The process of owning a new home can be exciting, especially for a first-time buyer. But it can also be challenging to navigate, especially when trying to figure out the right types of insurance you’ll need. Here are five things you’ll want to keep in mind as you choose how to insure your investment.
A 2019 study found that three out of five American homes are underinsured by 20%. That means that if a $200,000 home is destroyed in a fire, an underinsured owner would still be left with $40,000 to pay when they rebuilt the home. A key reason for a home being underinsured is not accounting for the rising cost of construction. Owners can avoid this costly mistake by reviewing their insurance policy annually with their agent and obtaining an updated estimate of what it would cost to rebuild in the current year’s construction market.
Are you near a flood plain, a large body of water, or a fault line prone to earthquakes? These natural disasters aren’t covered under the standard “HO-3” insurance, which only covers the structure, personal belongings, and liability in the event of damage or injury. In some areas, federal law requires you to have flood insurance if your home is within a high-risk zone. Even if it isn’t, you may want to consider extra protection if you’re near a large body of water like a river or lake that could flood unexpectedly. The same goes for residents living near earthquake-prone regions of the U.S. Check with your insurance agent to determine the best supplemental insurance for your home’s environment.
While your standard HO-3 insurance will cover personal belongings, you may want to obtain separate coverage for anything of significant value. This can include art, jewelry, collector’s items, heirloom furnishings, and more. While this does add a marginal amount to your premium, you will be protected in the unfortunate event of a theft, damage, or natural disaster.
If you purchased, built, or renovated this property intending to rent, it is a good idea to consider extra coverage in case damage is caused by a tenant. Your local insurance agent can help you determine the correct types of additional insurance. This could include landlord insurance, which covers the dwelling, other structures such as a detached garage, and personal property used to maintain the rental such as a lawnmower. You may want additional liability insurance as well, in case a tenant becomes injured on the property and wants you to cover his or her medical expenses.
After you’ve moved into your new home, be sure to take accurate photos and video recordings of your property, personal belongings, and assets located within the dwelling. Make a list of your major features of the home and assets, and also note the cost of these items. Keep this documentation stored off-site or digitally on cloud-based software to ensure it is protected in the case of fire or severe damage. Be sure to share this with your insurance agent as well. Should the unthinkable happen, it is best to avoid the added stress and have a very accurate record when filing your claim.
A personal home, even if it is a rental, is often your most valuable possession. While the chance of damage or total loss may be low, you never want to underestimate your home’s value to obtain a lower premium. By working with your local insurance agent to determine a fair and comprehensive policy, you can rest assured knowing your valuable investment will be protected for years to come.