As a first-time homeowner, you make so many important decisions. From working through the buying process to wrapping up closing and finalizing the loan, you take time to understand all the details.
When you shop for insurance for the new house, do you know which questions to ask about a homeowners policy?
We often see first-time homeowners facing unexpected emergencies like burst pipes behind the walls or a flooded basement. A call to your insurance agent gets you a claim number, and you’re told to contact a disaster mitigation contractor. Will the news be good or bad? It all depends on your policy.
Buying a Homeowners Insurance Policy: 7 Questions You Need to Ask
Through our years of experience as disaster restoration professionals, we’ve seen so many new homeowners caught off guard by the details in their home insurance policy. When the adjuster says you’re on your own dealing with sewage backup or mold removal, you know you’re in trouble.
If you’re buying home insurance for the first time, ask these seven important questions about your homeowners policy.
1. What information is needed for a home insurance quote?
When you shop for homeowners insurance, most companies require the following basic information to work up a quote specific to your property.
• Details about everyone living in the house including dates of birth and Social Security numbers
• Information about current and past home, renters and auto insurance coverage
• The location, age and size of your house as well as details about any major renovations
2. What is and isn’t covered by my home insurance policy?
This is one of the most critical questions to ask when buying homeowners insurance. In general, your policy covers damages resulting from accidents, fires and water damage. However, flooding due to natural disasters must be covered by a separate insurance policy.
3. What kind of personal liability coverage can I expect?
A basic homeowners policy protects you in case someone is hurt on your property. It covers medical expenses as well as lawsuits that might result from an accident. The details are included in your policy’s liability coverage section, so go over it carefully with your agent.
4. Are there available discounts that can save money on home insurance?
This is another important question to ask when you’re shopping for homeowners insurance. Many carriers offer discounts based on security around the house. Storm shutters, smoke alarms, fire sprinklers and smart home systems can help you save on a home insurance policy.
5. How can I be sure I’m choosing the right deductible?
When you decide on a deductible for your homeowners insurance, you’re balancing the long-term cost of your policy against what you can afford out-of-pocket in case of a claim. A higher deductible holds down your premium, but do the math so that you can see how it all impacts your budget.
6. Do I want coverage for replacement costs or the actual cash value of damages to my home?
Under a replacement cost policy, homeowners insurance covers damages leaving you to pay only the deductible. With a cash value policy, property depreciation becomes a factor, so you might be responsible for both the deductible and additional payouts to restore the house to market value. Most property owners prefer replacement cost coverage.
7. How does the insurance company handle home insurance claims?
Ask about the process for filing claims on everything from liability to fire and water damages. You also want to know how long a claim stays on your record and the number or types of claims that lead to premium increases. A reputable agent should always be transparent about how filing a claim affects your policy.
Extra Homeowners Insurance Policy Tips
• When you purchase a condo, insurance details can get complicated. Make sure you understand the differences in coverage provided by the condo association and your homeowners policy.
• Whether you’re in a house or a condo, review and update your policy every year. This strategy ensures coverage for new items in the home, and it lets you adjust for downsizing too.
• If you have to file a claim, you want your home’s restoration in the hands of industry professionals. Tell your insurance agent that you want to work with an IICRC-certified disaster restoration contractor.
Ready to Answer Your Call
We developed this list of questions for first-time homeowners, but the information applies to reviewing and renewing existing policies too. It’s our goal to help you stay ahead of unexpected problems, so let us know how we’re doing. We always welcome your input through our Comments Section.
As Chicago’s most trusted disaster restoration company, we’re here for you 24/7. We know how to work with insurance carriers, and we even help you navigate the claims process. When you need a professional disaster mitigation contractor, ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba stands ready to answer your first call.