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HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE POLICY
The Need for homeowners insurance - Does it seem like your responsibilities never end? You have to look out for your family and property and for other people and their belongings too! You're also financially responsible to other parties such as banks, mortgage companies or other lenders. You're financially and legally responsible to other persons and property that you may accidentally damage or injure. Fulfilling these responsibilities require a solid understanding of the role played by insurance. It is critical that you be aware of what a homeowners insurance policy covers.
If you take a careful look at your homeowners insurance policy, you should find at least six different coverage sections. The names of the coverage's may vary by insurance company, but they typically are referred to as Dwelling, Other Structures, Personal Property, Loss of Use, Personal Liability and Medical Payments coverage's. These coverage's are usually presented as sections of the policy and are often labeled Coverage's A through F.
What Is Covered—Property
The homeowners insurance policy's first coverage section protects your house and any attached structures, such as garages, decks or fences. The typical policy covers your home when it is damaged by most common hazards (also referred to as perils or causes of loss) including fires or storms.
Coverage B—Other Structures
This coverage section protects structures that are not attached to the home, such as a detached garage, storage or utility shed, playground equipment and swimming pools.
Coverage C—Personal Property
This covers your possessions, whether they are at your home or away with you on vacation. Personal property is often covered on a named peril basis. This means that only the sources of loss listed in the policy section are covered. The coverage is also subject to limitations and exclusions. Types of property having significant value, such as jewelry, fine arts, collectibles, etc., may require special protection. Talk to your agent about scheduling (adding) coverage on a floater which broadens and extends coverage for higher value possessions.
Coverage under sections A and B is usually granted on either an actual cash value or a replacement cost basis. Actual cash value is defined as replacement cost minus depreciation. Replacement cost is the actual cost to replace the structure, regardless of depreciation. Check your policy to see which type of coverage you have. Coverage under section C is usually provided on an actual cash basis. However, your agent may be able to add replacement cost just like that found in Coverage A, to your possessions.
Coverage D—Loss of Use
This provides reimbursement for the cost of additional living expenses while your home is being repaired due to a covered cause of loss. Additional expenses normally include food, housing, and transportation. However, the expenses must exceed what your family normally incurs.
What Is Covered—Liability
Coverage E—Personal Liability
This section provides coverage if you are found legally liable for causing property damage or physical injury. Protection includes paying for your defense costs and any resulting judgment for covered incidents. Check with your agent for specific coverage's since certain incidents are excluded from coverage.
Coverage F—Medical Payments
This coverage provides immediate, rapid reimbursement for small injuries to guests in your home. This coverage does not apply to resident members of the family. For example, if your child and your neighbor's child are both slightly injured while playing and need to go to the emergency room, this coverage will pay for your neighbor's expenses but not for your own child.
Though a typical homeowner policy provides broad protection, there are some limitations in the form of deductibles, sub-limits and exclusions.
Deductibles are expressed in a flat dollar amount and apply to property coverage's. Their purpose is to help control an insurance company's loss expenses by requiring insured's to share in paying for each property loss. Generally, a range of deductibles is available and individuals who can afford higher deductibles may enjoy lower insurance premiums.
Sub-Limits are specific maximum amounts of coverage that apply to certain "classes" of property which are either highly susceptible to loss or damage and/or are higher-valued than most other items found in the home. Sub-limits commonly apply to money, securities, personal records, tickets, stamps, and precious metals (including coated or solid silver or gold ware). Sub-limits are also in the form of limited theft coverage for certain situations.
Exclusions may sometimes be covered by other policy forms or endorsements. Companies use exclusions because certain exposures to loss may be too great to cover under a standard policy, or simply too great for the company to consider insuring. If you have a need for protection against a cause of loss that is excluded on your policy, ask your agent whether your insurance company or another specialty insurer can provide the coverage. Remember that special, higher risk coverage's often carry high premiums.