For most people who own a home, their house is the most valuable asset they have. Homeowners throughout Massachusetts and beyond have thousands (and sometimes millions) invested in their homes, and few can afford to lose their investments. Homeowners insurance policies help protect the financial investments homeowners make in their houses from many potential perils.
Homeowners insurance policies are package policies, which means they lump several coverages into one policy. There are three primary coverages that most homeowners policies provide:
(The exact protections afforded by these coverages depend on the specific terms and conditions found within a particular policy.)
Most fires are devastating. Besides the emotional impact, the physical damage to your home can be significant. If you lost your home to fire, do you have adequate insurance to replace your home and its contents? Remember, inflation rates on building materials and construction costs rarely track with real estate values. As a result, rebuilding a home can often cost significantly more than expected.
Make sure your homeowners policy contains guaranteed replacement cost coverage. This protects you if the cost to reconstruct your home is higher than your current limit of coverage. Also be sure that your insurance includes rebuilding your home to code. Very often, local ordinances and building codes change over time, which may require additional costs.
When your home suffers damage due to an unexpected event, your personal property is also at risk. Furniture, appliances, clothing, electronics, and other personal items can also be damaged or destroyed.
Your homeowners insurance policy typically covers personal property, including the contents of your home and other personal items owned by you or family members who live with you. Make sure your homeowners policy includes replacement cost coverage for personal property so that you always receive the full cost to replace whatever item is damaged.
When there is substantial damage to your home due to unexpected events such as lightning, fire, or a storm, you may not be able to live in your home until it can be repaired or rebuilt�potentially incurring additional living expenses for lodging, food, and other daily needs.
Ensure that your homeowners insurance policy provides additional living expense or loss of use coverage to compensate you for the additional costs you incur for reasonable housing and living expenses if a covered event makes your house temporarily uninhabitable while it's being repaired or rebuilt.
If your diamond ring disappears or valuable artwork is stolen, your standard homeowners policy may not compensate you for the loss. Homeowners policies include coverage for your belongings and personal property, but some special items like jewelry, furs, silverware, antiques, collectibles, and other valuables have limited or no coverage and need to be insured separately.
Valuable possessions insurance covers personal property that may have unique value, cannot be replaced like regular personal property or is subject to special types of losses such as breakage or mysterious disappearance. For most valuable possession categories, there is no deductible applied at time of loss. Valuable possessions insurance can be added to your homeowners policy or may be written as a separate policy.
If a guest is injured while on your property, even when it�s due to a friendly game of baseball, you may be required to pay any medical expenses associated with their injury.
Your homeowners policy should include medical expenses coverage to take care of injuries and treatment - generally not of a serious nature. In the event a person is injured on your property and requires medical attention, you would be able to submit the injury-related medical expenses to your insurance carrier. Medical expenses are usually paid without a liability claim being filed against you.
In the unfortunate event that someone slips and falls while on your property, you and your family may be held liable for any injuries that result.
Your homeowners policy includes personal liability coverage to respond to incidents where injuries or damages occur to a third party where you may be deemed negligent. However, you should consider purchasing a personal umbrella or excess liability policy to provide additional coverage limits to protect your assets in case a lawsuit is brought against you.
The fun that comes with having a trampoline in your backyard can also be accompanied by serious risks, which may not be covered under your standard homeowners insurance policy since coverage varies from state to state and between insurance companies.
You should make sure your homeowners insurance policy covers your trampoline, as many insurance providers refuse to take on trampoline liability and exclude the item from coverage.
Young people are usually very active online. However, using social media and other sites can increase the possibility of them directly or indirectly damaging someone's reputation and exposing you, the parent, to a lawsuit.
Your homeowners insurance policy includes liability coverage for property damage caused by any member in the family, but it may not cover rumors or statements that damage a reputation. You need to add an endorsement to your policy to expand coverage to include liability protection that covers personal injury.
