Owning your own house is central to the American Dream is to. After struggling and striving for years, working and saving up, you finally take the plunge and buy your own home. A monumental step! Congratulations.
After making such a life-changing decision – you must take the right steps to protect your property. The best way to go about doing this is to get your home insured.
Home insurances are a way to protect all of the components in your control, such as your fence, shed, deck, and more. Based on which insurance you pick, you will get compensated, either in cash or kind, or both, in case of emergencies. You’re protected from the most unpredictable but devastating natural disasters. Above all else – it’ll give you peace of mind knowing that you and your family are covered (to make an insurance pun).
85% of homeowners in the US have home owner’s insurance, and they spend an average of $1,083 a year on their policies.
Before you go ahead and get insurance, you should educate yourself on what kind of policies there are. We’re here to help you out by listing out all the flavors of home insurance out there.
Before we start, keep three things in mind.
1-Actual cash value (also known as market value) means the valuation of your home that factors in the age and condition of your property. Replacement cost refers to the amount that it would take to replace the property and it is compared to the other properties in your surroundings made similarly. The only difference between the two is a deduction for depreciation.
2- There are a few specific disasters (perils) that many insurances do not cover: earthquakes and other earth movement, sinkholes, flooding, acts of war and acts by the government, and nuclear accidents.
3- There’s a difference between your property and your personal belongings.
Now let’s find out more about the different homeowner’s policies and how they can help you.
This is the most basic home insurance option out of them all. Its coverage is limited to just 10 specific disasters.
If the area you live in is prone to fire, lightning storms, windstorms, or hail – this insurance will evaluate your home and personal belonging’s actual cash value and insure you for that amount. This also covers damage caused by falling objects and smoke.
If you live in a rough neighborhood that’s prone to break-ins, vandalism, or riots, you’ll find relief in this policy. It also covers damage related to air crafts, vehicles, and explosions.
This policy is a little outdated now, and many insurance companies do not even offer it anymore.
These are called broad form policies and cover the same set of perils as the previous policy does. But rather than the actual cash value, it considers your home at its replacement cost and it evaluates your other belongings at their cash value.
It also covers additional disasters. These include damage created by natural disasters, such as the weight of ice, snow, and sleet. You’ll be insured against damage caused by freezing. It covers accidental discharge or overflow of water or a stream. It even covers damage from volcanic eruption!
The most common homeowner’s insurance claims include wind damage, non-weather water damage, hail, weather-related water damage, and theft.
These policies also cover sudden and accidental damage to appliances like water heaters, centralized air conditioners, or heating systems.
The HO3 or special form policy is more comprehensive than the previous. It’s the most popular policy taken out by homeowners. According to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, around 78.3% of all insurers choose this plan.
It provides ‘all-risks’ coverage, which means that it will insure your home and belongings from everything except certain factors. They usually cover property at replacement cost and personal property at its cash value.
Your items will be covered if they’re damaged by aircraft or vehicles, electrical current, snow, ice, water heater damage, freezing pipes, fire and lightning, falling objects, riots, theft, and more.
You will get protection for your personal property, except in the following situations:
Defective construction or maintenance, government inaction, power failure, neglect, damage caused by pets or any animal, nuclear hazard, wear and tear, flood, earth movement, and war.
Keep in mind that this policy may exclude vandalism or mischief if you’ve left your home vacant for more than 60 days. It can also exclude corrosion and mold, smoke and seepage of pollutants. You should carefully go through the list of exclusions to ensure that none of these apply to you. If they do, many of these have separate insurance packages that you can look into.
This is known as Renter’s Insurance and helps those who lease their homes, apartments, condos, etc. It covers your personal property, at its replacement cost. Some policies cover your liability and additional living expenses if you need to live somewhere else due to property damage. They provide relief in the case of the previous disasters mentioned, as well as water damage from plumbing or HVAC overflow.
This policy is usually for high-net-worth properties in high-risk areas. They’re more flexible and are called ‘open peril’, wherein you don’t have to prove that the damage was caused by a covered peril. They’re similar to HO-3s but have a few marked differences:
Both the home and your items will be covered at their replacement cost. They provide all-risk coverage for both the dwelling and your items. These also include higher coverage for expensive property, including fine furs, jewelry, and electronics.
These also do have a list of excluded perils, such as damage caused by water damage from sewer back up and floods, vandalism if the property has been vacant for over two months, mold, pets, nuclear hazard, intentional loss, earth movement, pest infestation, and war.
Do you live in a condominium or a cooperative society? If you do – this is the home insurance that will suit you best. It covers everything inside your condo. They’ll also provide for personal liability and additional living expenses.
This will only cover your unit and will only give you coverage against certain perils, such as explosions, theft, damage from aircraft or vehicles, explosions, smoke, fire and lightning, vandalism, and riots.
This insurance covers mobile homes, such as RVs, modular homes, and trailers. It also covers sectional homes and modular homes. It provides coverage for your home structure, your belongings, liability, living expenses in case of damage, and medical payments, too.
This policy covers the exterior of your home under an open perils policy, but your personal belongings only under a named perils policy. Your belongings will be insured if they are damaged by aircraft or vehicular damage, explosions, fire and lightning, hail and windstorms, riots, smoke, theft, and vandalism.
Do you live in an old home? One that had aluminum wiring installed, outdated plumbing, or a roof that’s seen better days? Perhaps it’s of some historical significance or acts as a landmark. While you may not qualify for the other kinds of policies, the HO-8 home insurance may be for you.
These will protect your home against 10 named perils and give you coverage at its actual cash value.
You won’t need a four-point inspection, so if you want to keep your home the same way it was when it was first built generations ago; you can. And you’ll still qualify for this insurance.
There you have it – the 8 forms of home insurance that will keep you safe against certain risks. Both New York and New Jersey are susceptible to storms and power outages, so you’ll find some of these policies helpful. Take your time, study them, contact your closest insurance professional, and take the steps to safeguard yourself.