Homebuyer, 10% New Customer
New Home, Remodeled Home, Home Safety Features, Multi-Policy, Higher Deductible, Claim-Free
New Home, Home Safety Features, Multi-Policy, Higher Deductible, Claim-Free
Home Safety Features
New Home, Home Safety Features, Multi-Policy, Claim-Free
If you have a mortgage, your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance.
If you’ve paid off the mortgage and own your property outright, that’s all the more reason to protect your investment with the right homeowners policy.
Owning a home means you can:
- borrow against the home’s value for other needs.
- sell the property and use the profit to gain footing in more valuable property.
- rent it to someone else to earn income.
Table of Contents
- Best Homeowners Insurance Companies for 2021
- What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
- Scrimping on Homeowners Coverage Can Cost You!
- Deductibles and Maximums: The Real Cost of Homeowners Coverage
- How Can I Get Cheaper Homeowners Insurance?
- How Do You Know How Much Coverage You Really Need?
- Read The Fine Print
- Important Insurance Terms
- Protect The Downside With the Right Home Insurance Policy
Or, you can just enjoy never paying rent to anyone for the rest of your life.
Your home could be the cornerstone of your financial future, a large asset whose value will grow as time passes.
But if disaster strikes, all your years of loving, regular home maintenance cannot prevent major financial losses.
Be it lightning, wind damage, fire — or even a piece of a falling space station — you’d face expensive repairs or replacement costs which could jeopardize everything you’d worked for.
Which is precisely why getting the right homeowners insurance policy and knowing how and when to use it matters so much.
Best Homeowners Insurance Companies for 2021
These are the best homeowners insurance companies for 2021 based on tried and true performance over the years and available coverage options; however, not all companies operate in all markets.
Lemonade offers instant home insurance quotes without any hassle, and their rates start at just $25 per month. This insurance company operates online and through its mobile app, which boasts an average rating of 4.9 stars on Google Play.
Because Lemonade uses newer technology, it can provide speedy insurance quotes with just a few clicks of a button. It also promises an incredibly fast claims process with 24/7 customer service. Although the bulk of its insurance claims are handled electronically, Lemonade also offers human customer service agents who can answer questions along the way.
With Lemonade, you have the chance to customize coverage to meet your needs. Its homeowners insurance policies can include coverage for your dwelling, other structures, personal property, medical payments to others, loss of use, and personal liability.
Home Insurance Connect
Home Insurance Connect is an online insurance platform, meaning you can use them to compare and shop for homeowners insurance among multiple providers in one place. All you have to do is enter your zip code and some basic information to get a free quote. If you meet certain criteria, you could save up to 40% off your homeowners insurance premiums.
Just remember that Home Insurance Connect is not a direct insurer. Instead, this company acts as a marketplace which makes it easy to compare prices among multiple homeowners insurance carriers. Before settling on a new homeowners insurance policy from one of their partners, research each provider and check on their customer service reputation, claims process, and third party ratings.
Liberty Mutual also has more than a century of service nationally. With 7 percent of the national homeowners insurance market, Liberty Mutual offers stability, durability, and lots of experience.
The independent ratings agencies give the company high marks for financial health. We like the company’s mobile apps and online customer experience.
When a company can offer stability and up-to-date ways to access and change your coverage, we think it’s worth a closer look.
For a limited time, get an instant 12% off an online Liberty Mutual insurance quote.
In business since 1937, Progressive isn’t exactly new in the neighborhood. But it has grown steadily in reputation and market share in recent decades.
We like Progressive because it’s easy to access customer service representatives online or by phone if you prefer.
Also, it goes without saying, the company has some of the highest grades from the independent agencies.
If you live in one of the 19 states they cover, get a Progressive home insurance quote today.
All this talk about customer service and new approaches to coverage brings Hippo insurance to mind.
Hippo prides themselves on their “top-notch customer service,” which are willing to help you through the claims process.
Hippo is available in 12 different states:
We feel like you can’t go wrong with 160 years of consistency in a business as volatile as insurance.
Based in New York City, Travelers Insurance writes policies throughout the nation, which is an important factor with a homeowners policy.
With customers throughout the nation, a company can more easily absorb disasters such as hurricanes that create a large volume of claims in a short period of time.
