8 things first-time homebuyers should know about homeowners insurance
Sure, you're excited about getting a new home. Everything is new and shiny, and it's fun to plan and unpack and decorate and all that. But let's get serious for a second: have you made plans to protect your property with homeowners insurance?
Here are two quick facts to help set the stage if you're a new homeowner (or planning to become one):
- According to the Insurance Information Institute's 2021 Insurance Fact Book, about 93% of homeowners have home insurance.
- But, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, over half of U.S. homeowners don't carry enough insurance to replace their home and all of its contents in the case of a catastrophic loss.
Having homeowners insurance is a smart idea. Here's why.
Having homeowners insurance can mean the difference between experiencing a devastating loss and a manageable one. All it takes is one event to lose your home and, possibly, all your belongings — important papers, memories, furniture, everything. But, if you're protected by homeowners insurance, your loss may be able to be contained.
Let's look at 8 things to keep in mind about homeowners insurance:
- Homeowners insurance protects your home and other property
Typically, homeowners insurance policies cover everything from the outer structure of your home to all of the personal belongings inside. This can include replacement costs due to vandalism, theft, fire, weather-related disasters — think tornadoes, hurricanes, high winds, hail — and more. If that stuff is important to you, getting homeowner's insurance should be equally important.
- Homeowners insurance can provide a roof over your head
Most policy coverage provides for a temporary place to live while repairs to your home are being made. That includes rent or hotel costs, any additional mileage expenses incurred to commute to work or get the kids to school, all of your meals and the extra costs of internet and other utilities or the connect/disconnect fees at your damaged home. Some will even cover the expense of boarding your pets if necessary. Basically, any costs above and beyond normal that are needed to maintain a comparable standard of living following a covered loss should be reimbursable.
- Homeowners insurance protects your liability
Covering more than just physical property, some homeowner's policies can also protect you in the event of a lawsuit due to someone getting injured while on your property. For example, let's say you order takeout and a food delivery person gets hurt when they accidentally slip on your front porch, you could be held legally responsible. As part of your homeowners insurance policy, liability coverage can also help pay medical bills, legal fees and even cover some lost wages.
- Homeowners insurance can protect you even when you're on vacation
Leave an iPhone on the plane? Laptop stolen from your hotel room? They may be covered and reimbursable for replacement if you have homeowners insurance. Sure, travel insurance protects you from delays and disasters like rebooking hotels and airfare, but homeowners insurance can actually cover things like lost or stolen luggage. That's because it protects your personal property wherever they happen to be!
- Homeowners insurance may be cheaper if you live near a fire department
Fire is one of the biggest risks to homeowners because it moves quickly and can destroy a home in no time at all. But even smoke from smaller, contained fires permeate walls and furniture, requiring replacement. Homes near fire departments can cost less to insure, especially if the organization is a professional, rather than volunteer, fire department in a community with an adequate water supply. You might even pay less if your home is within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant!
- Homeowners insurance may not be dog-friendly
We love dogs, but some can make it harder to buy homeowners insurance. Many insurers refuse to sell to owners of specific breeds that have a history of biting, such as rottweilers and pit bulls. Other providers may limit the type of coverage dog owners can purchase. Rules vary by state, so be aware. In some communities, if you file a claim due to a dog bite, your insurer may charge you a higher premium, exclude any future damages related to the dog, or refuse to renew your policy.
- Homeowners insurance can protect your home equity
While making monthly mortgage payments increases the equity you have in your home, renovation projects can increase its value. Homeowners insurance can help you protect that equity, but you must update the policy to reflect improvements. Imagine you remodeled the kitchen but never alert your insurer: you may not be covered if it's later damaged by fire. And if contractors don't have adequate insurance — including general liability and workmans' comp — you could be sued if an employee or subcontractor is hurt on your property. Call your agent before renovating and ask if your policy needs updating.
- Homeowners insurance may be required by your lender
Working with a mortgage lender? Chances are that your loan officer will require a homeowners insurance policy before closing. It may not be required in every state, but most will demand proof of insurance. If you don't have one, they may offer to secure a policy for you and add the cost to your monthly payments, which could have you paying more than you could if you handled it on your own. Overall, getting homeowners insurance is the smart thing to do and it's affordable, so take it upon yourself to shop around.
No homeowners insurance? Please don't risk it.
If you're like the 70 million households in America who have homeowners insurance, you're probably in agreement that living without it is simply not worth the risk. Good thing that Movement has a division to meet your home insurance needs. Movement Insurance is not available in every state yet, but for areas we do practice in, we believe that every customer deserves special treatment.
- See if we operate in your state.
- Use our online quote form.
- We'll find the best coverage for the lowest price and deliver a quote to you within 24 hours.
If Movement Insurance doesn't cover your state — and you're not a homeowner yet — talk to one of Movement Mortgage's local loan officers. They will help you get pre-approved for a loan and will be happy to answer any questions about the importance of getting covered.