Your home is probably your most valuable asset. It is also a huge risk for you financially. What if something happens to it? A fire? A flood? Vandalism? Will your insurance policy actually pay for the damage? Will it pay for ALL of it?
What if someone visiting you slips and falls and suffers a serious injury? And sues you? An accident like that could put a dent — or worse — in your financial security.
For most people, insurance is a mystery. They know they need to have insurance for their homes (mortgage lenders require it), but they don’t understand the protection provided by the policy. And, more importantly, they don’t understand what their policy does NOT cover and what to do about that.
All homeowner’s insurance is not created equal. In fact, almost none of it is. There are thousands of different products out there, from hundreds of insurance companies. And your policy includes literally dozens of options and decisions you must make that determine how much insurance protection you actually have. Your home policy is not a commodity. It’s something tailored specifically to your needs and desires.
What you will learn:
- How your home may not be fully rebuilt – even though you have insurance!
- 11 ways to save money on your home insurance – including how to catch your insurer automatically increasing your premium every year
- SIX primary kinds of insurance in your home insurance policy? Yes…and the right decision for each one
- The secret to brushing off a lawsuit
- How your jewelry and other personal property are NOT covered – and what to do about it!
- Why what’s not covered is more important than what is
- And more!
Six Primary Coverages Provided By Your Home Policy
Your home policy protects you in six primary ways. You’ll find these listed on your policy’s “Declarations” page. Here’s what they mean to you.
The word Dwelling in your home policy essentially refers to your home itself. It includes attached structures, as well … like an attached garage. The Dwelling
Limit (or Amount of Insurance) stated on your Declarations page indicates the most the insurance company will pay to replace your home if it’s destroyed by a covered claim. Is it enough?
Warning: Don’t make the mistake of thinking your home is fully covered just because you have an insurance policy! You must make sure your Dwelling Limit is enough to rebuild your home. How?
Contact our office and one of our agents can run a replacement cost estimate that calculates the cost to rebuild your particular home. Be sure to adjust the amount of insurance for your dwelling appropriately. If you don’t you may not have enough insurance to replace your home if disaster strikes.
Note: Some policies include built-in protection above the stated Dwelling Limit – usually a percentage of the Dwelling – just in case the estimate is too low. Be sure to discuss this with us as an additional protection feature. It’s probably worth having.
The most common Other Structures are sheds, stand-alone garages (known as “detached” garages in insurance terms), barns, pool houses, etc. These structures are not directly attached to your home, the “dwelling”.
Other Structures have their own protection limit – the most your company will pay to rebuild them – as stated on your Declarations page. This limit will be significantly less than the dwelling limit … usually 10% – 20% of the dwelling
For most people that’s plenty of insurance for other structures. But not for everyone. You need to know what it would cost to rebuild or replace those structures if they’re destroyed. Discuss it with the licensed professionals in our office. You can buy more protection for your other structures if you need it.
Your personal property is all your stuff – furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, etc. It, too, has its own protection limit stated on your Declarations page. And, again, this amount is the most the insurance company will pay to replace your personal property.
Your personal property limit is usually 70% – 75% of your dwelling limit. However, you can adjust this upward if you need more protection, Discuss your options with us. We’re here to help!
Regardless of the protection limit for your personal property, there’s a very important question you must get answered. How is your property protected … on an “actual cash value” basis or a “replacement cost” basis? The difference is huge!
In very basic terms, if your property is protected on a replacement cost basis the insurance company will replace your old stuff with new stuff. For example, if your 5-year old TV is destroyed in a covered claim, the company will pay for a brand new TV. That’s a good deal for you.
But if your property is protected on actual cash value basis, an “allowance for depreciation” is applied to the cost of a new TV based on the age of your destroyed TV. The result is you get a settlement amount less than the cost of a new TV. To buy a new TV you’ll have to come up with the difference out of pocket. Not as good a deal for you.
Clearly, insuring your personal property on a replacement cost basis is much better protection than actual cash value. Sometimes it costs a bit more, but not always. Make sure you know how your policy works and check the price both ways. Make the right decision for you.
Loss of Use
If your home is badly damaged you won’t be able to live in it while it’s being fixed or replaced. That means you may have to pay rent somewhere while you’re also paying your mortgage. The Loss of Use coverage on your home policy pays those additional expenses for you.
