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What is homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance provides financial protection when your home is accidentally damaged. Home insurance policies typically cover four key areas:
- The inside and outside of your home
- Loss of personal property due to theft
- Garages, sheds and other buildings on your property
- General liability related to a person's injury on your property
What does homeowners insurance cover?
Insurance policies cover repairs, restoration and replacement costs for items damaged due to events such as fires, storms, vandalism or smoke. Here's a look at some key items covered by most policies:
- Your home's foundation, walls, roof and other structural elements
- Barns, tool sheds, fences and other outdoor structures on your property
- Appliances, electronics, furnishings and possessions damaged by a covered event
- Reimbursement for medical bills and legal expenses incurred due to an injury or accident on your property
- Additional living expenses, such as hotel costs and restaurant meals you may face if you are temporarily unable to live in your home
It's always wise to read your policy carefully as many policies have limits on coverage. If you discover your policy doesn't cover a particular item, ask your insurance company about additional coverage.
What items aren't covered by most policies?
Knowing what's not covered is as important as knowing what is. In general, standard policies don't cover most types of damage caused by floods or earth movements. Damage due to neglect or poor maintenance is also excluded. Here are some items not covered by most policies:
- Flood damage
- Damage due to sump pump or sewer backups
- Earthquake damage
- Sinkhole damage
- Termite destruction
- Rodent damage
- Damage due to rot, rust or mold
- Food spoilage due to power failures
- Damage due to regular wear and tear
Depending on your policy, there might be other exclusions or coverage limits. For instance, if your boat is damaged or stolen from your home, many policies provide limited coverage. However, this coverage doesn't apply if your boat is stolen from a location other than your home. For more information about your insurance coverage options, speak to your insurance agent
Actual cash value vs replacement cost
As you compare policies and providers, you'll come across terms about reimbursement. The two most common terms are replacement cost and actual cash value. These terms refer to two popular methods insurance companies use to value insured property:
- Replacement cost coverage: A policy with this coverage enables you to replace your damaged property with similar materials and quality. You receive the full replacement cost if a covered item is damaged or stolen. Depreciation isn't factored into this coverage.
- Actual cash value: Actual cash value (ACV) is calculated by taking the replacement cost and subtracting the depreciation. Policies that have an actual cash value payout usually cost less to purchase. But the amount you receive for reimbursement may not be enough to replace damaged possessions.
A replacement cost policy may seem the most appealing at first. However, the higher potential payout means you'll pay more for your policy. Carefully consider all costs, and what your budget allows, before choosing a policy.
Do I need homeowners insurance?
You need homeowners insurance to get a mortgage. Lenders require you to have homeowners insurance until your loan is paid off. This requirement is outlined in the terms of your mortgage. There are two main reasons why you need homeowners insurance to get a mortgage:
- To protect you. As a homeowner, you are covered if your home is damaged.
- To protect your lender. Insurance also protects your lender's financial interest in your property.
Be sure to ask your lender when to provide proof of insurance. While some lenders allow buyers time to secure home insurance, others may require you to have it before closing.
Mortgage insurance vs homeowners insurance
If your down payment is less than 20% of the home's value, lenders may require you to pay mortgage insurance. homeowners insurance and mortgage insurance differ in four key ways.
- They protect different parties. homeowners insurance protects two parties: you and your lender. Mortgage insurance, on the other hand, only protects your lender.
- The reasons for coverage are unique. homeowners insurance offers protection for damage or loss caused by events such as storms, fires and theft. Mortgage insurance protects your lender if you default on your mortgage payments. If you're no longer able to make your payments, mortgage insurance helps protect your lender from financial loss.
- Lender requirements differ. Whereas homeowners insurance is a key requirement for all mortgage applicants, mortgage insurance isn't always required. If you put less than 20% down, your lender may require you to pay mortgage insurance.
- Insurance maintenance requirements are different. You're required to maintain your homeowners insurance policy until you pay off your loan. But you might be able to cancel your mortgage insurance earlier than that if you meet certain requirements. Lenders may require you to show one or both of the following to cancel your mortgage insurance and reduce your payments:
- Pay down at least 22% of your home's value.
- Your mortgage insurance payments must be current.
What is homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance is financial protection for your home against loss from disasters, theft and accidents. It also protects your belongings and provides liability coverage. Homeowners' insurance is a specific type of property insurance.
Homeowners' insurance covers damage or loss by theft and against perils which can include fire, and storm damage. It also may insure the owner for accidental injury or death for which the owner may be legally responsible. Mortgage lenders usually require homeowners' insurance as part of the mortgage terms.
Why do you need homeowners insurance?
Your home is more than just a house. Not only could it be your largest investment, it’s also your special place for storing things like that antique clock your mom gave you. If the clock is destroyed by a fire, homeowners insurance won’t ease the loss of the clock’s sentimental value, but the right policy will help you buy a new one.
