Homeowners Insurance Information
What is homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard policy insures the home itself and the items you keep in it.
Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. This includes damage caused by household pets.
Why do you need homeowners insurance?
For most people, their home will be their largest financial investment, and it's important to make sure it's properly protected. Your home could be broken into, it could be damaged in a storm, or it could be destroyed in a fire. Homeowners insurance protects your home, your possessions, and your liability if something happens inside your home. The right policy should let you rest easy and lessen your worries.
Homeowners insurance isn't required by law, but it may be required for you. If you are still paying for your home, your mortgage lender will require insurance to protect their investment.
- If your home was destroyed by fire or damaged by a natural disaster, you'd need money to repair or replace it.
- If a guest in your home is injured, liability protection and medical coverage help pay expenses.
- If you are a victim of theft and vandalism, it can reimburse you for your loss or pay for repairs.
What is and isn't typically covered?
Your homeowners insurance can cover a lot more than your home. Obviously your home is covered, but other structures on your property, such as a shed or your garage are usually covered as well. They're protected from natural disasters such as snow storms, hail, and damage from wind. Homeowners policies cover fires. You're also covered if your home is broken into or vandalized.
Your personal property is usually included in your policy, although the amount of coverage for personal property may be limited on some high-value items, such as jewelry. If you are worried, you can purchase additional coverage for these items.
Homeowners insurance includes personal liability insurance, meaning if your neighbor slips on your walkway and breaks his leg, his medical costs are covered and even time off work may be covered. If your dog gets overwhelmed during a holiday party and bites someone, this would be covered too.
Homeowners insurance does not cover routine maintenance. You can't rely on your homeowners policy to install new gutters or clean your carpets unfortunately.
Earthquake and flood insurance are not included in homeowners policies and require separate policies. Damage arising from sinkholes are also typically excluded from homeowners policies.
If you run a business on your property either in your home or in a separate structure, this is generally not covered by homeowner's insurance. For example, if you operate a wood carving business out of a shed on your property and the building is damaged, it likely would not be covered by your homeowners policy. You would need a separate commercial policy if you're regularly running a business out of your home.
Every policy is different and you should discuss your policy with your agent. A good agent will take the time to discuss all of your options with you and answer any questions.
How can I save money on my homeowners policy?
Most insurance companies will offer you a discount if you insure both your home and your vehicles with them (often called bundling). Staying with the same insurer for multiple years can also save you money.
Discounts may be available for those who pay their deductible in full, those who attend certain workshops, such as Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance Workshop, or those who have a newer home.
You may be able to make upgrades to your home that will help lower your costs. Installing deadlocks, having fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors can lower your bill. Installing storm shutters or a security system also typically results in a discount.
Just like you wouldn't go to one dealer when buying a new car, you shouldn't count on one company for the lowest policy. Shopping around can save you money. If you work with SJ Markham & Son, Inc., we do the shopping around for you!
Lastly, raising your deductible is another way of saving money on your policy, but you should understand what this means. Your deductible is the amount of money you agree to pay toward a loss before your insurance company will pay the claim. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premiums. For example, if your deductible is $1,000, this means you will pay one thousand dollars out of your own pocket before your insurance will cover anything. In some instances, your insurance policy may have a separate deductible for certain kinds of damage (for example one deductible specifically for wind damage).
Things to consider and questions to ask your agent
Here are few things to discuss with your agent that will influence your decisions.
- How much will it cost to rebuild my house and replace my belongings if they are damaged or destroyed? (Ask your agent to talk you through your home's features and the things you own so you can make an informed decision about coverage.)
- What would I be awarded in the event of a loss? (Some policies will cover the cost of your home and items inside it after accounting for any deprecation in their value, whereas other policies will cover the cost of replacing your home and items up to the original value.)
- Does the insurance company have a good reputation for customer service? Is it known for paying claims fairly and promptly?
- What's the process for filing and settling a claim? (Ask who to call and what happens after you file a claim.)
Homeowners Insurance Quote Forms
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Homeowners Insurance Customer Service Options
Self policy service any time of the day, directly from our website. To request a policy change on your account, click any of the following policy service options below.