7 Factors to Consider When Choosing Homeowners Insurance
Thinking about buying a home? You won’t make it very far in the closing process without a solid home owner’s insurance policy.
Lenders require home buyers to carry a policy that covers the full value of the house. But there’s no one-size-fits-all home owner’s insurance policy.
Take a look at these 7 factors to consider when picking homeowners insurance policies.
1. Clear Pricing
Your options for insurance varies based on where you live. Your aunt’s cheap coverage in Washington state doesn’t mean the same provider offers the same policy option for you in Florida.
Still, you need more information as to why your policy premium might be double that of your aunt. Look for insurance providers that have transparent pricing so you can compare apples to apples.
Is the size of the house or your age a factor in determining price? What about local weather patterns?
You should expect to pay more for hurricane coverage in Florida, for example, than you would in Idaho. Make sure the provider is clear about deductibles and other out of pocket costs.
A good provider provides detailed quotes that are easy to compare alongside your other quotes. Be wary of overly simplified quotes that don’t explain what the premium covers.
2. Good Customer Service
Pretend like you’re a customer. Visit the provider’s website as if you were looking to file a claim or pay your bill.
Can you find the login area easily? Where is the number for filing a claim?
You want to do business with an insurance company that’s accessible. A shady insurance company will make you jump through hoops to get in touch with customer service when its time to file a claim.
This is a cheap way to deter you from following through with your request. You also want a seamless experience when it comes to things like paying your bill or making a change to your coverage.
If you have to go on a scavenger hunt each time you visit the provider’s website, you might want to skip the provider as an option when picking homeowners insurance.
3. Fair Property Valuation
In order to get full coverage on your home, the insurance provider needs the value of your home. Not every insurance provider uses the lender’s appraisal as a way to decide what your home is worth.
Ask the provider to give you details on where the property valuation came from. It might be higher or lower than the actual value of your home. Ask them to fix any discrepancy in estimates.
If they refuse, move on to another provider. Miscalculating the value of your home can lead to serious issues down the road.
You’re either paying too much in yearly premium fees or risking a gap in coverage if something goes awry.
4. Available Discounts
Everyone loves a good deal. When picking homeowners insurance, you want to choose a provider that’s willing to reward you for good choices.
This could mean lowering your deductible or overall premium if you don’t file a claim over a set period of time. This is a major bonus since homeowners insurance claims are usually few and far between.
If you can get a discount for not filing a premium or making safety improvements, you create a win win situation for both you and the insurance provider. Ask about available discounts when you get your insurance quotes.
5. Coverage Details
It’s a good rule of thumb to contact 3 homeowners insurance providers when looking for new coverage. You’ll gain a strong sense of what comes standard in a policy and what’s a bonus feature.
It’s also the best way to decide where your premium should fall on the pricing scale based on what you’re getting. Basic coverage should always include earthquake and flood insurance.
But there are exceptions. Areas where floods or earthquakes are common might have limitations. Double-check whether your providers address these common coverage areas.
You don’t want to shop exclusively on price. If you’re in an area that floods several times per year, you could risk huge out of pocket costs if your insurance policy skimps on flood coverage.
6. Past Reviews
Ask friends and family in your area about their coverage when in need of homeowners insurance. Not everyone chooses the same coverage for a property, but people that live in the same area usually have the same concerns about natural disasters or crime.
It’s a good idea to get feedback from others who might share experiences you hadn’t thought of. Consider asking a neighbor for the best idea of what coverage works in your area.
Online reviews are a great tool if you’re moving to an area out of state. These reviews can provide you with a picture of what to expect from certain providers that you wouldn’t learn on your own until it was too late.
7. Quality of Coverage
Every insurance policy should offer protection against damage. But top quality coverage goes beyond preventative services.
You need a policy that helps you tailor your coverage to your lifestyle needs. For example, you’re hosting a BBQ and a neighbor falls down your front stairs.
Does your insurance policy cover their medical expenses? These are questions you need to answer before making a commitment.
You’ll also want to understand what your deductible is for these special case scenarios. Find out what the penalties are for filing claims.
Some insurance providers drop clients after they file too many claims. Check reviews for other home buyer experiences so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Picking Homeowners Insurance for Your Lifestyle
Picking homeowners insurance should be personal. You don’t need a full custom policy, but you do want to consider how your policy helps protect you from common situations in your neighborhood.
Ask around to learn what coverage your neighbors have in place. It’s a good way to research what works and what doesn’t for your property.
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