What does homeowners insurance cover?
Standard homeowners insurance policies cover losses and damages to your residence’s structure along with furnishings and other assets. It also provides liability coverage for accidents that happen inside your home or on your property.
Here’s how it works. When you file a claim for a covered event, you’ll be required to pay your deductible and the insurance company will pay the rest.
For example, let’s say the wood flooring in your home is ruined from a broken water pipe. If the cost to replace the flooring is $10,000, you might file a claim against your homeowners insurance policy. If the claim is approved and your deductible is $3,000, the insurance company will cover the remaining $7,000. Phew!
Keep in mind though that homeowners insurance can get tricky about what it does and doesn’t cover. It’s a great way to protect your property, but it won’t pay for everything. Take a close look at potential gaps by consulting a local, trusted provider.
Condo Co-op Insurance Whether you call your condo home, or it’s your home away from home, it’s an investment that needs insurance protection. But condos and houses do have distinct differences, so they require different types of insurance coverage. Let’s go over the basics.
What is condo insurance? Condo insurance is purchased by the condo owner to provide financial protection for loss and repair to the condominium unit they own.
Why do you need condo insurance? A lot of condo owners don’t realize that their condo and personal property are not covered by their condo association (aka HOAs). HOA insurance typically focuses on the building structure and common areas. But condo owners are responsible for the coverage on the specific unit they own.
All smart condo owners need to purchase condo insurance. The right policy will provide financial reimbursement (after you pay your deductible of course) so you can continue building your nest egg.
What does condo insurance cover?
Here’s the gist of what condo insurance coverage typically includes:
- • Personal liability: If someone is injured inside your condo, liability coverage will help you pay for related legal and medical expenses.
- • Structural protection: If damage is caused to the walls (interior or exterior) of your condo unit by a covered peril, property protection coverage will help you pay for repairs.
- • Personal property: If your belongings (electronics, appliances, furniture, and clothing) are stolen or damaged, condo insurance will help pay to repair or replace them.
Landlord Insurance If you own property and rent it to tenants, you need landlord insurance. It doesn’t matter if your tenants are friends, relatives, or your former spouse, you still need landlord insurance.
What is landlord insurance? Landlord insurance protects you legally and financially from damages or injuries related to a rental property you own.
Why do you need landlord insurance? Whether your rental property is damaged in a hurricane or your tenant in apartment 4B had an accidental kitchen fire and claims they’re not at fault, landlord insurance is crucial for protecting your assets from events that are completely out of your control.
What does landlord insurance cover? Landlord insurance policies include at least three core protections: property damage, liability and lost rental income.
Remember when we said we’d call out the insurance types that stray from typical coverage (structural, personal belongings, liability)? Well, this is one of them.
For one thing, reimbursement for lost rental income isn’t covered by other types of policies. Another thing to remember is that landlord insurance does not cover a tenant’s personal belongings. It’s up to the tenant to buy renters insurance if they want to be reimbursed for damage to their stuff.
But hold on, before we get into renters insurance, there’s more you should know about landlord insurance. Depending on the location and condition of the rental property you own, you might consider additional coverage that can cover things like construction costs, commercial property, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, water backups and vandalism.
For example, if your rental property is in a high-crime neighborhood, you might consider adding vandalism protection to your policy.
Renters Insurance Most renters think that if anything happens to their belongings or guests inside their rental property that they’ll be covered financially by their landlord. Nope, not true. It’s up to the renter to buy insurance.
What is renters’ insurance?
Renters insurance provides coverage for a renter’s (or subletter’s) belongings and liabilities. Anyone renting (or subletting) a single-family home, apartment, duplex, condo, studio, loft or townhouse can purchase a renters insurance policy.
Why do you need renters’ insurance? Picture this. After saving for months, you finally bought a new 65-inch 4K Roku-smart television. You’ve been enjoying it for weeks when you notice a water spot on the ceiling where water has been dripping onto the top of your new TV all day while you’ve been at work. You hold your breath, turn on the TV and . . . nothing. Time to panic?
What does renters’ insurance cover?
Renters insurance covers damage to renters’ personal belongings from fire, smoke and water damage that occurs inside the rented property. It also provides liability coverage if someone is injured in the property you rent. So that fancy TV you bought that now displays multiple channels of warped static is covered. You’re also covered if your friend slips on that puddle that’s been collecting from the water droplets that bounced off your TV. Whew!
Mobile Home Insurance Before we talk about the basics of mobile home insurance, let’s get clear about the difference between standard single-family homes and manufactured homes. It’s pretty simple: Standard homes are built on-site while a manufactured home is delivered as a complete structure.
What is mobile home insurance? Mobile home insurance is insurance for manufactured homes. It covers any dwelling that falls under the manufactured home definition.
