Home Insurance Tips
Much like real estate, many first time consumers are daunted by the complexities of insurance, sure it's easy to walk in, give some details, and obtain coverage that you believe to be adequate, but what about all that fine print on your contract? The coverage, the limitations, and the perils or losses that simply aren't covered are all details you should familiarize yourself with before selecting the right policy for you and your family.
We've put together a quick little infographic to get you started, but highly recommend you give us a call at 587-578-7653 and ask our client care team to match you with our preferred insurance partners and other highly recommended insurance professionals that we utilize for our own home and rental insurance policies.
Bonus tips 11 - 15 included on the blog only!
Keep your property well maintained If poor maintenance has led to claim, then your coverage could be invalid. Also note that general wear and tear is not typically covered by your buildings insurance.
Make sure you secure your property Some insurance providers will only pay out for a burglary claim if your home shows signs of forced entry. So if you leave windows or doors open or unlocked, you could invalidate your claim.
Secure any outbuildings Make sure you lock your garage or shed, especially if you have valuable tools inside. It's also worth checking your policy has a monetary limit for coverage in outbuildings.
Change your locks if you lose your keys If you lose your keys, ensure you change the locks as soon as possible. It's worth checking your policy as you may have coverage for replacing locks and keys.
Don't always pick the cheapest rates Sure it might be enticing to save a hundred dollars or more per year in insurance costs, but make sure your coverage is adequate for your home, and belongings. A low tier policy could have many more uninsured losses you may not have expected.
Remember to activate alarms If you've got an alarm system, use it. If you've stated to your insurance provider that a burglar alarm is fitted and used, any claim for theft may be invalid if your alarm wasn't set at that time.
Don't deliberately cause damage to your property Although most policies cover malicious damage, insurance providers won't cover you for deliberate damage caused by yourself, or a family member insured under the policy.
Don't use appliances you know to be faulty Some insurance providers may refuse to pay for a claim if damage was caused by an appliance that you knew to be faulty - but still used anyway.
Don't announce a holiday on social media Insurance companies are paying more attention than ever to social media, announcing a vacant home could be seen as negligence and end up having a denied claim.
Take inventory of your belongings Nothing makes a covered loss go smoother than having documented proof of all your belongings, from receipts, and purchase dates, videos or pictures, all these steps will go a long way in the event of a loss.
- Take note on special limits of insurance Did you know that insurance policies will limit coverage for specific items, from jewelry to coins, artwork, and bicycles, camera equipment and much more. Many clients in the event of a loss are shocked to find out that their policies have these limits and when their expectations of full replacement aren't fulfilled, it's quite the shocking and disheartening situation. Think about that beautiful engagement ring you have, we've seen policies cap jewelry for as low as $1,500 (and there are surely others that are less) that may only be enough to replace the gold band itself. Luckily you are able to specifically insure items like this (at an additional cost) but as part of your overall discovery and quote take this into account with helping decide on who you choose for insurance.
- Honesty is of the utmost importance We've heard of insurance horror stories where clients didn't disclose certain risks (i.e. high risk dogs) that resulted in claims that went uncovered. Non disclosure, or intentionally lying will typically find you in a situation where your claim is not honored by the insurance company.
- Be open to a higher deductible Unlike auto insurance where drivers who commute daily and are constantly at the risk of weather and road conditions, along with other drivers, debris, pedestrians, etc a lower deductible is usually desirable for drivers, but for home insurance claims are far less common, they're just typically much bigger than most auto claims. Your home insurance policy will not cover you for maintenance, so an old roof for example typically won't be replaced for your $500 deductible if it's been up on top of your house for 30 years, was in bad shape already, and received further damage from hail. Therefore, in our experience a higher deductible means lower premiums. Regardless of whatever deductible you pick, ensure you have enough for this to be covered in the event that you do have a covered loss.
A deductible is the amount your responsible for in the event that an insured peril is covered by your insurance company. For example, if you had a theft loss and the thieves made off with $25,000 of items from your home and you had a $500 deductible, your insurance company would have you cover the first $500 of the $25,000 while they would then cover the rest.
- Not all companies will insure your home! Direct writers like Allstate Insurance or State Farm tend to have a preferred book of business, favoring your more common risks, such as standard homes in new communities. While insurance brokers who work with multiple companies will have access to many different insurance providers who all have varied levels of risk tolerance. But one thing in common between them is that there are many companies that simply won't take your risk on and you'll need to have a diligent agent who knows their policies and coverage. If your home has certain features that are higher risk, these can include Poly B plumbing, very old heating and hot water tank systems (unless you obtain an inspection them), homes with aluminum or knob and tube wiring, or home owners with specific dog breeds.
- Shop around, bundle, and do your homework Protecting one of your biggest investments and taking the time to choosing the proper company is well worth your time, bundle your home and auto insurance for savings with most companies, obtain multiple quotes (it gets easier after the first one as you'll typically have all the data needed and ready to go) and do your homework.
While we have done plenty of research and have obtained professional advice from our partners who are licensed to sell insurance, we do not recommend that this article or any information, social media posts, blogs, etc be used as legal or professional advice. We recommend that you utilize this information more as a guide for buying insurance and navigating the market. We always recommend that you ask these and any other questions to your licensed real estate agent or to seek out your current insurance provider to clarify any terms or points you may be unsure of.
Do you have any home insurance tips you'd like to share?
Sound off in the comments below and let us know your do's and don'ts for home insurance, possibly a claim experience that went really well, or really poorly, a tip or trick that saved you a lot of money, or