The independent insurance rating agencies such as A.M. Best and Moody’s also like Travelers, giving it consistently high marks for stability.
Maybe you’re starting to see the trend. Companies with stable coverage and solid customer service continue to do well in the market and on our list.
Farmers is another nationwide company that fits the mold. Based in California, Farmers has been tested, and it continues to excel.
We’re particularly attracted to the discounts you can get by having newer safety features on your home or by living in a newly constructed home, which usually comes with up-to-date safety features.
Unless you’re on active duty, a veteran, or the family member of a military member or veteran, you won’t have access to USAA.’s rates and customer service.
But if you are already a USAA. member, you can find some of the best homeowners insurance and customer service on the market. Even with its limited pool of potential customers, we think highly enough of these guys to list them here.
Standard & Poor’s and A.M. Best think so, too, giving USAA their highest ratings for financial stability.
Allied Insurance, part of the Nationwide Insurance family, offers solid, flexible coverage at competitive rates.
If you prefer getting answers to questions by telephone, you’ll appreciate Allied’s approach to customer service.
Since policies are backed by Nationwide, which has nine decades of experience, Allied is a reliable and stable partner.
If you’re already a Nationwide customer, ask about multi-policy discounts and claim-free discounts.
Eerie Home Insurance excels at customer service, and its coverage is strong, too.
With one of the lowest customer complaint ratios and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, Eerie has the makings of a great homeowners insurance partner if you live in an area it serves.
A.M. Best gives Eerie an A+, one of its highest marks, for financial stability, too.
Amica doesn’t have the name recognition of some of our other favorites, but it keeps moving up the list because customers have so many positive things to say:
- Great customer service.
- Flexibility when you need to change coverage.
- Transparency in billing.
Like any insurance company, Amica gets some negative reviews. But unlike most, it responds to each one, seeking to resolve the customer’s issue.
Amica gets high marks for its financial stability, too. They may not do much when it comes to national advertising and brand management, but people throughout the country continue to hear about this century-old firm.
You know by now that a company wouldn’t be on this list without having earned great marks for customer service and quality of coverage.
That’s true for National General, but some other things caught our eye, too.
National General excels at helping policyholders who have experienced a total loss replace the value of their investment even if their coverage wasn’t quite up to the task.
Additionally, the company seeks to rebuild properties with more sustainable, environmentally friendly materials which can reduce the cost of energy and maintenance going forward.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Just like auto insurance, homeowners insurance comes as a package offering a variety of protections for various aspects of your property.
Your homeowners’ insurance should protect:
- Your dwelling, which is a term insurers use for your actual house.
- Other buildings on your property such as a detached garage or storage building.
- Your personal property such as furniture, electronics, and appliances.
- Your liability in case someone gets injured on your property.
- Your additional living expenses in case damage to your home requires you to move out for a while.
These protections seem straightforward enough at first glance, but when buying coverage, you’ll need to make sure you know exactly what your policy covers.
So let’s take a closer look at each area of coverage.
Your Dwelling Itself
Naturally, your homeowners policy will cover your house itself, along with attached structures such as a garage or attached tool shed. Your home warranty might cover additional options, if you have one.
When you think of home insurance, this coverage may first come to mind.
A typical policy will pay to repair or replace your dwelling if it’s damaged or destroyed by common perils such as:
- Vandalism and theft
- Falling objects such as tree limbs
- Damage from aircraft or other artificial falling objects
- Wind damage
- Lightning strikes
- Damage from a volcanic eruption
- Fire and smoke
- Water damage from appliances (but probably not floods; more on this later)
- Being struck by a car
If these sorts of mishaps damaged or destroyed your home, you could file a claim with your homeowners policy.
Depending on your coverage amount, your deductible, and other important policy details that we’ll get into below, your insurance company would help get you back on your feet again.
Other Structures on Your Property
Your homeowners policy includes coverage for detached buildings on your property, too, such as:
- A detached garage
- A pool house
- A storage shed
- A detached apartment
- An in-ground pool
- Even a fence.
Generally speaking, your coverage for these structures will be set as a percentage of your dwelling coverage.
If you need more than that — say you have a detached apartment behind your home — check with your insurer about increasing that aspect of your coverage.
