Homeowner, Condo, Townhouse or Renter's insurance does more than protect your home and possessions. It also protects you, your family and your way of life. But not all coverage is created equal, so make sure you know what to expect when you go looking for a policy. This is a good place to start.
Dwelling. This is for damage to your house and outbuildings such as detached garages or sheds. Choose a policy with automatically increasing coverage, or do it yourself as your home's value goes up.
Personal Property. Covers household items such as furniture, clothing and appliances. If you have anything unusual or valuable, such as art or antiques, get a rider that specially covers those items.
Liability. Protects you from financial loss if found responsible for someone else's injury or property damage. You can typically get up to $1 million in coverage.
Medical payments. This covers medical payments for people injured on your property or injuries away from home you're responsible for. Such as your dog biting someone.
Loss of use. Covers living expenses if your home is not inhabitable during repairs. Typically this coverage provides up to 20% of the total your home is insured for, but you can get higher limits.
What's not covered?
Earthquake. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, or a home on a slab with pipes buried in the foundation, consider adding this.
Flooding. Water from above is covered in regular policies. Water from below is not. If you live in a potential flood area, look for extra coverage.
Landscaping. Even though landscaping adds to the beauty of your home, it's not covered for damage by wind or hail.
Termites. Yes, they can do a number on your home. But no, it's not covered.
Homeowner's Insurance Tips
A home's history may impact the price you pay for insurance. If the previous owners made a lot of claims, your new house may have been tagged as "high-risk." So you'll pay higher premiums - or maybe not be able to insure it at all. Be sure to check the claim history before buying.
Inventory valuables before there's a problem. Photos of the items taken in your home can help prove their existence. So be sure to keep the pictures in a safe place that you can access after a theft or fire.
You might be able to get a discount for some or all of the following: