If you’re thinking about owning a home, you’re ready to start thinking about home insurance. But what does home insurance cover exactly? And with all the varieties of policies available, what kind of coverage is an absolute necessity?
First of all, the primary function of home insurance is to protect you, the homeowner, against the costs that could potentially result from a variety of perils. Perils include things like fire, flood, earthquake, theft, vandalism, lightning, and more. Secondly, good home insurance coverage should also protect you in the event that you’re liable for an accident that occurs to somebody else on your property.
So we can break home insurance down into two broad categories: personal property insurance which covers damages to your home and belongings, and liability insurance which covers costs related to an incident on your property where you are at fault. It’s important to note that most kinds of home insurance policies usually include a deductible that you will be required to pay up before receiving compensation,
The majority of even the most basic home insurance policies will cover costs related to common perils such as fire and theft. However, you may have to supplement your coverage with additional protection if you think your location warrants it. You may also wish to increase your coverage if you just want the peace of mind that comes from a higher level of coverage. This means that you may have to get separate policies to gain protection in the event of a flood or earthquake.
In addition to protecting you against the costs of damage caused to your home and property, most home insurance plans also extend to your personal possessions. Whether your possessions are damaged in a flooded basement or stolen by a burglar, your home insurance policy should cover the repair or replacement costs up to a certain point. There is almost always a limit to how much compensation you can receive for damaged or stolen possessions. However, if you own specific items of significantly high monetary value, you can often add a higher amount of coverage through an additional supplementary policy.
Liability insurance protects your finances and assets by paying out to cover the costs related to an accident on your property. If a guest is injured in your home and you’re liable, liability home insurance can take care of their medical bills and related expenses. Liability insurance can even protect you in the event that you’re sued by the injured party. Finally, most liability home insurance plans will also cover your own medical costs in the event that you yourself are injured on your property.
So now that we’ve reviewed the basic foundations of home insurance, let’s get into the specifics.
Property protection covers costs related to your home, land, and property. In most cases, it will encompass four major areas:
This covers the main house-your ranch home, condo, cabin, farmhouse, mansion, or whatever your abode may be. Property protection insurance covers (to varying degrees, depending on the plan) the building’s main structure (walls, floors, roof, etc.), fixtures, electrical wiring, plumbing and pipes, and heating systems. A good home insurance policy should cover the costs of any damages to these parts of the home.
Apart from your house, you may have some other buildings on your property. This might include things like a free-standing garage, backyard shed, or barn. It will even include things like fences and driveways. Depending on your personal situation and set-up, you might want to make sure that additional structures are included in your policy. However, if one of the structures is primarily used for business-say, for example, you have a workshop for your carpentry business-you will most likely need to get it covered under a business policy.
If the possessions inside your home are damaged or even stolen, personal property insurance can help offset some of the replacement or repair costs. However, your plan will likely set a limit on the total amount of compensation that can be claimed. Any excessively valuable items in your house should be insured with their own separate policies.
Whether your house is damaged by fire, flood, mold, or any other perils, loss of use insurance can be a very important part of your coverage. Loss of use home insurance picks up the cost of a situation where you are temporarily unable to live in your home due to damages. For example, if your house is seriously damaged in a fire, you’ll probably have to spend quite a long time living in a hotel as the repairs are made. Loss of use insurance can pay for the hotel and in some cases, can extend for over a year, depending on the extent of the damage.
Okay, so you’ve got your home, property, and possessions covered but what if you wind up on the wrong end of a lawsuit after a guest slips and falls down your stairs? Or what if you find yourself facing steep hospital bills if you take a spill from a ladder while attempting to repair your roof? Fortunately, liability protection home insurance can usually take care of everything.
If you, a household member, or a guest is injured on your property, medical payment coverage in your home insurance policy will take care of the hospital and related costs.
If somebody is injured on your property and you’re found to be at fault, you could be in big trouble without personal liability insurance. This can cover costs from lawsuits, as well as damage to others’ personal property and possessions. In some situations, personal liability coverage home insurance can even extend to incidents that occur outside your home.
While home insurance may not be legally required, a mortgage company almost always requires it. But whether coverage is required or not, with the potentially huge costs that can result from perils, injury, and personal liability, you’re likely to find that you can’t afford to be without home insurance.
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