Why do you need mobile home insurance? Even though manufactured homes are generally much cheaper to buy than average single-family homes, it’s still super important to have insurance. That’s because mobile home insurance protects your investment and keeps you from having to pay for repairs or a replacement out of your own pocket.
What does mobile home insurance cover?
Much like standard homeowners insurance, mobile home insurance covers liability claims, the home itself and your personal belongings.
Most of the same coverage options that are included in homeowners insurance are also included in mobile insurance. The main difference between the two policy types is how insurance companies determine your home’s value.
With a mobile home policy, the insurance company uses the actual cash value to assess your home’s worth (how much your home is worth at the time of damage). For a homeowners policy, insurance companies determine your home’s worth by considering today’s replacement costs (reconstruction using the same materials, at the same quality, in the same place).
Flood Insurance Flood insurance can help ease the trauma caused by flood damage. Let's go over some fundamentals.
What is flood insurance?
Flood insurance is an extra layer of protection that covers dwellings for losses caused by flooding from heavy or prolonged rain, melting snow, a coastal storm surge, blocked storm drainage systems or levee dam failure.
Flood insurance policies are different from the basic hazard insurance coverage that’s usually included in homeowners insurance (for example, water damage from a burst pipe or a toilet that overflows). Flood insurance, on the other hand, provides coverage for water damage caused by the rising of a body of water that covers normally dry land. Flood insurance is not a normal part of your homeowners insurance and must be purchased separately.
Why do you need flood insurance?
There are many reasons why you might need flood insurance to protect your investment.
In general, any dwelling that’s prone to flooding from the shape of the surrounding land (think Katrina), the type of soil or weather patterns, needs to be protected by flood insurance. If you own property in a neighborhood that’s a federally recognized flood area, you’re required by law to purchase flood insurance.
But floods can be super unpredictable. That’s why, even if you’re not required to purchase it, it’s still a good idea to at least look into flood insurance so you know you’re covered no matter what.
What does flood insurance cover?
Flood insurance is another type of property insurance that’s different from most others. It only helps cover physical damage to your home and belongings from floods or related losses from rising water. The amount of coverage and reimbursement you get all depends on what’s specifically spelled out in your policy.
It’s so important to remember that flood insurance is not included in your homeowners insurance coverage. If that’s news to you, you’re not alone—most people need help understanding flood insurance.
If you live in a coastal area where hurricanes are common, it’s a good idea to combine flood insurance with wind insurance. Wind damage is typically included in homeowners policies, but that might not be the case if you live in a hurricane-prone zone and your property is damaged in a hurricane. We recommend you talk to an insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage.
Make Sure Your Property Is Protected Property insurance coverage has lots of twists and turns and can be hard to understand. You don’t have to try and figure it out alone.
If you’re ready for a real feeling of security (not imagined—sorry Linus) but not sure how to get there, reach out to one of our Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) who can find the best property insurance for your situation.
Here's what you need to know: Many insurance carriers have voluntarily left Florida, gone insolvent or tightened their underwriting restrictions, making it difficult for many homeowners to find coverage.
- • Fraudulent roofing claims are to blame for most of the chaos in the Florida home insurance space.
Is property insurance worth it? Absolutely!
- Homeowners insurance is probably the best-known type of property insurance. And it’s a good thing since your home is probably one of your largest investments—and it needs protecting.
Homeowners insurance vs title insurance
Like homeowners insurance, title insurance protects both the buyer and the lender. But that's where the similarities end.
Homeowners insurance safeguards against events that could occur in the future. Title insurance protects against claims that may arise due to past events involving your home.
Title insurance covers events that most homeowners insurance policies don't. These events are often linked to a previous owner or flawed records. They're typically discovered during an examination of public records and long after they originally occurred. Here are some items covered by title insurance:
- Unpaid back taxes owed by the previous owner
- Incomplete or incorrect documents pertaining to your home
- Outstanding liens or lawsuits
- Renovations required to correct work done by a previous owner without the proper permits
- Unpaid bills issued by contractors who performed work for the previous owner
- Forged or fraudulent documents relating to your home
Do you need homeowners insurance if you have a home warranty?
A home warranty is a wise purchase and could save you a lot of money in repairs or replacement costs. But the scope of a home warranty is limited as it typically lasts for a certain period of time.
Home warranties usually cover problems and repairs related to aging appliances and plumbing. Unlike homeowners insurance, a home warranty won't include your home's physical structure or your personal belongings.
What if you don't have homeowners insurance?
If you don't have homeowners insurance, let your lender know right away. They can review available options with you and recommend insurance providers. Your lender can also:
- Explain why your insurance information is needed to get a mortgage
- Provide ways for you to send a copy of your policy declaration page
- Set up an escrow account for your insurance payments
- Answer any other questions you have about insurance
How do I get homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance protects both you and your lender. But sometimes policies aren't always easy to understand. The best thing to do before you begin shopping for a policy is talk to an insurance agent.