1. Dwelling Value: This is Coverage A on your policy. It is an estimate of the cost to replace your dwelling. It is the most important figure on your policy as it determines your premium and directly affects claims settlement. It is important that you understand this figure and what it represents.
2. Limitations: Your policy has limitations. The coverage amounts listed on your Declarations Page (Coverages A – F) are the maximum benefit to be paid by your policy. There are limits on the total amount of personal property (Coverage C), and there are separate sub-limits on valuables, art and collectibles – jewelry, watches, furs, money, etc. that will have their own limitations for certain coverage types like theft, for instance. Other items include antiques, art, collections, rugs, musical instruments, etc. must be insured separately to cover their value. Water Damage, Mold and Mildew now have limitations due to excessive litigation. Flood and Earthquake are NOT covered under your homeowner insurance policy.
3. Animals, swimming pools and hot tubs: These are high-risk items for your Liability coverage (Coverage E on your declarations page). Trampolines are out of the question. Certain breeds of dogs are unacceptable to most insurance companies and ANY dog with a history of biting is unacceptable. Farm animals or exotic animals may or may not be acceptable to your company.
4. Your personal property contents: Documenting what you own in your home is imperative. We’re talking about all your stuff – clothes, linens, electronics, housewares, furniture, appliances, toys and everything else in your home. You will want to make a record of it. In the event of a loss, particularly a total loss of your home, it is surprising that people can’t remember what they owned. The record can be in writing or photo or video or dvd or a combination of written and visual. For larger or more valuable items make detailed notes of year, make, model and serial number. Clothes can be categorized in large groups of items. These records must be kept off premises - keep a copy at your office, at my office, in a safe deposit box or several copies at the homes of reliable friends or relatives.
5. Read your policy: There is no substitute for reading your policy. All limitations and restrictions are listed there. At least read the supplemental pages that list exclusions and restrictions and special limitations to your policy.
6. Home maintenance: The basic functioning elements of the house are the roof, exterior walls, plumbing, electrical and heat. These must be maintained in good order and updated to lessen the chance of an insurance claim. Insurance is not a substitute for properly maintaining a home and your acceptability to the insurance company depends in part on how well you maintain your home.
Steve Groton is a licensed Insurance Agent and Broker with 23 years experience in Automobile, Property, Commercial, Health and Life insurance. His agency in Pasadena specializes in personal service and low cost insurance. Phone number (626) 584-6303.
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