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Complete Guide to homeowner insurance in US

home insurance policy offers protection to the structure structure of the house in case of any physical destruction or damages that happened to the house.

Homeowners insurance is made up of coverages that may help pay to repair or replace your home and belongings if they are damaged by certain perils, such as fire or theft. Checkout our post on property insurance in US

 

It may also help cover costs if you accidentally damage another person’s property or if a visitor is injured at your home.

Home insurance provides coverage to a house and its contents against loss or damage caused by man-made (theft, burglary, strike, riot, terrorism, etc.)

And natural calamities (flood, storm, landslide, etc.)

looking at the world today you will see that the level of natural disaster such as storms, floods, earthquake, is o increase.

In the first half of 2020 itself, India has witnessed two cyclones one each in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

When such a natural calamity strikes, it not only damages the trees, vehicles and external properties but also ends up damaging several houses.

Your house is one of your most prized possessions and thus, you need to protect it against any loss or damages arising out of such natural calamities.

If you have a house insurance policy, your house will be protected from all kinds of unforeseen dangers, including storms, floods and cyclones.

Stay insured by opting for house insurance for a longer period in a hassle-free and cost-effective way

Home insurance is popularly known as homeowner’s insurance.

It is a sort of property insurance covering private residence.

Having property insurance essentially assures you of security and certainty in an otherwise uncertain world.

It is a sort of property insurance covering private residence.

Homeowners insurance covers the following

Coverage for the structure of your home

Your homeowners policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or other disasters listed in your policy.

Most policies also cover detached structures such as a garage, tool shed or gazebo generally for about 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of the house.

When purchasing coverage for the structure of your home, remember this simple guideline: Purchase enough coverage to rebuild your home.

Cover For Personal Possessions / Property

A home insurance policy also covers your personal property or the contents of your house against a variety of risks.

The personal property cover usually includes electrical appliances like television sets, personal computers, microwaves, refrigerators, air-conditioners, etc.

It also includes furniture like beds, couches, dining tables, along with furnishings like curtains, rugs etc.

Often, expensive assets like jewelry is also included under the personal property cover of home insurance policy.

However, when it comes to personal property cover, most insurance companies have specified limits for different items of personal possession.

Cover for Alternate / Additional Accommodation

Another important feature of a home insurance policy is the Loss of Use cover or cover for Alternate / Additional accommodation expenses.

The objective of this cover is to reimburse the policy holder / home owner for all living expenses which they might incur, in case the insured house is damaged or destroyed by an insured cause.

The expenses covered under this section typically include additional rent, travel, food and any other living expenses which might be borne by the home owner towards their alternate living arrangements.

Do remember to keep all the receipts of any expenses incurred during such a period of temporary living arrangement for insurance purposes

Personal Liability for Damage or Injuries

Liability coverage protects you from lawsuits filed by others.

This clause even includes your pets! So, if your dog bites your neighbor, Doris, no matter if the bite occurs at your place or hers, your insurer will pay her medical expenses.

Or, if your kid breaks her Ming vase, you can file a claim to reimburse her.

And if Doris slips on the broken vase pieces and successfully sues for pain and suffering or lost wages, you’ll be covered for that, too, just as if someone had been injured on your property.

While policies can offer as little as $100,000 of coverage, experts recommend having at least $300,000 worth of coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

For extra protection, a few hundred dollars more in premiums can buy you an extra $1 million or more through an umbrella policy.

Additional living expenses (ALE)

ALE pays the additional costs of living away from home if you cannot live there due to damage from a an insured disaster.

It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other costs, over and above your usual living expenses, incurred while your home is being rebuilt.

Keep in mind that the ALE coverage in your homeowners policy has limits

and some policies include a time limitation. However, these limits are separate from the amount available to rebuild or repair your home.

Even if you use up your ALE your insurance company will still pay the full cost of rebuilding your home up to the policy limit. you may also like to check out our post on Canada universal health insurance

If you rent out part of your house, ALE also covers you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.

Hotel or House Rental While Your Home Is Being Rebuilt or Repaired

It’s unlikely, but if you do find yourself forced out of your home for a time, it will undoubtedly be the best coverage you ever purchased.

This part of insurance coverage, known as additional living expenses, would reimburse you for the rent, hotel room, restaurant meals,

And other incidental costs you incur while waiting for your home to become habitable again.

Before you book a suite at the Ritz-Carlton and order caviar from room service, however, keep in mind that policies impose strict daily and total limits.

Of course, you can expand those daily limits if you’re willing to pay more in coverage.

Three ways to insure the structure of your home:

  1. Replacement Cost. Insurance that pays the policyholder the cost of replacing the damaged property without deduction for depreciation, but limited to a maximum dollar amount.
  2. Extended Replacement Cost. An extended replacement cost policy, one that covers costs up to a certain percentage over the limit (usually 20%). This gives you protection against such things as a sudden increase in construction costs.
  3. Actual Cash Value. This covers the cost to replace your home minus depreciation costs for age and use. For example, if the life expectancy of your roof is 20 years and your roof is 15 years old, the cost to replace it in today’s marketplace is going to be much higher than its actual cash value.

Types of homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance comes in several types, called “policy forms.” Some types provide more expansive coverage than others, so it’s worthwhile to know the difference.

Although details can differ by state and company, these kinds are fairly standard.

MOST POPULAR: HO-3 INSURANCE

HO-3 insurance policies, also called “special form,” are by far the most common.

HO-3 insurance accounted for nearly 80% of coverage on owner-occupied homes in 2018,

the most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

If you have a mortgage, your lender is likely to require at least this level of coverage.

HO-3 insurance policies generally cover damage to your home from any cause except those the policy specifically excludes, such as an earthquake or flood.

However, where it concerns your belongings, an HO-3 policy typically covers only damage from 16 “named perils” unless you buy extra coverage:

  • Fire or lightning.

  • Smoke.

  • Windstorms and hail.

  • Explosions.

  • Riots.

  • Damage from aircraft.

  • Damage caused by vehicles.

  • Vandalism.

  • Theft.

  • Volcanic eruptions.

  • Falling objects.

  • Weight of ice, snow and sleet.

  • Water overflow or discharge from household systems like plumbing, air

    • Freezing of those same household systems.

    • Sudden damage from a power surge.

    • Sudden tearing, cracking or bulging of a hot water system, steam system, air conditioning or fire protective system.

BROADEST COVERAGE: HO-5 INSURANCE

An HO-5 insurance policy provides the most extensive homeowners coverage. It pays for damage from all causes except those the policy excludes by name.

HO-5 insurance accounted for about 13% of homeowners coverage in 2018, according to the NAIC.

It’s typically available only for well-maintained homes in low-risk areas, and not all insurers offer it.

HO-5 policies are sometimes called “comprehensive form” or “premier” coverage.

However, an HO-3 policy may also be labeled “premier” in some cases, without offering the broader coverage of an HO-5 policy. Checkout US life insurance policy  

If you want HO-5 insurance coverage, be sure to ask your agent or representative.

LIMITED COVERAGE: HO-1 AND HO-2 INSURANCE

Much less popular are HO-1 and HO-2 homeowners insurance, which pay out only for damage caused by issues listed in the policy.

Together these two types account for about 8% of homeowners coverage.

HO-2 insurance, the most common of the two, typically covers your house and belongings only for the 16 causes listed above.

HO-1, which isn’t widely available, is the most bare-bones type of homeowners insurance. It covers losses from an even shorter list of perils than the HO-2 form.

Top homeowners insurance companies are the following

  • Amica
  • Auto-Owners
  • Chubb
  • Hippo
  • Nationwide
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA*

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