January 08, 2019
The number of home insurance options on the market is overwhelming, so how do you know the best policy for you? How do you get the best rate? What do you do if you’re not getting a good rate?
Whether you’re in the market for new homeowner’s insurance or your current insurance is up for renewal, here are four questions to answer to find the homeowner’s insurance policy that works best for you.
First, you want to check that you’re not over—or under—insured. Over-insured generally means overpaying. But if you’re underinsured, a minor accident could end up costing you thousands.
Start by checking your home’s current value on sites like Zillow or House Canary to get an accurate baseline of its worth. See if your estimate of your personal items inside your home is still accurate. In an interview with the National Association of Realtors, Lisa Lobo, vice president of underwriting operations at The Hartford, revealed that most insurance policies don’t include replacement cost coverage. Instead, you’ll get the actual cash value of contents, which accounts for depreciation.
Check to see what’s covered by your policy and what isn’t. If you have valuables such as jewelry or art, you’ll want to purchase an endorsement, which is essentially an addition to your existing insurance contract.
Much like your health insurance, your homeowner’s insurance may have specialty deductibles. This is the out-of-pocket amount you are responsible for covering before your insurance policy starts to pay. For example, some states may have wind and hail deductibles. As Insure.com explains, if your home is insured for $300,000 and you have a 10% wind deductible, you’ll pay $3,000 for any wind damages before your insurance kicks in and pays.
Before you balk at a high deductible, Esurance notes that it isn’t always a bad thing. Having a higher deductible may lower your monthly payments by as much as 20%. Of course, you’ll want to weigh the cost savings against the likelihood of having to pay for significant damages.
Consumer Reports says the best way to determine if you’ll be satisfied with your insurance is to know how an insurer handles damage estimates. Do your research: Read customer reviews and see if customers felt their damage estimates and final settlements were too small. This may be reason enough to avoid an insurer.
Using ratings from J.D. Power as well as data from the National Association of Insurance Companies, NerdWallet ranked the best homeowner’s insurance companies.
You’ll also want to ask your lender about discounting rates. InsuranceHub has put together a list of 15 discounts you may qualify for—if you ask. You can always get estimates from multiple companies and see if either is willing to budge based on the another’s rate.
Any time you can lower your rate and improve your coverage, you want to consider switching your homeowner’s insurance.
You’ll also want to determine if your needs have changed. For example, if there’s an increase in sinkholes in your area and your current provider doesn’t offer sinkhole coverage, you may find a better deal switching to a provider that can cover all your needs. Just remember: If you switch providers, cancel your insurance with your old provider!
If you have an immediate financial need not covered by your homeowner’s insurance, you may want to consider a Hometap Investment. Hometap offers a smart way to tap into your home’s equity to fund expected—an unexpected—life events like home improvements and education costs.
*Hometap Note: The opinions expressed in this post are for informational purposes only. To determine the best financing for your personal circumstances and goals, consult with a licensed advisor.
Director of Finance
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