Owning a home may be the American dream. But it’s also a mighty valuable asset, often filled with some expensive possessions, which you will want to protect in case of fire, theft, lawsuits and more.
Enter homeowner’s insurance, which is a type of property-casualty insurance. The property insurance covers your home and its contents. The casualty insurance protects against legal liability caused by injury to other people or damage to their property. Now, do you have enough coverage?
Grabbing An Umbrella Policy
If you’ve lived in your home for five years or more and haven’t reviewed your coverage, you may be underinsured against a major loss. It’s easy to fix this. First, read the coverage limits when your policy comes up for renewal each year. If it would be impossible to rebuild your house for the amount specified in the policy, call the insurance company and have the coverage increased. Since it may cost more to rebuild your home than its current market value, insure it for replacement cost. While the market value of your home includes the land, don’t include land in the replacement cost.
A yearly insurance check-up should also account for any major purchases or additions. If you have put in a new kitchen and appliances, added a room to your house or purchased a large home-entertainment system, you may want to increase your coverage. You may also want separate riders to cover expensive jewelry or artwork. But since the purpose of insurance is to prevent a financial disaster and to cover every small loss, consider whether you can afford to replace these items out-of-pocket.
All homeowner’s and auto policies come with liability coverage to protect against judgments arising from injury to others on your property or in an auto accident. But standard liability coverage, even if it’s $300,000 to $500,000, will not be enough to protect against a court judgment that could be $1 million or more. For this, you might want an “umbrella” or “excess liability” policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, you can typically buy a $1 million umbrella policy for about $150 to $300 a year. The next million will cost about $75 and about $50 for every million after that. The cost may be higher in large metropolitan areas. You will likely have to buy the umbrella policy from your existing homeowner’s or car insurance company.