwelling Coverage: This is the amount of coverage on the actual structure of the house, and anything that is permanently attached to it. The proper amount of coverage is based on the Replacement Cost of the structure. So, depending on the area, size of the house, cost of construction, and quality of construction material used; the value of the house(hence amount of required insurance) will vary. Standard construction costs about $150 per foot, on the average. HO4 provides no coverage for dwelling. HO6 provides either little or no coverage for the dwelling.
Coverage B- Other Structures. This is 10% of Coverage A. It covers any detached construction like detached garage, gazebo, etc.
Coverage C- Personal Property or Contents. Covers your personal belongings, furniture, home appliances, cameras, TVs, personal computers, personal articles.. etc. The amount of coverage comes between 50% to 70% of Coverage A. Notice that there is a limit on certain articles (furs, jewelry, guns, etc.)
Coverage D- Loss of Use. In case your property becomes unfit for living your company will pay you for the increase in your living expenses [normally has a time limit of one year maximum, or a specific percentage (20%) of Coverage A.]
Coverage E- Personal Liability Protection: Protects you or covered family members against lawsuits made by others because of your negligence or the negligence of your family members. Normally it comes as $100,000 each occurrence, but can be increased.
Coverage F- Medical Payments (also called Guest Insurance.) This is a small amount of coverage ($1,000 to $5,000) that pays for medical expenses in the event someone (a guest) gets hurt in your house because of anything and there is no lawsuits.
Remember that certain coverages do not come automatically in homeowners insurance like the Replacement Cost. Certain companies may add Replacement Cost by a rider on both the Dwelling and the Personal Property. Also, if you have a finished basement the Back up of Sewer/ Sump Pump rider may be needed but may not be included automatically in your coverage. There are always limits on personal articles, watches, fire arms, and jewelry which can be increased only with a rider. Most companies have different types of home insurance policies and the fact that you are insured with a reputable company does not mean that you have a policy that covers all what you need covered