You invite guests over for a pool party and one of your guests dives into the shallow end of the pool and is permanently injured. They hire a lawyer to represent them and after a long legal battle, you and your family are left financially responsible for their injuries. Do you have enough money in savings to cover your legal responsibilities as well as the legal defense costs?
An umbrella or excess liability policy increases your personal liability limits by adding protection over and above your current auto, boat, or homeowners policies-providing real financial value, as well as priceless peace of mind. Excess liability insurance is available either by an endorsement to your homeowners policy or available as separate coverage.
You do not have to live near a body of water to suffer loss due to flooding. With the changing weather patterns and more damaging storms occurring around the globe, flood losses are becoming more common in places that are not normally prone to flood damage. Your homeowners policy does not cover damage from flood. Could your home be at risk?
Purchase a flood insurance policy to protect your home and covered contents from certain types of flood losses as designated by the National Flood Insurance Program. A flood policy is purchased as a separate policy through the federal program (NFIP) or through a servicing carrier known as a write your own carrier.
Owning a secondary home has the potential of increasing your liability exposures.
Be certain that you extend the liability coverage under your homeowners policy to include your secondary home. You should also consider including the secondary home under an excess liability or umbrella policy to provide for additional liability limits.
Collector vehicles often have significant value and require specialized insurance coverage and claims handling.
Schedule your collectible vehicle on a separate collector car policy. By doing so, you are protecting the vehicle for either the appraised value or market value.
If you are a connoisseur of wine, you know that it is susceptible to outside environmental exposures that can ruin it. If the collection is damaged, coverage from your homeowners policy is a possible recourse. However, the damage is only insurable if it is a covered cause of loss as outlined in your homeowners policy. A deductible would also apply.
If you have a sizable wine collection, you may want to consider scheduling the collection on your homeowners policy. Doing so expands your coverage and eliminates the deductible in case of a loss. You can also consider unique coverages for wine, such as for spoilage.
Most homeowners policies exclude coverage for water back-up damages as a result of a clogged drain, sewer, or sump pump.
Water backup coverage can be added to most insurance policies. Consider adding it so that you have the coverage you need in the event of damages caused by a clogged drain, sewer, sump pump, and related risks.
Surprisingly, standard auto insurance does not cover personal property or contents stolen from your car.
Most homeowners policies offer an option to include off-premises theft coverage as an endorsement, which covers you for theft of your personal property away from your residence.
In addition to the above three coverages that are included in most home insurance policies, there are a number of other coverages that policies may offer. Some of these other coverages include:
Most homeowners in Massachusetts should carry home insurance. While it’s generally not required by law, many mortgage agreements require homeowners who have financed their house to maintain coverage. This is a safety measure that banks use to ensure their financial investment will be protected if something happens to a house.
Even homeowners who own their houses outright often still purchase insurance. They may not be under any official obligation to insure their home, but few homeowners could afford to rebuild their house if it was destroyed. Many couldn’t afford much more than their insurance policy’s deductible without taking a serious financial hit.
Homeowners policies can be separated into two broad categories: open perils policies and named peril policies.
Open peril policies generally cover any incidents that aren’t explicitly excluded in their terms and conditions. Some examples of commonly excluded incidents are earthquakes, nuclear incidents, and wars, but any incident could be listed as an excluded item in an open peril policy.
Named peril policies, in contrast, usually only cover incidents that are explicitly mentioned in their terms and conditions. These policies may have basic lists that only include a few incidents, or they might have robust lists that mention many potential hazards. Even robust named peril policies, however, frequently offer less protection than open peril policies. For, the best named perils policies are still restricted to the perils they mention outright.
Massachusetts residents who would like help finding homeowners insurance should contact an independent insurance agent near them. An independent agent will be able to both help a homeowner select the type of policy and coverages they want, and assist with a side-by-side comparison of policies. With an independent agent’s help, homeowners can be confident that the home insurance policy they get provides the protections they want and need.