5 Questions to Ask your Insurance Agent about Insuring your Home!

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5 Questions to Ask your Insurance Agent about Insuring your Home!

Well, it’s been a rainy winter season on Maui. Here on the leeward side of the island it was a nice relief to get some consistent rain (not for the visitors though) but sometimes too much is too much.  The Island of Kauai and Oahu residents affected by the severe weather over this past weekend and that dropped over 28″ of rain in a 24 period in Hanalei! So this brings to mind the subject of Insurance.  I have come across many buyers who feel that if flood insurance is not required then they don’t need to get it. Several years ago in Iao Valley on Maui, we had some very damaging floods occuring in areas that were NOT high-risk flood areas thus it was not required. Can you imagine losing your home and NO insurance to cover it? So THINK TWICE before you waive flood insurance.  Click here for info https://www.floodsmart.gov/

So this may be a good reminder to re-assess your home insurance. Do an annual check up with your insurance agent. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) suggests homeowners review their policies and find the answers to the following:

  • What type of coverage do you have,
  • How much coverage do you need, and
  • What are your current deductibles and discounts

Without periodically reviewing your insurance policies, you may inadvertently assume you are insured when you are in fact not covered.  For example, homeowners and renters insurance does not typically cover flood damage.

NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners) has come out with a guide to help out consumers. This is from their website. Go here for complete info. 

I am not an insurance agent so I want to direct you to  please contact your trusted insurance agent.

Five Questions to Ask Your Agent About the Insurance on Your Home

Without looking, what is the value of the contents of your home covered by insurance? Is a flood covered? If someone is hurt while visiting, will insurance pay medical expenses? Whether a renter or an owner, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) suggests a review of all insurance policies annually. It is a chance to brush up on what is covered, and to evaluate whether the coverage is still adequate (or too much) for your current situation.

When reviewing your policy, find the answers to these three questions:

1. What type of coverage do I have?

Homeowners or Renter’s.  A homeowners insurance policy covers the structure, belongings and legal obligations if someone is injured at your home. A renter’s policy does not insure the structure, but otherwise provides similar coverage. To review a list of coverages that are in a typical homeowners or renter’s policy, go to www.InsureUonline.org, select the appropriate life situation on the right, then click on the “Home” tab.

Replacement Values.  Check the type of replacement value provided in the policy. Actual cash value (ACV) is the amount it would take to repair damage to a home or to replace its contents after allowing for depreciation. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to rebuild or replace a home and its contents with similar quality materials or goods, without deducting for depreciation.

Liability Limits.  Liability insurance protects you from legal obligations arising from accidents involving visiting non-residents. With a few exceptions, such as auto or boating accidents, all-purpose liability coverage follows wherever you go. An umbrella policy can extend the liability limits of a homeowners or renter’s policy if the policy limit is insufficient.

Medical payments.  Homeowners and renter’s polices typically include limited medical expense payments for injuries occurring on your premises to visiting non-residents. It may also cover medical expenses of another individual injured by you, a member of your family or a family pet while away from the home.

2. How much coverage do I need?

Make a home inventory.  A home inventory is the best way to determine the appropriate level of coverage needed for contents. It is also a useful tool to have in case of a loss. When doing the home inventory, make sure to include as much detail as possible about the items. Click here for a home inventory worksheet and tips to get started.

Do not over insure.  Homeowners do not need to insure the value of the land a home sits on, but coverage should include any outdoor structures on the property. For both homeowners and renters, concentrate on an accurate list of belongings and be sure liability limits are at a proper level.

3. What are my deductibles and discounts?

Save money on homeowners or renter’s insurance.  Deductibles and discounts are generally the easiest places to save money on this type of policy. Most companies offer discounts for people who have more than one type of insurance policy with them, and for people who have had few claims or are long-term customers. When it comes to the deductible – which is the amount you have to pay if there is a loss – usually the higher it is, the lower the premium. It’s normal to consider raising a deductible to save on premium, but remember, the bill will be that much more following a claim.

After reviewing the policy, call your agent or insurance company and ask these five questions:

1. Is the coverage on my home and its contents adequate? Is it too much?

The home inventory will help this. If you have any special items like art, jewelry, memorabilia or collections (such as stamps or coins), mention that, too. These items may require special coverage. And, running a small business at home will affect the premium, so mention that.

2. Is my premium as low as I can expect it to be? Are there additional discounts available? Can /Should I raise my deductible? What about mitigating against damage from local threats?

Mitigation – or taking steps to reduce a potential loss before it happens – can help limit your home’s exposure to certain local risks (such as wildfire or hurricane). Ask if there are risk mitigation programs and discounts available.

3. Are there any losses – like flood or earthquake – I need to worry about that are not covered in my current policy?

Neither flood nor earthquake are covered by a standard homeowners or renter’s policy. There are optional insurance policies for both disasters. Ask about available options or visit www.Floodsmart.gov for details on flood insurance.

4. Would my long-term financial health benefit from an umbrella policy?

An umbrella policy provides excess liability limits and possibly other additional coverages above a homeowners or renter’s policy. For example, an umbrella policy can extend the liability to $1 million or more above the $250,000 limit of liability that might be in a basic homeowners policy. As your asset portfolio grows, your insurance company or agent may suggest an umbrella policy for better protection.

5. Has anything changed in my coverage in the last year?

Insurers may change policy terms at renewal, but they must notify you first. Read all notices and information sent from the insurance company. When talking with the agent, ask if there are any anticipated changes when the policy renews.

More Information

Get educated about your insurance choices. For more information about homeowners or renter’s insurance and the basic coverages in a policy, go to www.InsureUonline.org and choose the life stage that best fits your life situation. Or download the NAIC Consumer’s Guide to Home Insurance here.

For specific questions about coverages or about an insurance company or agent, call the consumer representatives at your state insurance department. To quickly find their contact information go to http://map.naic.org.

January 2011

Insure U Online

About the NAIC

Formed in 1871, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is a voluntary organization of the chief insurance regulatory officials of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The NAIC has three offices: Executive Office, Washington, D.C.; Central Office, Kansas City, Mo.; and Securities Valuation Office, New York City. The NAIC serves the needs of consumers and the industry, with an overriding objective of supporting state insurance regulators as they protect consumers and maintain the financial stability of the insurance marketplace. For more consumer information, visit insureUonline.org.


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