You’ve signed the paperwork. You’ve picked up the keys. You’re ready to move into your new home. But have you thought about homeowners insurance?
Owning your own home is part of the American dream. But when the unexpected happens, you’ll want to make sure you have protection in place to repair—or even rebuild—your house. Not sure where to begin? The five steps below can help determine what kind of coverage you need when you start comparing homeowners insurance quotes.
Step One: Organize your paperwork.
Gather your mortgage statements, renovation receipts, and a recent appraisal report, and be sure to review your home’s claims history. For example, if your house suffered water damage before you bought it, you’ll want to make sure the necessary repairs were made to prevent similar claims in the future.
Step Two: Itemize your valuables.
Next, take stock of any valuables such as furniture, jewelry, and collectibles. An inventory of your possessions will help determine whether you need any insurance riders, or special extensions for items with limited coverage under your standard policy.
Step Three: Decide the type of home insurance you need.
As you get ready to look at home insurance quotes, consider your particular situation. Standard homeowners insurance may cover many circumstances, but not all.
Personal property coverage may protect clothes, furniture, and other belongings. If your home is so damaged that you have to vacate while it’s being fixed, additional living expenses coverage may help pay the cost of temporary relocation.
Earthquake insurance and flood insurance are recommended for people who live in areas where these natural disasters might strike.
Dwelling coverage may help pay to repair or rebuild if your home gets damaged.
Liability coverage can help pay medical bills if someone gets injured on your property, and might also pay for legal expenses in case they decide to sue.
Step Four: Collect quotes and compare them side by side.
When you compare homeowners insurance quotes, consider not just the premium and what you pay upfront, but also each policy’s deductible, limit, and scope of coverage.
The deductible is the amount you’ll have to pony up before your insurance company steps in to pay for a loss. A lower deductible may hike your monthly premium, but when you submit a claim, you’ll end up paying less out of your own wallet.
Limits are the maximum amounts that a policy will pay for a covered loss, such as losing your home to a fire, and should be equal to the cost of rebuilding your home, not the price you paid for it.
A liability coverage limit is the amount the insurer will shell out if someone else is injured or their belongings are damaged on your property.
Step Five: Check insurer ratings.
Before you buy home insurance, gauge the insurer’s financial strength and reliability by checking their ratings using sources like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and A.M. Best. For instance, AAA has an A rating from A.M. Best.