This article covers Home Contents Insurance Coverage Rate Offers USA.
If you own a home, rent, or are thinking of buying a home, here are tips on how to ensure you have adequate coverage. It is vital to understand the importance of homeowner insurance so you have adequate coverage when you need it.
Homeowner Insurance is a Necessity
Homeowner insurance protects your assets in case of a loss. If you lose your home and your possessions in a covered catastrophe, the policy will cover at least part of the cost. It also protects you from being liable for accidents that happen on your property and damage to other properties.
How Much Coverage Do You Need?
Periodically updating the coverage on your home may help reduce the amount you pay out-of-pocket in case of a loss, or a claim. Different packages of insurance coverages are available for homeowners and renters. Coverage for specific events are listed in each coverage, and usually include events such as theft, fire, and windstorm. Most homeowner policies also include additional types of coverage for personal liability, property damage, medical payments and additional living expenses, which covers the cost of temporary housing in case the home becomes uninhabitable. Contents and personal property will also affect the cost of the coverage. Other items, such as a swimming pool, or a shed, will likely increase liability costs. If there is a mortgage on the home, the lender may require a certain amount of insurance coverage. You should add additional coverage for items such as jewelry, antiques, art collections, and other high-priced items.
Don’t Forget About the Deductible
A deductible is the amount of money paid out-of-pocket for each claim filed on your house and personal property. Generally, policies with higher deductibles are less expensive than policies with lower deductibles. However, it is important to feel comfortable with the amount of deductible you will have to pay in case of a claim.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
These are the valuation options for which you can insure your home. Insurance for replacement cost means your home is insured for the amount it would take to replace, rebuild, and repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, at today’s costs. Actual cash value means the amount needed to replace, rebuild, and repair your home and contents after depreciation. You may also insure over the home’s value, to allow for higher construction costs, so you may not have to pay out-of-pocket.
Find Out About Discounts and Credits
There are many different homeowner insurance discounts and credits offered at NYCM Insurance. This includes newer homes, added security/fire protections, renovator credit, and insuring both home and auto with us. Ask your agent about discounts and credits available for you and your home.
Read Your Policy
An insurance policy is a legal contract. Your responsibilities as a policy holder are included under the contract. You should also read the policy carefully so that you understand your home's coverage. Also remember to keep your policy documents in a safe and secure place.
Review Your Policy Every Year
Additions, remodeling, and home improvements will often add to the value of your home, possibly leaving you with inadequate coverage. Keep this in mind when making home improvements. Remember to review your policy every year to make sure that the coverage is up-to date.
When you deal with an insurance company on a claim where large dollars are at stake— it’s business. You’re not dealing with your “good neighbor”—you’re dealing with a company that’s in business to be profitable. Give your insurance company a chance to do the right thing, but don’t mistake a friendly adjuster for a friend. Adjusters are trained to control payouts by gaining your trust while being firm about dollars and cents. You’re probably overwhelmed by your losses and the insurance process. You’re not on a level playing field so take advantage of the free support and info that UP has to offer.
Report your claim promptly and read your policy
Get and read a complete and current copy of your policy as soon as possible. The page that states your name and address, policy number, dollar amounts of coverages and “endorsement” codes is called your “declarations page” (called a “dec” page). The policy will be hard to read and understand, but knowing what you’re covered for is a critical first step in the claim process. Only you can protect your rights.
If your agent or insurance company is dragging their feet, call the consumer services department at your state insurance regulator’s office and tell them you need immediate help. See our Basic Tips for contact information.
Start at your “dec” page and check the dollar amounts/limits for your Contents/Personal Property. In addition to the dollar amounts on the “dec” page, there may be limits explained in other parts of the policy for specific items, such as valuable papers, art work, computers, etc. You’ll need to do some math and piecing together to figure out what your policy limits actually are. Basic contents limits are generally set by the insurance company as a percentage of your dwelling coverage limits. Seventy percent is standard.
Check your limits for “scheduled” personal property items, (artwork, jewelry, valuables). Make sure the policy covers what you thought you bought and what the agent/insurer told you it would cover. Many homeowners who experience a total loss are underinsured, meaning they don’t have sufficient limits to cover the cost of replacing what they had. If you find you are underinsured, get educated on your options.
Get a three ring binder and get organized
Set up a section for your Dwelling loss, a section for your Contents loss/ inventory, and a section for your Loss of Use/Additional Living Expenses. Maintain a "CLAIM DIARY".
Take and keep detailed notes of all conversations with insurance company representatives (record their names, phone numbers, job titles and supervisor’s names). Confirm agreements, disputes and deadlines in writing via letter, fax or email. Print out and keep copies of emails. It may seem tedious to do this but keeping track of communications with your insurance company is really critical as you will probably have to deal with many different claim handlers.
Keep all receipts for temporary housing and items you replace and submit them to your insurer for reimbursement.
