How to Tell If You Got a Good Homeowner's Insurance Rate
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 homeowner insurance 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.
Do You Have the Right Amount of Insurance?
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.
How Much Does Homeowners Insurance Cost?
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. As Policy Genius explains, if you have a $1,000 deductible and your home sustains $50,000 in insured damage, insurance will pay you $49,000 after you pay a deductible. On average, the annual homeowner’s insurance premium is $1,221. 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.
What Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover?
Standard homeowner’s insurance policies should cover dwelling damages, which include repairs for attached structures such as back decks or front porches, as well as outside structures such as stand-alone fences and sheds. Personal property items that have either been stolen or damaged in a covered event could receive between 50% to 70% in coverage. If a homeowner also needs a temporary place to live while their home is under renovation, homeowner insurance can also help to subsidize the costs as well. It can also help to levigate medical payments if someone was injured on a homeowner’s property, which is especially important if a homeowner is undergoing a home remodel with multiple contractors coming in and out.
What is the Best Homeowners’ Insurance?
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 other’s rate.
Should You Make the Switch?
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! Allstate recommends calling your previous insurance to make sure the cancellation date is on or after your new policy, that you get a confirmation that your policy won’t automatically be renewed and find out if you're entitled to a refund.
Even with the broadest insurance policy, not everything can be covered. For example, flood insurance and earthquake insurance are available separately, and in states where hurricanes are typical, homeowners might also need to look into additional coverage for windstorm insurance.
In an event where 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 - and unexpected - life events like home improvements and education costs.
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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.