Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
No matter if you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re buying a new house to accommodate your growing family, this period of change is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. While you’re going through the checklist of things to do before you close on a new property, one important task is to find the right homeowners insurance plan to meet your needs. If you’re unfamiliar with this type of coverage, you might not understand what’s covered under your policy. Here’s a quick guide to help you understand the multiple facets of this important service.
Coverage for Your Dwelling
A house is a major investment, which is why protection for your dwelling is the most important component of homeowners coverage. Dwellings are defined not only as a home’s living quarters, but other attached structures as well. This means your garage also falls under the umbrella of this portion of the policy.
Should you suffer damage or loss in your dwelling, it’s important to file a claim as soon as possible to shorten the recovery time. While every policy differs, there are a few things generally covered by this type of insurance:
- Fire and smoke
- Wind damage
- Lightning strikes
- Damage from the accumulation of snow or ice
- Impact from a motor vehicle or airplane
- Falling objects
Since not every policy provides the same level of protection, it’s crucial to talk with your agent to make sure all of your concerns are met. If your current coverage isn’t addressing your needs properly, don’t hesitate to shop around for a more suitable plan.
Other Structures on Your Property
Your dwelling makes up a large part of your property’s value, but there might be additional buildings on your parcel of land that are equally important. If a garage is attached to the house, it’s considered one of the dwelling’s components, but a detached model necessitates its own protection. You can speak with your agent to ensure everything is covered, but it’s possible to insure any number of property improvements:
- In-ground swimming pools
- Tool sheds
- Detached garages
Like your dwelling, each of these buildings gets coverage against the same types of incidents, so make sure you have everything listed on the policy. If you add any new structures once you’ve moved in, contact your agent as soon as possible to update your plan.
Your Personal Items
Now you know about how your buildings are covered in the event of loss, it’s time to think about your personal property. Your jewelry, electronics, furniture and other possessions are all protected under your home insurance coverage, provided its value doesn’t exceed the amount you listed when creating the plan. You may even be covered if your jewelry, clothing or small electronics are stolen while traveling, but contact your agent to learn the limits of your specific policy.
While your personal property is generally covered under a homeowners policy, there are some things you should keep in mind that might affect your ability to file a claim. You’re covered against damage due to disaster, vandalism and theft, but you won’t be protected if you simply lose the item. If you use your possessions such as cameras or computers in a professional capacity, you might need an additional addendum or completely separate coverage, as they could be considered business assets. Contact your agent if you have any questions or new major possessions, as you don’t want to wait until there’s a loss to find out you aren’t covered.
Your Financial Future
A homeowners policy already does a lot to shield your finances by protecting you from having to pay out of pocket for property damage and theft, but it does much more. Whenever someone comes onto your land, you’re liable for his or her safety, which is why liability is a major component of your coverage. No matter if you’re entertaining guests at a party or having a contractor come in to do work, you could find yourself in the crosshairs of a lawsuit in the event of an injury.
The costs of a liability lawsuit can be considerable, as they go way beyond paying someone’s medical bills. When you have this level of coverage in your insurance policy, your personal assets can be shielded against a variety of expenses:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Death benefits
- Legal fees
Situations That Could Affect Your Coverage
It’s important to know the things covered by your homeowners insurance policy, but it’s equally crucial to understand what could cause your claim to be denied. While you will be protected against most types of damage, you’ll need to purchase a separate plan to deal with a few catastrophic events:
- Sewer backups
- Nuclear accidents
- Injuries from specific dog breeds
Behavior as a homeowner could also affect your ability to file for damages, as there are a few situations that may be used to deny your claim or even void your entire policy:
- Extended periods away without periodic visits from a friend or property manager to check for burst pipes, burglaries and other issues common in vacant buildings
- Failing to inform your insurer about major changes to the property, as extensive renovations boost value and make the home more expensive to cover
- Operating a business out of your home without having an addendum in the policy
- Illegal activities at your property with or without your knowledge
- Providing false information during the creation of your policy or while you’re filing a claim
While most people will never encounter one of these situations, you should be mindful of how you care for your property. The most important thing is that you’re honest with your agent to prevent complications from delaying your settlement.
Protect Your Home Today If you’re in the market for a new homeowners insurance policy, turn to the professionals at Smallwood Insurance Agencies. Not only is your home the largest investment you ever make, but it’s also where your life happens, so why not take every precaution to protect it? To learn more about our different service options, contact our office at 410-305-9796 today.