Don't get rushed into a quick settlement
Recognize that your claim may take longer to settle fairly than you’d anticipated. Lots of new terms and information will be thrown at you. It’s important to pace yourself, keep learning and get help when you need it. Don’t let insurance company adjusters rush you into a quick settlement.
The check they are offering may seem like a lot of money but could be far below what you are entitled to recover. It takes time to calculate what the insurance company owes you after a large loss. An adjuster who tries to rush you into a settlement may be trying to earn brownie points with the boss by underpaying and quickly closing your claim. He or she may also have figured out that you are underinsured,(your policy limits are too low to fully cover your losses). He or she may be hoping to avoid hassles by getting you to accept a fast check and sign a waiver that releases the insurer from any further obligation to pay your claim.
Read all checks and drafts on both sides before depositing or cashing them. Don’t accept any checks with words like “full” or “final” “settlement” printed on them.
Do not sign any “release” or “waiver” forms without getting advice from an experienced attorney. Your policy does not require you to sign away any legal rights in order to get paid fairly for a covered loss.
Never intentionally claim items you did not have
People often believe that they need to “pad” their claim in order to get a fair settlement. They feel their adjuster will lowball pricing so they “go high” by inflating the value, qualityorquantity of damaged or destroyed items to counter the lowballing. Innocent mistakes are very common on claim related inventories and forms and do not amount to insurance fraud. Insurance fraud (intentional misrepresentation) is a felony. Claiming items you did not have can jeopardize your entire claim and subject you to severe legal penalties. If your insurance adjuster or company believes you are substantially “padding” or inflating your claim the path to a fair and prompt settlement will be fraught with delays and obstacles.
Be polite but assertive to ensure that you recover a fair insurance settlement
Your insurance company cashed your premium payment checks in return for promising you three things: Peace of mind, Loss Reimbursement and Prompt Claim Service. Your contract with your insurer entitles you to all three of these things. Your rights under the contract are protected under the laws of your state.
Give your insurance company the chance to fulfill its promises and do right by you, but don’t be a pushover. Approach insurance company personnel with a positive and polite attitude, but be assertive.
Start with a positive attitude toward the adjusters assigned to your claim but always find out their supervisors’ name and contact info in case you need to go over their head.
Adjusters rotate after disasters so you’ll probably get assigned a string of people with varying levels of training and expertise. This can be very frustrating, and the best way to stay on track is to keep good notes in your claim diary of what’s been agreed to and what’s still being worked out.
Network, Network, Network
Seek out others who’ve navigated a major insurance claim settlement in the past or are working on one currently. Learn from them. Share information with them. Find out what they’re being told by insurance adjusters and claim professionals. Experience has clearly shown that united, educated policyholders get faster, fairer settlements. Networking and communicating with others who are recovering and insured with the same company as you are is extremely helpful. It’s a waste of time and energy to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to disaster recovery.
Learn about three terms that affect the amount of you contents claim recovery: A) Depreciation, B) Actual Cash Value ("ACV"), C) Replacement Cost ("RC")
A) “Depreciation” is the loss in value from all causes, including age, wear and tear.The “normal” contents claim process is: the claimant (with help from an adjuster) prepares a detailed list of every single damaged or destroyed item noting approximate age, value, and replacement cost.
The adjuster/insurer depreciates certain items to account for their age, and cuts a check for what’s called “ACTUAL CASH VALUE” (“ACV”) of the entire inventory. Once you replace items your insurer generally owes you the balance between the ACV and what it actually cost you to replace or repair, (subject always to your individual policy’s wording and limits).
B) ACV is the “old” price of an item as it was pre-loss, sometimes explained as the price a willing buyer would have paid you immediately before the event that caused your loss. Some policies limit payouts to “ACV” and that’s all they pay. If you’ve got an ACV policy, you’ll probably need to argue for less depreciation to be taken on major items, (see tip # 8 below), but once the check is cut, that’s all you’ll get, regardless of what it costs to actually replace what you had.
Most policies these days are “REPLACEMENT COST”, (“RC”) policies because they’re supposed to cover the cost of replacing what you’ve lost. To collect the full amount you’re entitled to under an RC policy, you have to actually replace the items and send the receipts to the insurer with a demand for the balance they owe you. Insurers don’t volunteer to pay — you insist.
C) RC is the “new” price of what it would cost to actually repair or replace a damaged or destroyed item.
8. Don't accept excessive depreciation of your property by the insurance company
Depreciation amounts are subjective and very negotiable. There is no uniform or legally binding schedule or set standard for how much insurers can depreciate the value of your personal property. Insurance adjusters use their own subjective views plus guidelines on depreciation provided by their employer. It is hard to pin down an adjuster on how they arrived at the values they put on your damaged or destroyed items. But these values impact your pocketbook so they are important to challenge if they are unfairly low. The lower the value an adjuster puts on your property — the less you will be reimbursed by your insurer.
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