by Anna Smith, Sales & Service Specialist
Are you confused by homeowners insurance? Maybe this will help – here are my Top 5 things to know about home insurance:
- Get Down to the Nuts & Bolts of the Policy. Insurance is like a foreign language, but knowing how to interpret your policy will save you in the long run.Always talk with your agent when you are in doubt of what your policy actually covers. Most insurance companies have built-in exclusions with their policies, and when you contact your agent you may be able to add coverage that you don’t currently have. Ask your agent or company what your Replacement Cost is on your home (cost to rebuild the home from scratch if you had a total loss). You may also find out that you might not be insuring your home for what it should be, some companies are allowed to insure homes for only 80% of the Replacement Cost.
- Dogs Aren’t Always a Person’s Best Friend.Looking to get a new pet for your home? Talk with your insurance agent or company first. Some companies have strict guidelines in place for dogs in the home and on premise due to a high increase of Liability losses that pertain to injuries sustained by your pet. This would also come into play even if you are only ‘dog-sitting’ for someone else. The company may also have a list of Ineligible Breeds that you may not be aware of, and could cause you to be non-renewed if a loss would arise. Ask to see if there is a list available from your insurance agent or company.
- Are You a Flight Risk?Many times homes become vacant or unoccupied due to several reasons. Maybe you got married and moved into your spouse’s home, maybe you have a relative that has passed away leaving an empty home, or perhaps you have relocated due to a new job? Life happens every day, so be sure to contact your agent if you have a situation come up that would leave you with a vacant or unoccupied home. Some insurance companies can deny a claim if you have moved out of your home for over 60 days; and on that 61st day you no longer have coverage in place. There are also some companies that will deny a claim if you are no longer occupying the home and another person now lives in it (evenanother family member).
- Best Rates Don’t Always Mean Best Coverage.When you first get your home insurance policy you do a lot of shopping for good rates, or what you believe to be good rates. Fact is, insurance rates are based on more than just the home itself. Insurance companies file rates within each state’s Department of Insurance where they are licensed to provide coverage, and they have to receive approval to get the rates they ask for. Sometimes companies will increase their rates so that they can maintain a higher level of acceptable insured risk, due to extremely high losses paid out for fraudulent claims. These companies can sometimes be the better company even if their rates are higher than another’s. They may also be able to provide more coverage for your home than the one with the lower rates.
- Discounts are Great Money Saving Items!Just because you pay a higher premium sometimes doesn’t mean you can’t get savings. Most companies will offer discounts for certain things, like having more than one policy with the same company, being a long-time customer, being a claims-free customer, or even paying the premium in full. Check with your insurance agent or company each year prior to renewing the policy, you never know what savings are available if you don’t ask. Who doesn’t love a good discount?
Anna Smith is a Sales & Service Specialist in MAX’s home office in Overland Park, Kansas where she works directly with members and Independent Agents.
When she’s not at work, she enjoys spending time with her daughters and pets. They keep her busy from morning until evening, but she loves their time together. Anna also enjoys cooking for friends and family, and shares many new recipe creations with her co-workers.