Insurers consider stuff in your home that can be removed personal property, and your homeowners policy should protect these items, too.
It makes sense: If smoke or fire, for example, damage your walls and roof, it would probably destroy some furniture and electronics, too.
Likewise, a thief who breaks a window probably won’t stop there. He’ll steal some of your stuff after gaining access to your home.
Of course, you’ll need to prove that you owned the personal property, so it’s important to have an up-to-date inventory.
We’ll get more into this later.
If your neighborhood postal carrier steps in a sinkhole in your front yard and sprains her knee, you could be held personally responsible for the resulting medical care or lost wages.
The same could be true if someone tripped over a loose paver or stepped on a rake during your fall barbecue.
Yes, your yard and home most likely won’t be the scene of a blooper reel, but accidents do happen, and the resulting injuries and medical bills would not be funny.
Your homeowners’ liability coverage should protect you from this kind of unexpected expense.
Additional Living Expenses
If the worst happened and you couldn’t live in your home — either because it had been damaged or destroyed — you’d need some way to pay for somewhere else to live.
Your homeowners policy should address this through Additional Living Expenses (or ALE) coverage.
Structures, liability, personal property, additional living expenses — your homeowners policy has a lot of work to do. It’s essential to set it up so it can best protect your investment.
Not all accidents result in a lawsuit. If a visitor were injured at your home and you wanted to make it right by paying the medical bills, some homeowners policies can help.
Most policies cap this kind of expense around $1,000, but you could opt for more coverage. Some insurers offer as much as $5,000 in coverage.
This coverage won’t pay for all kinds of medical expenses.
For example, if your friend caught the flu at your house and wanted your insurance to pay for the case of canned chicken soup he bought, that’s not going to happen.
It makes sense if you think about it from your insurer’s point of view: Could your friend really be certain she’d gotten the flu from your house?
Scrimping on Homeowners Coverage Can Cost You!
Most of us like to save money and stretch our resources, especially on recurring expenses such as insurance.
A word of caution, though: Sacrificing homeowners coverage to ease the monthly budget can become very expensive in the long run.
If a tree limb fell through your kitchen, for example, and you didn’t have enough coverage to repair the roof, the wall, the windows, and the appliances — along with any water damage that may have also resulted — you’d need to pick up the tab after the insurance coverage stopped paying.
Talk about a budget buster!
This isn’t to say you should simply max out your coverage any more than you should jump at the lowest levels of coverage you can find.
Instead, you should take the smart and efficient approach: Determine your actual needs and build a coverage plan to maximize the coverages you need while spending less on coverages you won’t be relying on as much.
For example, if you live alone in a small condo with no yard and you seldom entertain guests, you might not need to max out your liability coverage.
If several of your neighbors have had break-ins, though, you may want to invest more in personal belongings coverage.
To save money while protecting your dream, customize your coverage so you’re not paying for what you don’t need.
Deductibles and Maximums: The Real Cost of Homeowners Coverage
You can also relieve some pressure on your monthly budget by opting for a higher homeowners insurance deductible.
A $2,000 deductible, for example, would give you access to premiums that are noticeably lower than a policy with a $500 deductible. Rates vary from state to state, so you’d need to get actual quotes to see how much you could save.
Before buying such a policy, though, give the decision some thought and make sure such a policy works with your lifestyle.
With a $2,000 deductible on property damage insurance, you’d be responsible for the first $2,000 in repairs to your home. Which is fine if you can come up with that $2,000.
If you know you couldn’t come up with the deductible, though, you may want to pay a higher premium in exchange for a lower deductible.
Meeting your deductible unlocks the coverage that your monthly premiums pay for, so if you can’t meet your deductible, your homeowners policy won’t be as useful as you seek to protect your dream.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can also save money with a policy that places a lower cap on payouts when you file a claim.
You can save a lot in premiums this way, but once again, be careful. Limiting how much your coverage will pay could put your home, and even your other property, at risk.
If you have only $50,000 in liability coverage, for example, and you own assets worth $100,000, you’d be leaving your assets unprotected.
If someone was injured in your yard and successfully sued you for damages, the court could order your other assets sold to pay for what your insurance won’t cover.
