Homeowners and Renters Insurance

Homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover some catastrophic losses, such as those from earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods.

Homeowners and renters insurance protect your personal property against damage or loss, and insures you in case someone gets hurt while on your property. You may already have insurance on your home if you have a mortgage on the property, because most lenders make insurance a condition of the loan.

Renters insurance, or tenant insurance, offers renters coverage similar to homeowners insurance. If you are a renter, do not assume your landlord carries insurance on your personal belongings; you may wish to purchase a separate policy.

What Can Homeowners or Renters Insurance Cover?

Homeowners or renters insurance may pay claims for:
* damage to your home, garage, and other outbuildings
* loss of furniture and other personal property due to damage or theft, both at home and away
* additional living expenses if you rent temporary quarters while your house is being repaired

Homeowners or renters insurance may also:
*include liability for bodily injury and property damage that you cause to others through negligence
* include liability for accidents happening in and around your home, as well as away from home, for which you are responsible
* pay for injuries occurring in and around your home to anyone other than you or your family
* provide limited coverage for money, gold, jewelry, and stamp and coin collections
* cover personal property in storage

What Doesn’t Homeowners or Renters Insurance Cover?

Homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover some catastrophic losses, such as those from earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods. You may be able to purchase such coverage by adding an earthquake or flood endorsement to your insurance policy, or through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

Shopping for a Policy

Keep these tips as you choose a policy:
* Ask your insurance agent about discounts. You may be able to get a lower premium if your home has safety features such as deadbolt locks, smoke detectors, an alarm system, storm shutters, or fire retardant roofing material. Persons over 55 years of age or long-term customers may also be offered discounts.
* Insure your house, not the land under it. After a disaster, the land is still there. If you don’t subtract the value of the land when deciding how much homeowner’s insurance to buy, you will pay more than you should.
* Make certain you purchase enough coverage to replace what is insured. “Replacement” coverage gives you the money to rebuild your home and replace its contents. An “Actual Cash Value” policy is cheaper but pays only what your property is worth at the time of loss, minus depreciation for age and wear.
* Ask about special coverage you might need. You may have to pay extra for computers, cameras, jewelry, art, antiques, musical instruments, stamp collections, etc.
* Before you purchase a renters’ insurance policy, check with the landlord. The landlord may require you to carry specific limits of insurance for specific coverages. The landlord may also require you to name him/her as an additional insured on your tenant policy.

For help in deciding how much insurance coverage to buy, contact your state insurance regulator.

For more information on home safety visit: USA Gov.

Photo: David Sawyer