Protect your home with the right insurance
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For many Americans, their home is their most valuable asset. Home insurance is an important part of protecting this major investment.
If your home is mortgaged, the mortgage company will require home insurance. But it may only require you to insure your home for 80 percent of its replacement value. In the event of a total loss, you could be underinsured and without enough funds to rebuild.
Consumer Reports recommends that you insure for the full replacement cost of your home. The added protection may not cost much more than what you are currently paying. Ask your insurance agent about it.
Keeping up with regular maintenance on your home is important because home insurance doesn’t cover normal wear and tear or loss from poor maintenance, such as damage from a leaky roof.
Your home insurance covers your liability for damages and legal costs if you’re sued for someone else’s injuries. Most liability coverage for home insurance starts at $100,000. If your assets are worth more than $100,000, consider increasing your coverage limits.
Consider flood insurance, even if you do not live in a flood-prone area. Home policies cover flooding caused by a broken water pipe or other system within your home. Flood insurance covers damages from flooding that originates outside your home.
The federal government’s national flood insurance program pays up to $250,000 for damage to your house and up to $100,000 for the contents.
Premiums in low- to moderate-risk areas can be as low as $325 a year.
For more information on flood insurance and to get an estimated cost of coverage for your home, go to floodsmart.gov.
Filing a single claim will not likely affect your insurance rate, but making a number of claims within a short period can trigger a rate increase or cause your insurer to drop you. If a claim for damage repair is just a few hundred dollars above your deductible, the amount you recover from the insurer might not be worth the risk of a rate increase. When in doubt, contact your insurance agent for the pros and cons of filing a claim.
To get the best coverage for your situation at the best price, do some comparison shopping. Some state insurance departments publish rate comparisons on their websites for companies that sell policies in that state. Websites, such as insure.com and netquote.com, offer information on home policies and provide online quotes from major insurance companies, but not all top-rated insurers offer quotes through these sites.
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