Nobody expects terrible things to happen to their property. But bad things do happen — injuries, accidents, fires, dangerous weather.
Get a policy durable enough to help you weather the storm if the unexpected happens.
How Can I Get Cheaper Homeowners Insurance?
So far we’ve talked about how not to save money on homeowners insurance:
- Don’t opt for a higher deductible unless you can come up with the deductible.
- Don’t limit your coverage if it exposes your assets or can’t protect your investment.
Enough with the don’ts. Let’s get into how you can save on your coverage.
Compare Quotes with Gabi
One of the most crucial steps to finding affordable insurance is shopping for quotes.
If you’re shopping for homeowners, renters, condo, landlord, or auto insurance policies, Gabi should be at the top of your list.
Gabi is a free platform that provides home and auto insurance shoppers with quick rates from leading providers, showing them just how much they can save on their policies.
In a matter of minutes, you get access to up to twenty quotes and the option to switch your policy seamlessly.
Your only job is to upload or drop a link to your current insurance plan, without the fuss of filling out paperwork or tedious phone calls.
If you do need to chat with someone, though, Gabi’s expert team is only a text or call away.
Make Gabi your one-stop shop for home and auto insurance.
Look for Discounts
Chances are you already have another kind of insurance — auto, life, etc. If you’re happy with the company you’ve been dealing with, and if your existing insurer offers homeowners coverage, you may qualify for a multiple policy discount.
Lots of insurers give their best rates to existing customers.
Multiple policy discounts aren’t the only way to save. See if your employer or professional organization offers discounts on insurance.
And check with your insurer about whether installing a security system or completing certain kinds of renovations may save you some money on premiums.
Many insurers offer discounts for:
- Not smoking
- Getting a new roof
- Paying the policy up front in full
- Having a backup power generator
- Having a new (or newer) home.
Every insurance company has a different approach, so don’t expect to find each of these at every company.
Think Twice Before Filing a Claim
Yes, you pay insurance premiums so your policy will be there when you need it. But if you file too many claims, your insurer may increase your premiums.
It sounds counterproductive, but it’s still the reality: frequent fliers in the claims department often pay higher rates.
Changing insurance companies likely won’t protect you from this reality. If you move to another state and need a different insurer, the new company may access your claims history with your old company and charge higher premiums.
Let’s be clear: If you really need help from your insurance company, by all means, file a claim.
For example, if you have thousands of dollars worth of damage to your roof because of an ice storm, you’ll want to use your policy.
Or if someone breaks in and steals $10,000 worth of furniture, technology, or appliances, use your policy.
But if your washing machine leaks and you need to replace some floor tiles, consider paying that out of pocket.
Get Coverage that’s Just Right
If you needed a new pickup truck and never hauled anything more than your recycling or an occasional sofa for a friend, a mid-size pickup would probably do the job.
You probably wouldn’t go shopping for moving vans or tractor-trailers.
Yet that’s what happens sometimes with insurance. Shoppers opt for more coverage than they need which means they pay more than they need to.
For example, if your home could be re-built for $175,000, you might not need $350,000 in coverage for your dwelling. If you have $75,000 in assets, $200,000 in liability coverage may be more than you need.
We mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: To find great coverage at a great price, go through your policy section by section and figure out whether each kind of coverage adequately protects your investment without over-protecting it.
Think of it like a new raincoat.
You won’t stay dry in a coat three sizes too small. But if it’s three sizes too large, you can create a new set of problems.
How Do You Know How Much Coverage You Really Need?
Pickup trucks and raincoats are one thing. It’s easy to find the right sizes when you’re shopping for durable products.
Insurance is different, though, right? It’s abstract and invisible. It’s just numbers with some probably’s and maybe’s mixed in.
Yes, abstractions and variables come with the territory, but you can still determine an ideal coverage amount.
You’ll just need to interject some reality into all the hypotheticals. Let’s go through each component of a homeowners policy to explore this question some more.
At first, this question seems simple enough. You need enough coverage to fix or replace your home in case a fire or a tornado, or some other unforeseen disaster destroys it.
But how much money would that actually take? How can you find out?
Your local real estate market can give you an idea. So can your local tax assessor’s office. Your mortgage company may have yet another number in mind.
