By Diana T. Torres

Reviewing your homeowners policy with an agent is akin to scheduling annual appointments with your doctor. We schedule physicals to make sure we’re healthy. If you’ve never taken the time to review your homeowners insurance policy, how will you know whether it’s the right policy for you? In the event of a disaster, you could be left without the money to recover.

Familiarizing yourself with the language and understanding what your policy offers is imperative. Sitting down with your agent to go over the terms and conditions of your policy, places you in a better position to make changes if needed.

A standard homeowners policy includes four areas of coverage:

Structure: If your home is damaged or completely destroyed due to fire, windstorm or other perils (noted in your policy), according to the terms within your policy, your home can be repaired or rebuilt. Disasters that are not automatically covered under a homeowners insurance policy, such as earthquake, mudslide or flood, would only be covered through separate policies. 

Included with the main structure (your home), detached structures (garage) are also covered under a standard homeowners policy. Coverage for such structures is automatic and is about 10% of your home coverage, but additional coverage ican be purchased if needed.

Liability: This type of coverage protects from lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage to others, caused by you or family members (including pets). This coverage extends to any where in the world. The insurer would cover costs for defense in court (including court awards) up to the policy limit of coverage.

The limits for liability typically begin at about $300,000 (depending on location and company). Most homeowners extend their liability coverage by purchasing an umbrella policy, also known as excess liability, which provides additional coverage that normally includes libel and slander.

Liability under your homeowners policy also includes no-fault medical coverage for non family members who are injured on your property. Medical bills expenses are usually paid for an individual without a claim by the injured party. The coverage you can obtain is between $1,000 and $5,000.  

Personal Belongings: Everything inside your house and on your property (furniture, clothing, and other items) is covered under your homeowners policy for theft, fire, wind or other disasters. Typically this coverage provides from 50% to 75% of the amount of coverage on your home.

There is also a minimal amount of coverage provided under this coverage for jewelry. Generally, expensive jewelry, fine arts or heirlooms should be insured for their full value through a separate insurance policy.

Also included in property insurance are plant life, such as trees and shrubs. The coverage provided is against theft, fire, lightning, vandalism, explosion, or riot. They are NOT covered for wind or disease. Limits for these items are usually about $500 per item.

Additional Living Expenses: If your home is completely destroyed and unlivable (depending on the company) a certain percentage of the coverage on your home will extend for you and your family to live elsewhere while the claim is being processed.

As an added precaution, keep all important paper work regarding your home in a safe place protected against possible damage.

Ready to take a look at your homeowners policy? Contact us today at (203) 359-0880 and we’ll make sure you have the best insurance coverage for your home.