Your Declarations page may state a dollar limit for this coverage, or it may state a time limit. If there is a dollar limit, this is the most the insurance company will pay for these expenses. If there’s a time limit, your insurance will pay all covered expenses regardless of the amount but only for the specified period.
Your liability coverage pays if someone sues you for their injuries due to a covered claim. When we think of such accidents we most commonly think of injuries that occur on your property – someone slips and falls, a dog bite, etc. However, the liability protection under your home policy extends beyond your property to your everyday life. For example, your home policy could also protect you if you knock someone over with a shopping cart at the grocery store
Liability insurance is all about protecting your assets from someone who sues you. So, you should have at least as much liability insurance as your financial worth. However, more than that may be prudent, and you should discuss your needs and risks thoroughly with a licensed agent in our office. Your current liability limit will be stated on your Declarations page.
Medical Payments to Others
This pays medical bills for a guest who is injured on your property or in another covered claim. The idea is to do the right thing for someone – pay their medical bills – and then hope they don’t sue you. This protection is inexpensive, but could save you major hassles by preventing a lawsuit.
It’s What’s NOT Covered That Will Hurt You
Imagine your home is damaged. You call your insurance agent to report the claim. And then you hear the worst news possible, “I’m sorry. That’s not covered by your policy.” Now, you have a real problem.
The unfortunate truth is no insurance policy covers you for everything that could possibly happen to you or your property. However, with a little bit of understanding you can make sure you have the protection you want … and make sure your claims get paid by the insurance company.
Beware: It’s Not Always Covered
Just because you have an insurance policy that doesn’t mean your home is covered for everything. Your home insurance policy doesn’t cover you against every “cause of loss”. What’s that? Fire is a cause of loss. High wind is a cause of loss. These are also known as “perils” in insurance terminology.
A standard home policy excludes many causes of loss. That is, it does NOT protect you from certain perils – like earthquake, flood and surface water, termite damage and many more. That means if your home is damaged by one of these excluded perils your policy will not respond. You have no insurance against them.
If you want insurance against some of these perils, you can buy it … like earthquake or flood insurance. However, some excluded perils are not insurable … like insect damage. Be sure to discuss your policy exclusions with an agent in our office and buy the protection you really need. Don’t be caught by surprise after the damage is done. It’s too late to buy insurance then.
Special Limits On Personal Property
As if your home policy wasn’t complicated enough already it includes “special limits” of protection for some of your personal property. A “special limit” reduces the protection specifically available for certain types of property.
Property subject to a special limit typically includes … property used for business … cash & coin collections … jewelry & furs … guns … silverware … and more.
Additionally, some of these special limits apply only if the property is lost or stolen – making things just a little more confusing.
For example, the standard home policy typically includes only $1,000 of protection for stolen jewelry. If your $2,500 diamond engagement ring is stolen you’ll get only $1,000 from the insurance company. Ouch! And, if the stone falls out of the ring and is lost, there may be NO coverage at all!
The bottom line is it’s very important you fully discuss these conditions and special limits with your agent and buy the protection you need. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a very nasty surprise … an unpaid claim!
Conducting Business At Home
WARNING! Your home policy has very strict limits and rules about business conducted at home. The protection offered by your policy is severely limited if your claim arises from business activities. Your business property has very little coverage. And in some cases you may have no liability protection at all.
This is not something to take lightly and just assume everything will be fine. Be sure to discuss your home business activities with a licensed agent in our office to make sure you’re still protected.
Other Exclusions and Options
The standard home policy excludes protection for many things. But then the insurance company gives you an opportunity to buy some of them back.
Additionally, you have the option of increasing protection where you personally need it.
There are literally dozens of optional coverages available in your home policy. Here are some of the more common options available to you.
Identity Theft – many home insurers now offer protection for Identity Theft in their home policies. This will help pay the expenses you incur to restore your identity if it’s stolen.
Water & Sewage Backup – the standard home policy excludes damage caused by a water or sewage system backup. You can buy this protection if you want it.
Ordinance & Law — pays the increased costs of repairing or rebuilding your home that are a result of changes in local building codes. For example, your home has single paned windows. After a loss, the local building department requires double-paned windows. This endorsement pays for the increased cost required by the new building code.
Packaged Endorsements – often times an insurance company will package the optional coverages people most commonly buy into a single endorsement. That means for a lower price you can get several optional coverages added to your policy.