You can get your home’s value from any of those sources, but keep in mind:
- Realtors base your assessment on comparable recent home sales in your area which may not reflect some of the nuances of your property.
- The tax assessor’s office calculates the value based on a formula so it can levy property taxes.
- Your mortgage company calculates a home’s value to avoid lending more money than the house could likely sell for.
In other words, all of these assessments have their own goals which may or may not be aligned with your goal.
So, the first question to ask yourself is this: What would be my goal if my home were destroyed?
If you wanted only to pay off your mortgage, a policy the size of your mortgage debt would suffice, and this plan would keep your lender happy.
However, this approach will not protect your investment, only your lender’s. If your policy pays only your lender, you’d be losing the equity you’d built up in the home, not to mention all the sweat equity and all the possibilities you’d dreamed of.
To protect you and your mortgage company, you’ll need a policy strong enough to rebuild your home if it were destroyed.
Your rebuilding costs would depend a lot on where you live. Construction costs vary widely from state to state since they depend on local labor and material costs, weather conditions, and local building codes.
On average, Home Advisor estimates a cost of $150 per square foot. At that rate, a 2,000-square-foot home would cost about $300,000 to build. You’d spend a lot more for custom features or a lot less if you’re building a modular home.
You can get a general idea about your local costs using a site like this one.
It’s up to you to make these decisions and get homeowners dwelling coverage that will protect your future if tragedy rears its ugly head.
After a disaster is not the time to find out you didn’t have adequate coverage.
Detached Structures Coverage
A standard homeowners policy will provide coverage for detached structures such as your garage, pool house, gazebo, and other non-business related buildings.
Usually, your coverage for these structures adds up to 10 percent of the coverage on your dwelling.
If you have $300,000 in coverage for your house, for example, you’d have $30,000 in coverage for detached buildings.
If you need more than this standard level of coverage, ask your insurance company about boosting this part of your policy. A lot of insurance companies call this Coverage B.
However, if you use a detached building as an office or a pottery store or a farmers market, consider getting a separate, business policy. Your homeowners policy won’t be built to protect your business, especially when it comes to liability coverage as customers come and go.
Personal Property Coverage
Insurers tend to calculate this part of your coverage — which covers your personal belongings such as electronics, appliances, furniture, books, musical instruments, etc. — as a percentage of your dwelling coverage.
Standard policies usually set this coverage between 20- and 50-percent of your dwelling coverage.
You may want to lean toward the higher end of the coverage scale if you buy top-of-the-line appliances or electronics which would cost more to replace.
You can save money on premiums by lowering this coverage some if you don’t own as many valuable items.
Personal belongings coverage provides some of the most versatile protection in the insurance industry. It can even protect your stuff when it’s outside your home.
Still, the coverage has some limits that you’ll want to know about:
- Jewelry: Most policies cap payouts on stolen or damaged jewelry, so if you have a lot of expensive, irreplaceable jewelry in your home, ask an agent about additional or separate coverage to protect it.
- Collectibles: Standard coverage will also put a limit on payouts for collectible items such as rare figurines or baseball cards or a bottle of Cheval Blanc 1947 worth $135,000 or so. You’d need to address this coverage separately.
- Named vs. Open Peril: Some policies pay on claims resulting from perils specifically named in the policy; others take the opposite approach, covering all risks not excluded in the policy. This sounds like petty semantics, but you’d discover its importance when filing a claim.
Create an inventory of your stuff
Making an inventory of your personal belongings takes time and attention to detail.
But if someone broke in and stole your computers, appliances, or stereo and TV, an inventory would make it easier for your insurance company to pay your claim. The inventory may also make it easier for police to find your belongings.
You can create an inventory in several ways. Many people still take the pencil-and-paper approach, writing down serial numbers and model numbers for their valuables. Be sure to take pictures, too.
Keep the inventory in a safe place — a fire-proof safe, a safety deposit box at your bank, or at least in a locked file cabinet or desk drawer at your office.
Sound too complicated? Now you can find smartphone apps that make the process easier. Apps can store photos, serial numbers, and descriptions on the cloud so your data won’t evaporate if the worst happens.
Liability coverage protects you financially if a visitor gets injured on your property. It’s one of the more hypothetical aspects of your homeowners coverage, which makes it harder to gauge how much coverage to buy.
