South Carolina Federal Insurance Solutions

Home Insurance Checklist

According to the Insurance Information Institute, it’s only a matter of time before it’s your turn to file a home insurance claim. Wind, hail, water damage, freezing, theft, fire, and lightning are just a few of the common culprits. Now tack on the probability of a liability claim or lawsuit being filed against you or a family member, and the likelihood of your home insurance staying on the bench forever is slim.

Review the following checklist with your family and your insurance advisor to be sure your homeowners insurance policy adequately protects you.

  1. Know the difference between reconstruction cost and market value. Your home’s reconstruction cost and its market value can vary significantly, especially if your home is older. Reconstruction cost is what it would cost to replace your house by rebuilding it completely at current prices. Market value is what someone is willing to pay for your home including the lot. The limit of insurance carried on your home should be based on its reconstruction cost.
  2. Check your limits at least annually. It’s estimated that 60% of homes are underinsured, most by at least 20%. Underinsured means exactly what you think it means: You will not be a happy camper if your home suffers major damage and must be reconstructed.
  3. Don’t forget about your possessions. Ensure that your personal property is covered on a replacement instead of actual cash value basis. Don’t underestimate how much you’ll miss that brand-spanking new couch, closet full of clothing, or bicycle after they’re reduced to a charred mess by a fire.
  4. Improve your insurance if you improve your home. It’s estimated that Americans spend more than $200 billion on home improvements each year. To avoid underinsurance, make sure your home insurer knows about that kitchen or bathroom remodel or the new deck you just added.
  5. Take inventory. A digital inventory of your home will be your very best friend at claim time, and it will make your insurance adjuster happy, too. There are many resources available online (such as this one from the National Association of REALTORS) to create a home inventory. We can’t overstate the importance of this one.
  6. Buy flood insurance. Flood damage is not covered by your home insurance policy. Repeat: If your home is flooded, your homeowners insurance will not cover the damage. You need flood insurance.
  7. Insure for the cost of required building code upgrades (such as upgraded electrical wiring) by verifying your policy’s ordinance or law coverage.
  8. Insure your “other structures.” Your insurance advisor can help you determine what other structures you own and ensure your coverage for them is adequate.
  9. Install a home security system, and tell your insurer about it. A home security system doesn’t have to cost a fortune: According to HomeAdvisor, the average system costs just under $700. Many systems qualify for a homeowners insurance rate credit and will save you a few bucks.
  10. Know your deductible, especially if it varies based on the type of damage. For example, your policy may have a $500 deductible for most losses but a much higher deductible for wind damage.
  11. You can raise your deductibles and save money. This is a tried and true way to cut the cost of your insurance, but only do it if you can handle the cost of the higher deductible.
  12. If it has a motor and a driver’s seat, insure it separately. Why? Because coverage is probably limited in your home insurance policy. Talk to your insurance advisor about adequately insuring motorized vehicles — such as a riding mower, go-cart, golf cart, personal watercraft, or even grandma’s mobility scooter.
  13. Check your limits of liability. Statistically, most home insurance claims are for property damage, but a liability claim can quickly ruin your family’s financial future. For example, a liability claim could result if a person is injured in your home. A basic liability limit (such as $300,000) is often easily increased to $1 million or more for little money.
  14. Review your personal umbrella insurance policy to ensure it will kick in if your home insurance policy is wiped out by a liability claim or won’t pay enough due to limited coverage.
  15. Your home-based business is your home insurer’s business. Run a business out of your home? Are you one of the millions of Americans who are self-employed? Are you unsure if your business activities are covered by an insurance policy? Share this info with your insurance advisor to identify limitations in your home insurance policy for business-related claims.
  16. Renting your home or a room in your home? Tell your insurer. Companies like Airbnb have caused an explosion in home rentals. Listing yours might net you extra cash, but payment for claims that occur during the rental may be limited by your insurer.

Be ready at claim time! Reviewing your home insurance policy today with your insurance advisor can help ensure you’ll be ready when it’s your turn.

The advisors at South Carolina Federal Insurance Solutions* are available to objectively shop top-rated carriers to help you find the most appropriate plan for your needs. They can even help you understand and evaluate coverage that you already have. Learn more at scfinsurance.org.

Source: Trusted Choice®

*The products available through South Carolina Financial Solutions, LLC, a licensed insurance agency doing business as South Carolina Federal Insurance Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of South Carolina Federal Credit Union are not endorsed by South Carolina Federal Credit Union or South Carolina Federal Insurance Solutions, and are underwritten through and provided by insurance companies authorized, licensed, or enabled to provide coverages in the jurisdictions where such coverage is offered. South Carolina Federal Insurance Solutions acts only in the capacity of an agent or broker in obtaining such coverage, and may receive remuneration for policies sold. In all instances where a discrepancy might arise between informational, advertising, and/or marketing material and the actual policy issued by the insurance company, the terms and conditions contained within such policies will take precedence.