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Understanding Home Insurance

Homeowners insurance is much more than simply a typical mortgage requirement. As such, it’s vital to ensure that you understand all of the available options. After all, failure to select the right type of coverage could lead to catastrophic consequences if a fire destroys your home or someone suffers from a serious injury on your property.

The good news is that there are numerous types of home insurance available. Whether you have a brand new multi-million-dollar home or a small, older house with a relatively low appraised value, you can find the right policy to cover your needs. To make the process even easier, we’re going to take a close look at the two most common policy types.

What’s the Best Home Insurance?

The answer to this question will vary, depending on your needs. There are two main types of coverage offered by most home insurance companies: named perils and open perils.

1. Named Perils – This affordable home insurance option keeps expenses lower by limiting the type of claims you can make. Every company offers different specifics on a named perils policy, but you can typically expect to receive coverage for damage or loss caused by several potential incidents.

Fire
Smoke
Theft
Vandalism
Hail
Windstorm
Lightning
Explosion
Vehicle Collision
Riots

You may also be able to buy home insurance that includes a few additional named perils for a higher fee. Examples of these add-on named incidents include:

Falling Objects
Frozen Plumbing
Damage Caused by the Weight of Snow or Ice
Accidental Water Damage

As you can see, a more extensive named perils policy provides coverage for many of life’s most common home-related issues. But before you decide to get home insurance quotes solely for named perils policies, you should carefully review what comes with an open perils plan.

2. Open Perils – Rather than picking and choosing between various levels of named perils coverage, you can ask for an open perils homeowners insurance estimate from several providers. The advantage of an open perils policy is that it covers all of the items listed under a named perils policy and much more. However, you do need to know that no policy will cover every single disaster. Due to this, it’s absolutely critical to review each policy’s exclusions before you sign on the dotted line.

Which Disasters Are Not Covered by Home Insurance Providers?

Even with an open perils policy, you’re not likely to get coverage for the insurance world’s eight most common exclusions. These include:

Flood
Earthquakes
Power Failure
Neglect
Intentional Acts
Ordinance of Law
Nuclear Explosion
War

This doesn’t mean you can’t get any type of coverage at all for some of these potential disasters. There are special insurance policies and riders for incidents such as floods and earthquakes. Buying these may or may not make sense, depending on where you live. For instance, if you live in New Orleans, flood insurance is probably a good investment. But if you live in Los Angeles, you run a much bigger risk of facing a serious earthquake than a devastating flood.

What Do the Best Homeowners Insurance Companies Offer?

You’re going to discover a lot of similarities between the named perils and open perils policies provided by national and local home insurance businesses. There are also some additional things that you should see mentioned on any good policy, including:

Dwelling Coverage
Coverage for Other Property Structures
Personal Possessions
Loss of Use
Medical Payments
Personal Liability

Some of the best providers offers additional add-on options such as Water Back-Up and Personal Injury riders.

Is Cheap Home Insurance Worthwhile?

Let’s face it; almost every homeowner wants to minimize their expenses by getting quotes from the cheapest home insurance companies. Before you sign up for one of these policies, make sure you take the time to assess the potential risks and rewards of the inexpensive approach.

1. Potential Rewards – You’ll definitely save money on your bills if you opt for cheap homeowners insurance. Per the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 6 percent of all insured homes in the U.S. file a claim each year. That may seem very low, but keep in mind that your odds of filing a claim go up every year until a disaster strikes. Still, the 6 percent statistic means that many homeowners can safely opt for a less expensive policy.

2. Potential Risks – There is much to consider when it comes to what type of policy you should select. Sure, you could save money, but what happens if your home goes up in flames and you don’t have enough coverage? The average cost of a fire is more than $68,000. Theoretically, if you were to skimp on coverage and get an insurance policy that only covered up to $50,000 for a house fire, you could end up stuck paying more than $18,000 out of pocket for home repairs.

The risk vs. reward structure for home insurance rates goes much further than simply how much money you spend or save annually. Imagine you could save $500 annually with a cheaper policy. In the fire scenario listed above, that means you’d have to go at least 36 years without a fire in order to end up on the positive side of the equation. The biggest question to ask yourself is this: are you confident enough in your personal luck that you’re willing to take that chance?

Now, the odds are high that you’ll actually have at least $100,000 in fire coverage. This still doesn’t necessarily cover everything because of the 80 percent rule. In a nutshell, your homeowners insurance coverage may only cover up to the full insured amount if you have a policy worth 80 percent or more of the home’s replacement value. Anything less than that can be deducted from what the insurer pays. Be sure to discuss this rule with your home insurance broker to ensure you get the proper amount of coverage.

How to Get Lower Homeowners Insurance Rates without Reducing Coverage

If you’re like most people, you now want to know how to get the lowest homeowners insurance cost without skimping on coverage. There are several options, and they might bring your rates down much lower than the initial home insurance quotes you receive. Be sure to discuss any applicable potential discounts with an agent or broker. Here are the most commonly offered discounts:

Multiple Policy Holders
Non-Smokers
Couples
First-Time Homeowners
Home Security Systems
Fire Extinguishers and Smoke Alarms

You may also be eligible for discounts specific to your location. For example, many Florida residents can get a lower homeowners insurance quote if they prove that they’ve put wind mitigation techniques in place.

How to Get the Best Policy

Keep in mind that comparing insurance quotes isn’t always like comparing apples. Instead of looking at everything the quoted policies have in common, you’ll want to look at where they differ. It’s wise to answer a few questions before you make your final selection.

1. How much coverage do they provide in each category?
2. How much is the deductible?
3. Does their quote include an open perils or named perils policy?
4. Do they include coverage for anything extra?
5. Do they offer all the extra riders that you need?
5. Do they have a good reputation?

Don’t forget to perform a quick risk vs. cost analysis, as previously mentioned. Be careful not to accept a slightly lower fee in exchange for a much higher deductible.

How to Find the Best Home Insurance Companies

There’s nothing difficult about finding an insurance provider. But how can you make sure you get the best homeowners insurance you can afford? In the past, this would have taken an extensive amount of research, along with countless phone calls and visits to each insurer. Fortunately, you’re now able to cut through most of this by turning to an online homeowners insurance comparison site. Not only will this allow you to compare prices and policies in one place but it’s also often possible to see consumer reviews too.

Get a Home Insurance Quote Online

Our independent insurance agency makes it easier than ever to find the best policy to suit your needs. We work with several of the top insurance companies in the country, thereby saving you lots of time and energy. Simply provide a few basic details and we’ll give you a homeowners insurance quote online from as many providers as you’d like.

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