Anyone who’s been in a hospital and opened the bill knows you can rack up a five-figure balance in a hurry if an accident at your home required hospitalization.
Then, consider the legal fees if you get sued. Assuming a judge finds you liable, you’d be paying the plaintiff’s legal fees as well as your own.
A standard policy usually offers up to $100,000 in liability coverage, but you can increase that amount.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: Get enough liability coverage to match your personal assets.
Let’s say, for example, you have $150,000 worth of assets — whether it’s in the form of money in the bank, property you own, or investments is up to your imagination.
Let’s also say your dog is having a bad day. He bites your neighbor who came to the door to borrow a couple eggs.
If that weren’t bad enough, the bite gets infected and your neighbor spends a night in the hospital, then has a bad reaction to an antibiotic and has to be hospitalized again.
A couple of weeks later you get served papers. Your neighbor is seeking lost wages, medical bills, legal expenses, compensation for pain and suffering. You get the idea.
If your personal assets valued at $150,000 exceed your liability coverage of $100,000 this whole experience could cost you a third of your net worth.
Sure, this scenario doesn’t happen everyday, but life is not always predictable. You’ve probably worked hard for what you’ve earned. Insurance provides an efficient way to protect it, but only if you have the right amount.
Are you financially well off? Consider an umbrella
If you’ve done well with earning and saving and your personal wealth exceeds the limits of your homeowners liability coverage, consider an umbrella policy.
Such a policy could provide extra liability coverage for your home and auto liability policies.
Additional Living Expenses Coverage
Insurers also like to calculate additional living expenses (ALE) as a percentage of your dwelling or personal belongings coverage.
This coverage can help pay you back if you can’t live in your home because of an insured peril and you need to pay rent somewhere else for a while.
When you’re shopping for homeowners coverage, find out how the insurer you’re considering calculates this coverage.
Usually, your insurance company will want to make sure your temporary housing is comparable to your normal living conditions. If you live in a 3-bedroom ranch in the suburbs, for example, don’t expect your insurance company to put you up in a penthouse downtown.
However, you can submit receipts from restaurants or department stores to your insurance company as long as the expenses relate directly to your displacement from your home.
If you’re in a position to need your ALE coverage, you’d likely have an insurance adjuster available to answer specific questions about your reimbursements.
Read The Fine Print
Insurance policies include lots of it, and it can be tempting to skip right past some of the details.
Some of the linguistic distinctions contained in your policy may determine when certain aspects of your coverage apply or even whether the disaster you’ve just experienced is even covered.
It’s no fun to learn about these distinctions while filing a claim:
Replacement Value vs. Cash Value
If you filed a successful claim, your policy would pay out either the cash value or the replacement value of your personal property.
- Replacement value: With this kind of coverage, also known as market value, your insurer would compensate you the amount you’d need to replace your property.
- Cash value: With this coverage, the insurer would consider whether your property had depreciated and pay an amount that reflects the change in value.
Not a huge deal, right? Let’s consider a real-life example to see how this rule applies:
If you bought a 55-inch TV five years ago, for example, and someone broke in and stole it, a replacement value policy could pay for a new 55-inch TV.
A cash value policy would reimburse you the value of a 5-year-old TV, which may or may not be enough to buy a new model.
If it were just the TV, this distinction may not matter as much. However, if it’s all of your personal property — or your structure itself — the problem would grow exponentially.
Generally speaking, replacement value policies cost more and provide more value to you, the insured, than cash value policies.
Even if you have replacement value coverage, expect some give and take with your insurance adjuster after a covered disaster.
Many companies pay cash value first, then, after you’ve replaced your property, they will reimburse you the remainder of the replacement value.
To make things as simple as possible, keep an inventory of your items and keep receipts, especially for big-ticket items such as appliances and electronics.
It’s much harder to determine the exact replacement cost for an entire home if yours were destroyed by a hurricane or a fire.
For this reason, some insurers still use what’s called the 80/20 rule: If your coverage amount would pay for at least 80 percent of the rebuilding cost, the insurance company will cover the remaining costs.
Ironically, it’s also possible this distinction wouldn’t matter as much if you lost your entire home. It matters if you want to rebuild just where you left off.
