The Dos and Don’ts of Home Insurance
Underinsured homes are a lot more common than you might think. In fact, you’re probably even living in one. Of all the frequently overlooked and under discussed pieces of home insurance information, this is the one that has the greatest potential of coming back to haunt you in the event of a total catastrophic loss. The following list of dos and don’ts will help ensure you’re adequately covered if that ever happens.
- Do listen to the professional advice that you receive from your insurance agent about raising your level of insurance coverage. If they’ve been in the business for any length of time, they’ve learned more about the need for good insurance coverage than you’re ever likely to. Trust their expertise.
- Don’t rely solely on the advice you’re given by your insurance agent. This may sound like it flies in the face of the previous bit of advice, but in fact it’s meant to underline the importance of doing your own research and making your own decisions. Don’t lay all responsibility at the foot of one insurance agent, or one insurance agency. If your agent is advising you that your coverage is sufficient but you have reason to believe it isn’t, insist on better coverage.
- Do keep track of all high ticket purchases you make, and maintain a running total of the value of the contents of your home. Ensure that with each large purchase you make, you contact your insurance agent to let them know so they can make any appropriate insurance policy changes. Depending on what you’ve acquired, you may or may not have enough coverage to protect yourself in the event of a total loss of your belongings. It’s better to find out that you’re underinsured for that antique bookcase you’ve just inherited before a catastrophe, not after.
- Don’t be afraid to switch home insurance providers if you feel you’re not getting adequate coverage, if you’re not getting the service you think you deserve, or if your research has led you to discover that you can get better insurance coverage for less money through another agency. While there’s a lot to be said for sticking with the same insurance company for years, savings, service, and coverage should always trump loyalty.
- Do take a full inventory of your home and all of your belongings. This may sound like an intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be. Focus on belongings that you may have obtained special coverage for, or that are of high value. Record as much information as you can, including their condition, original cost, and even serial numbers if it’s convenient. Consider adding photographs or video to supplement your home inventory in the event there’s ever any question about the validity of your claims, and always store your inventory information away from your home.
- Don’t lower your deductibles. In fact, raise them as high as you can afford. Doing so will have a beneficial effect on the amount of money that you have to pay out of pocket for your monthly premiums, but you should never set them so high that you won’t be able to meet them in the unfortunate event of a loss of home or property.