There are many more optional coverage and exclusion buy-backs your agent can explain to you. Take a few moments to understand them and make good decisions about your protection.
Why Choose INSURANCEOLOGY?
It’s all about what we “Give” you and what you can count on and “Take” to the bank
We “give” you all the personalized attention you deserve. We want to understand what “your world” looks like so we can create a tailor-made plan that protects the things you value most and at a price that fits your budget.
We “give” you access to top-rated insurance carriers in Virginia. Carriers that are rock solid and have been around for over 165 years and can assure you of peace of mind when you need it most. Companies with total access to the things you need when you need them; direct claims access, direct customer support, payment options, websites and apps for people on the go, and the ability to handle and pay claims quickly.
We “give” world class customer service to our clients. With over thirty years of customer service experience and training from some of the largest corporate names in the world, providing our customers with the care and considerations they deserve is our top priority and greatest concern. Our agency thrives on repeat and referral business and without professional, timely, and efficient care our clients will not recommend our services to others.
We “give” you “all things insurance” as our brand and logo imply. With our many years of experience and the effort we have made to educate ourselves across every aspect of insurance, we can provide you with access to every type of insurance you may need. We might not have all the answers, but we can do the research and get you the answers you need. If there are products we don’t have, we can get them. If not, we can put you in touch with someone that does. With our personal relationships and network of insurance professionals in Virginia, no answer or resolution is too far away.
“Take” heart in knowing that we have done our homework and have learned everything we possible can about what’s important your world and what you want to protect; family, health, assets, or business. We want you to rest easy in knowing we care enough to ask the hard questions in order to protect the things you didn’t remember to ask about. Mark Twain said, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” As true as that is, we also uncover those things you didn’t know to ask about.
“Take” comfort in knowing that the insurance provider we place you with has the financial strength, track record, and resources to keep you on track to meet you goals as life happens. Life isn’t always easy and when it’s not, you need to the peace of mind of knowing it will be taken care of.
“Take” control or give it to us. Your customer service needs are at your fingertips. Our select portfolio of carriers has you covered when it comes to being able to access your coverage information, ID Cards, change requests, payments, and more. By providing you with insurance companies that have created world class websites and phone apps, you have immediate, 24/7 access to nearly anything you may need.
“Take” it to the bank. Not just the savings you may enjoy by allowing us to shop the competition for you, but also for the knowledge and experience that only years in the business can give. At Insuranceology, we are committed to continuing education through training and certification courses and to expanding our growing network of agency partners across the state of Virginia. As G.I. Joe would say, “Knowing is half the battle”.
High Insurance Carrier Expectations
Insurance Carrier Selection Criteria. We only do business with top rated companies.
- Strong online presence and web tools for our clients
- Mobile apps to meet the demand for instant access to ID Cards, reporting losses, and making payments or requesting changes while on the go
- Direct phone contact numbers for reporting claims and making payments
- Flexible payment methods and plans
- The ability to handle and pay any insurance claim
- Quick response times when a claim is reported
- AM Best ratings of “Excellent” or higher
Personal Insurance Coverage for Different Needs
On the right sidebar of this page, you will find links to a number of personal insurance resources. Click on any of the different personal insurance coverage categories to learn more about specific insurance issues and coverages. Please contact one of our insurance agents at Insuranceology for any assistance.
Chip Massey, President/CEO, of Insuranceology was a Farmers Insurance Agency Owner for 7 years and was a District Manager with American National and Farm Family Insurance Company for 4 years.
Chip was awarded Rookie of the Year for the State of Virginia by Farmers Insurance in 2008, was a Toppers Club qualifier, as well as was awarded the coveted “Blue Vase” for accomplishments in Life Insurance.
In his final year with American Nation, he earned the distinction of “Career Club.” Chip, and his wife of 32 years, are proud Grandparents of three, parents of three wonderful kids, and own and operate an Alpaca and horse boarding Ranch in Powhatan, VA.
Chip is also a Veteran of the US Army where he performed duties as an Air Traffic Controller and earned his Paratrooper Badge at Ft. Benning, GA. and supporedt the 82nd Air Calvary out of Ft. Bragg, N.C.
At Insuranceology, we serve all our clients with great care, but especially serve our active duty military and Veterans with the honor and respect they deserve.