But, after a total loss, you may also decide to invest the insurance payout somewhere else or to build a new place that suits your current needs.
Named Peril vs. Open Peril
This important distinction can have a direct impact on whether the disaster that destroyed or damaged your home qualifies for insurance coverage.
- Named peril policies cover only damage from the perils listed in your policy.
- Open peril policies cover all damages unless from perils specifically excluded in the policy.
Typically, a named peril policy costs less because it’s up to the insured to prove damages resulted from a covered peril.
Open peril — also known as all risk — policies cost more because they can potentially cover a wider range of damages.
Open peril policies do not cover everything, though. They typically exclude damages from perils such as:
- Nuclear disaster
- Government seizure
- Earthquakes or floods.
This means you’d likely need additional insurance policies to cover those sorts of damages or to ask your insurer to add riders or floaters to your policy that would also add more cost to your premiums.
If you live in a flood-prone area, you’ll need flood insurance separate from your homeowners policy.
2018 saw a number of catastrophic hurricanes, and the flooding damage from those storms devastated homes. A recent New York Times article commented on the uninsured damage done by Hurricane Florence, claiming that out of millions of homes at risk of flooding across North and South Carolina, only around 335,000 had flood insurance.
Floods can cause an incredible amount of damage to your property and your belongings, and you could be picking up the bill if you don’t purchase a separate policy. Luckily, many of the best homeowners insurance companies allow you to add flood insurance coverage with them, so you can approach the unexpected in 2021 with confidence.
Products that Don’t Protect Your Home
The insurance marketplace includes a wide variety of products, and a new homeowner can get a little confused about what kind of insurance they actually have.
For example, if you have a new mortgage, your lender may require you to buy private mortgage insurance, also called PMI. This coverage has nothing to do with protecting your property.
Instead, it simply protects your lender from losses if you were to stop paying on the loan.
As a new homeowner you’ll probably get lots of offers for mortgage life insurance. This is another product that will not protect your actual property from losses.
Instead, it could pay off your loan if you died. Maybe that’s something you’d like to consider, but just know it won’t repair or replace your property after a disaster.
Important Insurance Terms
As you close in on the right policy, you’ll come across some terms and codes — insurance-speak, so to speak. Here’s a glossary to help as you come across some of these terms:
HO-1: A basic homeowners policy that protects you from named perils but does not cover you against perils not named in the policy. Perils included in a HO-1 policy include:
- fire and lightning
- windstorms and hail
- riots and civil commotion
- glass (if it’s part of the home)
- volcanic eruptions.
HO-2: Another named-peril policy that includes everything in the HO-1 but also adds:
- damage from falling objects
- water damage from an accidental overflow of plumbing, HVAC or appliances
HO-3: This is one of the most common policies because it covers a broad range of perils. It does not cover earthquakes, floods, nuclear accidents, sinkholes, or landslides/mudslides. Just because a policy protects your dwelling from these perils doesn’t mean it will cover your personal belongings from the same perils. Check on this distinction before buying your coverage.
HO-4: Renters coverage.
HO-5: This coverage is very similar to HO-3. It’s more likely to cover your belongings from the same perils that apply to your dwelling coverage.
HO-6: Specially designed coverage for condo or co-op owners who need some dwelling coverage but whose personal property coverage takes precedence.
HO-8: This is particularly useful when covering a historic home whose cash value is significantly less than its replacement value. A home that’s too old to qualify for an HO-3 policy may benefit from an HO-8 form.
Protect The Downside With the Right Home Insurance Policy
There’s a reason homeownership and the American Dream are intertwined.
Owning your own home means you have a little slice of the country to call your own.
Keeping your property updated and looking great can add to your independence and personal wealth as the years go by.
Like any potential for reward, home ownership brings the potential for risk. Insurers call these risks perils.
Just remember: There’s no need to face all the perils alone. That’s why homeowners insurance exists.
We’d like to help.
We’ve worked with insurance companies for years and can help you find solid coverage, great rates, and ways to navigate the confusion. You can start by filling out the quote box on this page.
Whether it’s a new purchase or an ongoing labor of love, finding the right homeowners coverage means you can focus on what matters most: improving and enjoying your property.