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HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE FEELS LIKE A “NECESSARY EVIL.” BUT IT DOES SERVE A SAINTTLY PURPOSE—TO PROTECT YOU. SINCE YOU HAVE TO PAY IT EVERY MONTH, THE TRICK IS TO PAY AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE FOR AS MUCH COVERAGE AS POSSIBLE. HERE’S WHAT TO LOOK FOR.

If you own a home free and clear, you are not required to have homeowners insurance (also called hazard insurance). But if you have a mortgage on the property, your lender will require you to carry it. Here’s how to get quotes to compare prices and coverage.

What is a homeowners insurance quote?

A quote is an estimate of the price you’ll pay for a policy. It’ll be given to you either as a yearly, 6-month, or monthly amount. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when looking at different quotes. 

A quote will be based on the size of home, location and likely replacement value of the home, condition you want to replace it to, how far it is from a fire house, etc. 

Each company uses its own formula to calculate house insurance quotes, so prices can vary widely. You boost your chances of finding the best rate when you compare homeowners insurance rates from several companies. Get at least three quotes! The rate and amount of coverage can vary by hundreds of dollars.

A quote is only an estimate at the time it’s given. The actual amount you’ll end up paying will not be determined until the policy is issued. It’s usually close to the quoted amount, though.

Who gives homeowners insurance? 

Many companies, including the companies that you might already be insuring your car with. Examples include USAA, Farmer’s, State Farm, Travelers, Wawanesa, Desjardins, Allstate, and many others. 

What do you get from having homeowners insurance? 

Protection in case of damage or loss. These amounts can vary! These are broad averages only. If you get three different quotes, you’ll begin to see what kind of coverages are available for your property and can compare. For instance, if two quotes are similar, but one offers $8,000 of additional living expenses in case of a claim, and the other offers only $6,000, then the first might be a better policy for you (if all other factors equal).

How your price can change…

In addition to the standard coverages shown above, you’ll also need to make choices when you compare home insurance quotes. These choices will affect your price, so make sure you use the same choices when comparing different policy quotes. 

Your deductible. This is the amount you pay out of pocket, before the insurer will pay anything per claim. It’s typically $500 to $2,000 per instance. Choosing a higher deductible will lower your monthly premium payment. If you choose a higher deductible, make sure you can afford to pay that deductible.

Earthquake, flood or windstorm coverage. Standard insurance doesn’t cover earthquake or flood damage, and windstorm coverage is limited in some hurricane-prone regions. If you live in an area affected by these risks, you may want to ask about optional coverage. Flood insurance is required for some properties in high-risk zones.

Replacement cost coverage for your belongings. Most standard homeowners insurance policies won’t pay to replace old items with new ones unless you choose this upgrade. You can ask for more coverage for your belongings (like computers, clothes, art pieces, dishes, etc.). 

Extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage for your home. Standard policies won’t pay more than your dwelling coverage limit to fix your house. Extended replacement cost coverage will pay out more if repairs require it, up to a specified limit, and guaranteed replacement cost coverage will pay the full cost.

How to get a homeowners insurance quote

You can call a local insurance agent or broker who can give you a quote. It’s often nice to talk to someone who specializes in insurance in your area. 

You can also contact insurance companies online and fill out their online quote request form. 

I prefer talking to an agent, because many of the items in the online forms are not applicable, and you’ll end up having questions. The live agent can help you faster, and often make suggestions you won’t get online. However, it might be wise to get at least one online quote, once you know what you want to be comparing.

KNOW SOMEONE WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING A HOME? PUT THEM IN TOUCH WITH US FOR HELP. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com