As the head of your household, you do everything you can to try and keep your family safe. A large part of that means having a comfortable place to call home, whether it’s a house, apartment, or other dwelling. But providing a home is just the beginning — it also needs to be adequately protected. Fires, flooding, vandalism, and — largely in the case of Florida — hurricanes are all real threats to our homes. That’s why having adequate home insurance coverage isn’t just a good idea, it’s mandatory for many mortgage and rental agreements.
Shopping for sufficient home insurance coverage may seem overwhelming and confusing, but if you start by understanding the realities of what coverage you need and the basics of what policies include, you’ll be in a much better position should you ever need to file a claim. Home insurance companies are notorious for being less-than-forthcoming when the time comes to provide coverage, but if you understand what you’re entitled to and have an experienced property insurance lawyer like The Whisler Law Firm on your side, you can keep your home and your family protected.
The Basics of Home Insurance Policies
In its most simple form, a home insurance policy will cover repairs to the interior and exterior of your house in the event of damage. You pay monthly premiums for the service so that when damage or loss occurs, your insurer will compensate you for repairs and replacements. Aside from the actual structure of your home, items like clothing, furniture, appliances, and other contents can also be covered if they are destroyed.
You don’t even need to be a homeowner to have some type of property insurance coverage. If you rent your home or apartment, renter’s insurance can provide many of the same types of coverage as home insurance. But it’s important to realize that not all insurance is created equal. As expected, the least costly insurance will give you the least coverage, and vice versa.
In general, there are three different levels of home insurance coverage to consider:
Actual Cash Value: This will cover the cost of your home, plus the value of your belongings in it, but only after deducting depreciation. Depreciation is how much your home and items are currently worth, not how much your originally paid for them.
Replacement Cost: Unlike actual cash value policies, a replacement policy will cover the actual cash value of your home and its possessions without deducting depreciation. This would enable you to rebuild or repair your home up to its original value. Naturally, this type of policy has higher premiums than other policies.
Guaranteed/Extended Replacement Value: This is a more comprehensive type of coverage that completely pays for whatever it costs to repair your home, even if those costs end up being more than your insurance policy’s limit. This is why it’s called “extended” replacement; on average, it offers up to 25% more than your limit. Again, this type of policy costs more than other policies.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always wise to have more coverage than you think you’ll need, so select a policy that provides thorough coverage you can still afford.
The Details of Your Home Insurance Policy
Although every home insurance policy is different, there are general details that almost all policies have in common. These four subsets of coverage are such items, and lay out exactly which parts of your home are covered under your plan:
Coverage A: Referred to as “dwelling” coverage, this portion of your policy lays out the coverage you have in regards to any physical damage done to your home itself.
Coverage B: Often called “other structures” coverage, this lays out coverage for damage done to structures or buildings on your property other than your home. For example: a detached garage, backyard shed, or fence surrounding your property.
Coverage C: Often refers to “contents and personal property.” This covers loss of personal property as a result of damage to your home. It can include household contents like furniture and appliances, as well as personal belongings you and your family owned.
Coverage D: A very important section of your policy that refers to “additional living expenses.” It covers the necessary living expenses your family needs to continue your normal standard of living when your home cannot be occupied due to covered loss. For example, this coverage can provide for temporary dwelling in the form of a hotel or other rental while your home is being repaired.
When purchasing a new home insurance policy or reviewing your current policy, these sections are extremely important to pay close attention to. They will tell you exactly what kind of coverage you can expect if your home experiences damage or loss. You can most often find these details on the “Declaration page,” which should be located near the beginning of your policy.
Hurricane Home Insurance
As a Florida resident, you’re likely wondering if your home is protected against damage caused by a hurricane. While a wide range of natural disasters is typically covered by basic home insurance policies, not all of them are always included. That’s why it’s important to carefully read through your policy and make sure it has the extended coverage you need.
Unfortunately, hurricanes often fall into the exclusion category for most basic policies. In this case, you need to make sure you add additional hurricane coverage to your policy. But to make matters more complicated, there’s technically no single policy referred to as “hurricane insurance.” Instead, you’ll want to insure your home against the two main sources of hurricane damage: water and wind.
Flood insurance and wind insurance are must-haves in the state of Florida, especially if you live near the coast. Our state’s home insurance companies have mandatory “single season hurricane deductibles,” meaning you are responsible only for one hurricane deductible during any given hurricane season, even if your home is damaged by multiple storms. Once you’ve met your hurricane deductible, the general deductible on your policy will apply to any subsequent storms.
Making sure your home has the additional coverage it needs in the face of hurricane damage is just the first step in keeping your family safe during a storm. Check out The Whisler Law Firm’s additional hurricane resources to find out more about how to keep your family and your property safe during a hurricane.
Filing a Home Insurance Claim
Securing a thorough home insurance policy that you fully understand is a must for protecting your family and property in the face of disaster. But even with a great policy, filing a successful claim with your insurer after disaster strikes can be a headache. Even when you have comprehensive coverage clearly laid out in your policy, your insurance adjuster’s goal is to save their company money. That means they’ll attempt to provide minimal coverage to you by relying on your ignorance of your own policy. But The Whisler Law Firm’s mission is to make sure that doesn’t happen.
We are seasoned property insurance lawyers with years of experience dealing with insurance companies who are reluctant to provide the coverage their clients deserve. We can help you make sure your family is provided for when disaster strikes. We’ll start by reviewing your insurance policy with you, completely free of charge. Call us at 833-529-5677 or fill out our online consultation form so we make sure your insurance company provides the coverage your family needs.