Posted on 09/27/2012, by Jeremy Edsall
Does Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Really Cover You?
It’s something most people don’t think about. Homeowners insurance coverage is just one of those things so manypeople purchase and then forget about. Yet, it’s important to ask yourself:
• In the event a kitchen fire destroyed part of your home – do you have enough coverage to rebuild it back to its current state?
• If your home was burglarized, would your jewelry and other valuables be covered?
• When a neighbor falls on the sidewalk in front of your home and sues you for their medical expenses- do you have enough liability coverage to pay for your legal fees?
If you answered ‘no’ or ‘not sure’ to any of these questions- it’s a good time to pull out that homeowners policy and check the following coverage limits to see if you’re really protected. Keep in mind that your policy most likely covers more than just what is listed below- however, these are the most commonly overlooked coverage limits:
This is the part of your policy that protects the actual structure of your home. You need to have enough dwelling coverage to cover the replacement cost of your home, otherwise known as the amount of money it would take to rebuild your home back to its current state. Your replacement cost is typically calculated by multiplying:
SQUARE FOOTAGE X CONSTRUCTION COSTS PER SQUARE FOOT
Keep in mind however, that if your home is made up of high-grade materials such as granite countertops and wide-plank wood floors- your construction cost per square foot will be higher than that of a home that uses standard grade materials.
This is where a good home inventory can come in useful. In the event of a loss, your home insurance policy provides coverage for your personal possessions that are damaged, including furniture, jewelry, electronics, clothing and other items. Your policy most likely has a limit set at 50-70% of your dwelling coverage for these items. That means if you have $200,000 in dwelling coverage you probably have $100,000- $150,000 in contents coverage.
NOTE: All homeowners policies place limits on certain items of high value so DON’T assume that you are covered just because your coverage limit for contents is set at or above the replacement cost of all your possessions.
Specifically take a look at limits set on jewelry as most policies carry a limit of around $1500 for all jewelry lost in a covered peril. Oftentimes homeowners’ total value of jewelry well exceeds that limit.
Personal Liability Protection
With lawsuits becoming more and more common these days, homeowners are being presented with suits for all sorts of property damage and bodily injury claims.
• Did your dog bite a neighborhood child?
• A neighbor fall on the sidewalk in front of your home?
• The mailman trip on your porch and sustain an injury?
These are all scenarios where you could be presented with a lawsuit. Luckily for you, a homeowners insurance policy typically always includes personal liability protection which protects your finances in the event of a lawsuit. In a covered claim, your policy would pay for legal fees and court costs to defend you in a court. The minimum amount of coverage typically offered is $100,000, however, any insurance agent you ask will recommend increasing this amount to $300,000 or $500,000 since the cost associated with doing so is relatively cheap (usually only a few dollars a month).
If you have any other questions about your coverage your best bet is to refer to an insurance agent who can best help you assess the amount of coverage you need.
Editor note: For questions about your homeowners insurance policy, or to have your current policy reviewed contact Tina DeMaria, our personal lines manager at 757-420-9600 ext. 203
This guest post was submitted by C. Wiley, writer for HomeInsurance.com