Insurance Tips for First Time Home Buyers - Part 2

  • Pricing, eligibility, and policy features vary by insurer. Get quotes from 3 - 5 different homeowners insurance companies, but do not make a buying decision on price alone. Compare coverages, limits, and policy terms for each option.
  • Consider how much dwelling, personal property, and liability coverage you need. It is best to insure the home for its full replacement cost, which is different from the property's purchase price. Replacement cost refers to rebuilding the home using materials of like kind and quality, without subtracting for age or wear and tear. Square feet, construction materials, and special features are among the factors that affect replacement cost. You will be penalized for insuring below this figure if there is a claim. A personal property home inventory is the best way to know how much contents coverage you need. Make a room-by-room list of belongings that includes brand names, model information, serial numbers, receipts, and values. Total the inventory and compare this figure to the policy's contents limit. Choose a liability limit according to your financial assets. Homeowners insurance policies typically offer $100,000 liability protection. Look into raising coverage or adding an umbrella policy if this is not enough protection.
  • Explore optional endorsements. Insurers offer a variety of buy-back endorsements that allow policyholders to individualize coverage. Some dwelling-related endorsements to consider include extended replacement cost coverage, inflation guard, and building ordinance protection. Homeowners insurance policies exclude damage caused by flood and earthquake. Flood insurance is available as a separate, stand alone policy. FDIC-insured lending institutions require flood insurance if the house is in a 100-year flood plain. Many insurers offer coverage for earthquake-related damage by endorsement. There are a variety of policy add-ons for personal belongings. Among these are contents replacement cost coverage, personal property floater, sewer back-up/sump pump overflow, and more.
  • Request deductible options. The deductible is how much you pay out-of-pocket before the insurer takes on the claim. A high deductible lowers the premium and is a good idea for policyholders that can set this money aside.
  • Ask about discounts. You may be able to lower the premium by placing home and auto insurance with the same company, installing an alarm system, updating wiring and plumbing, or replacing the roof. Insurers may also offer a senior discount.
  • Check each insurance company's financial strength, complaint record, and licensing status before proceeding with a policy. Insurers not licensed to operate in Illinois are not subject to state rules and regulations.

Finally, keep in mind that homeowners insurance needs change over time. Examine your policy every year. A higher dwelling limit may be in order due to a room addition or remodel project. Update your personal property inventory to assess contents coverage needs. Adjust liability protection to accommodate growing assets, a new home business, swimming pool, etc. Ask a homeowners insurance agent to help you identify coverage gaps and add protection if necessary. Avoid coverage surprises by confirming adequate insurance is in place before a loss occurs.