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Your New Year’s Homeowners Insurance Checklist

January 10, 2017

homeowners insurance new hartfordWe’re starting the New Year with posts that will help you get control of the insurance share of your personal finances. Last week we talked about important car insurance coverages in an easy insurance checklist. This week, let’s do the same with your homeowners insurance.

It’s actually a good time to look at homeowners insurance since you no doubt added to your personal inventory at Christmas time. New golf clubs, luggage for that trip the kids gave you (isn’t it great when they grow up?!), and maybe some fine jewelry under your tree.

Also at this time of year, with woodstoves going full blast and the typical ice damage we see in the Mohawk Valley, claims for damage to houses usually goes up.

So, as we review your home insurance policy, we’re looking for the kinds of coverages and the amounts of insurance. Use the checklist below as your guide to getting the coverages that best protect you based on your unique home and possessions.

We understand that it can seem overwhelming at times, so we encourage you to call us after reviewing the checklist. And don’t worry if we don’t have your insurance right now. We can still go over what you have and then shop your coverages with our companies. We’ll have them compete for your business to make sure you’re getting the best pricing possible.

So let’s get started…

Good Homeowners Insurance Protection

¤ Your Home Gets Damaged
What can happen to your home? Some of the more common hazards here in the New Hartford area are fire, falling trees, and in the winter, ice damage.

Your insurance policy lists the home as Coverage A – Dwelling. The thing to look for here is the amount of coverage. Is it enough to replace the house if it’s severely damaged? Remember, we pay to rebuild. Your insurance doesn’t go out and buy you a new house. It’s only in unique situations that we cover your house for market value. Think replacement cost here. Call us and we’ll get specific about your individual home to estimate its replacement cost.

¤ Your Detached Garage Gets Damaged
Your homeowners insurance policy lists the buildings on your property that are detached from your house as Coverage B – Other Structures. The automatic coverage amount here is usually 10% of the amount on your home.

If that is not enough to replace the outbuilding, usually a garage, then consider raising the coverage amount. Again, think replacement cost, not market value.

¤ Your Stuff is Lost, Damaged, or Stolen
People tend to accumulate lots of furnishings, appliances, sports equipment, and clothing over the years. Your homeowners insurance includes your stuff, listed on the policy as Coverage C – Personal Property. The basic amount of coverage here is 50% of the Dwelling Coverage.

Keep in mind that instead of paying for replacement cost of your personal property, basic policies pay for the depreciated value of items damaged or stolen. However, you can improve the coverage and get Replacement Cost on Contents. Call us for a quote. It will include a replacement cost loss settlement plus an increase in the amount of coverage from 50% of the dwelling amount to 70%.

¤ What About Your Jewelry, Silverware, and Guns?
There are limits to what your insurance company will pay for theft of “special items.” But you can solve this problem by eliminating these limits. So, if you have jewelry worth over $1,000, silverware over $2,500, or guns worth more than $2,000, call us. We’ll give you the cost to insure these items either separately or by raising the special limits.

¤ You’re Sued After Someone Falls on Your Front Porch
Your homeowners insurance policy covers you for more than losses to your house and contents. Owning a home makes you responsible for the safety of your visitors. That means you are vulnerable to lawsuits. Coverage is listed on your policy as Coverage E – Personal Liability. This is a very inexpensive coverage and we recommend you get as high a limit here as you can.

Liability not only pays for any damages if you’re found liable, but it also pays attorney’s fees to defend you. So you could face a frivolous law suit that you win in the end. But without liability insurance, you would still have to pay for your defense.

There is much more to your homeowners insurance than this checklist. There’s coverage to live away if your home is under repair because of a covered loss. There are medical payments for people visiting your home. And credits and deductibles to save you money.

So call us with any questions you have about your homeowners insurance. The thing is, don’t worry if we don’t have your insurance now. We can answer your questions and offer you our opinion on coverages and pricing.

Next week, we’ll take a look at your personal umbrella liability coverage. Here you get protection for that unexpected but large liability lawsuit.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.