Your home is the most significant investment for almost every American. Do you know how to choose the right coverage for you and your family? Here's tips how.
How to pick the right homeowners insurance
(BPT) - If you're like many Americans, your home may be your most valuable asset. That's why it's so important to protect it with homeowners insurance. Plus, it's probably a requirement of your mortgage. Setting up your coverage the right way starts with understanding the major parts of a homeowners policy.
Consider the following information and tips from the USAA Home Learning Center:
This protection covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it's damaged or destroyed. When you select the amount, keep in mind the cost to rebuild your home is different from its market value.
It's important to get the dwelling coverage right and to monitor it over time to make sure it keeps up with construction costs to rebuild. Under most homeowners policies, if you file a claim and have underinsured your home, your payout may be reduced.
Some insurers will help you estimate the rebuilding cost. They take into account the features, materials and finishes that make your home unique.
Personal property protection
This protection covers your furniture, clothing and pretty much everything else inside your home. Most policies set the amount of personal property protection as a percentage of the dwelling coverage.
It may not be enough, though. Homeowners plans set limits on certain high-value items. If you own expensive jewelry, art, guns, stamps, furs, cameras, computers, silver or collectibles, you'll want to consider buying valuable personal property insurance. This is sometimes called a "personal articles floater."
When you set up your homeowners policy, you may have to make an important choice about how to reimburse losses. There are two approaches:
To make your recovery from a loss as smooth as possible, replacement cost coverage is recommended.
This is one of the most important and least appreciated forms of protection offered through homeowners coverage. It protects you if you're found to be at fault for someone's injury or property damage. It even covers you for non-automobile incidents away from your home. Generally, it also covers your legal costs associated with such claims against you.
As a rule, your liability coverage should at least be equal to the total value of your assets for both your homeowners and auto insurance. If your assets are higher than the maximum coverage allowed under the policy, consider purchasing umbrella insurance to cover the difference. This is important to protect the savings and other assets you've worked hard to acquire.
As with other types of insurance, a deductible is the part of a loss that you're responsible for covering out of your own pocket. The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium.
Choosing a higher deductible can save you money with a lower monthly premium but increases the risk you take. Consider the amount of cash you typically have on hand in your emergency fund or checking and savings accounts. Make sure you can cover the deductible amount comfortably.
What may not be covered
Your policy's basic coverage won't cover some special risks.
For additional information on protecting your home, visit USAA.com/Homeowners.
(BPT) - We know the old saying: when it rains, it pours… and when it pours, it floods. With winter snow storms coming to an end, the threat of flooding increases as the snow begins to melt and the rivers and creeks begin to swell. It’s easy to forget about how powerfully destructive water can be. In fact, nine out of 10 natural disasters include flood, making it the number one disaster in the United States according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, only 15 percent of homeowners have flood insurance. From 2006 to 2015, total flood claims cost more than $1.9 billion per year and the average claim was more than $46,000 during that time.
“Even just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars in property damage,” says Corise Morrison, executive director of underwriting at USAA. “While it’s possible to mitigate flood damage, complete prevention is nearly impossible. If you don’t take the proper precautions, it can be devastating to your family finances.”
For most homeowners, that means looking into flood insurance. But does it make sense for everyone? As an insurance professional, Morrison has heard all the explanations. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about flood insurance:
“Flood is covered by my homeowners insurance policy.”
Typically, flooding is not covered by a homeowners insurance policy. Therefore, homeowners must purchase a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) from their insurer. If the homeowner does have flood insurance, it’s important to regularly reevaluate it to ensure it provides adequate coverage.
“Flood insurance is too expensive.”
To emphasize an earlier point, the average cost of a flood claim hovered around $46,000 from 2011 to 2015. The average annual premium for flood insurance in the U.S. is $650, according to NFIP. Do the math.
“I don’t live in a flood plain so I don’t need flood insurance.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency found that as many as 20 percent of flood claims come from moderate-to-low risk areas. These are areas in which lenders don’t require the purchase of flood insurance. However, "less likely" doesn’t equal "no risk." Complete this quick self-survey: "Does it rain where I am?" If the answer is yes, consider flood insurance because it can flood anywhere it rains.
“Flood insurance won’t provide me with the coverage I need anyway.”
It is true that the NFIP limits coverage of a single residence to $250,000 for the structure and another $100,000 for contents to the home, but they aren’t the only source for coverage. Excess flood coverage can also be purchased above the $250,000 limit.
“I’ll just wait until it rains.”
Sorry to break this to you, but most insurers require a 30-day waiting period before a policy is effective. Unless your own forecasts rival the best science and technology have to offer, it might be wise to stick to the mantra, "better safe than sorry."
The consequences for being ill prepared for a flood can be long lasting. Research and carefully weigh the risk to you and your property. Chances are that you’ll find that it might be more reasonable than you thought. Visit USAA.com/flood for more tips and information on flood insurance and what to do before, during and after flooding occurs. You can also visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for more information or to determine your flood risk.
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