Don’t Let Your Home Be Underinsured

Jan 18, 08 • Money & Finance

 

Is Your Home Underinsured?

Not reporting major home improvements — such as updating a kitchen or bathroom, enclosing a porch, or making an addition — to your insurance company puts you at risk of being underinsured.

With the home improvement season upon us, there is no better time than now to review your homeowners insurance to make sure you have the coverage you need. While Americans spent more than $198 billion in 2004 for home improvements and repairs, only 31 percent said they changed their homeowners coverage to reflect the increased value, according to a recent, national survey of 1,000 people by Farmers Insurance Group.

Not reporting major home improvements — such as updating a kitchen or bathroom, enclosing a porch, or making an addition — to your insurance company puts you at risk of being underinsured.

“Many homeowners are not adequately adjusting their policy to cover the new value of their home,” says Jeff Beyer, senior vice-president & chief communications officer for Farmers Insurance Group. “Often, the only time people review their homeowners insurance is when they first purchase the home.”

Farmers recommends contacting your insurance agent or company to increase your coverage before or shortly after remodeling begins.

Homeowners should review their policy each year on renewal to make sure they have enough coverage to rebuild their house in the exact style and quality of the original home,” Beyer says. “Raw materials such as lumber and stone continue to rise as do labor costs for construction.”

Only 45.6 percent of the respondents said they have floaters or riders attached to their policies to cover jewelry, furs, art, antiques and other items that may not be otherwise adequately covered by their homeowners insurance.

Farmers recommends these tips to consumers to keep their home properly insured:
* Always update your homeowners insurance to reflect the increased value after any remodeling or additions.

* Conduct a home inventory – Photograph or videotape your belongings in every room in your house. Open drawers, closets, etc. to make sure you capture all of your personal items. Also, make a list of all highly valuable items in the house (major appliances, electronics, etc.) and include the brand, make, serial number, model and year of purchase of each item.

* Keep information in a safe place – Store the inventory list, along with the photos and/or videotape, in a safe deposit box or at the home of a friend or relative so it will be safe in case your home is damaged or destroyed. Another option is to store the photos on an online Web site.

* Additional insurance – Make sure you have coverage for big-ticket items like furs, artwork jewelry or antiques. You may want to consider purchasing an endorsement or floater that provides a specific amount of coverage for high-priced or precious items based on their appraised value. Adding a rider to your policy can help ensure that your home office is fully covered.

 

To locate a Farmers Insurance agent near you, call (800) FARMERS or visit www.farmers.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Photo: NCBrian