Homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. It is really all about protecting yourself financially if something unexpected happens to your home or possessions.
Homeowners insurance can cover things like:
- If your home was destroyed by fire or damaged by a natural disaster, you'd need money to repair or replace it.
- If a guest in your home is injured, liability protection and medical coverage help pay expenses.
- If you are a victim of theft and vandalism, it can reimburse you for your loss or pay for repairs.
- If you are still paying for your home, your lender will require insurance.
Condominium owners should have condo insurance, which helps pay to repair the unit and the owner’s belongings if stolen or damaged by certain perils, such as fire or vandalism. While your association will often have a policy in place, typically referred to as a homeowner’s association (HOA) policy, it leaves the interior of your home and your belongings without coverage. Before opting out of condo insurance, it’s important to ask your homeowner’s association what their HOA provides coverage for. This way you know what aspects of your property are and aren’t protected.
Condo insurance can cover the following:
- Your belongings
- Property damage
- Damage to someone else's property
- Personal liability if there are medical bills and legal expenses if someone is hurt at your home
- Living expenses incurred if you temorarily vacate your condo as a result of a covered losss
Renters insurance covers your possessions against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, and water damage from plumbing. Renters insurance pays the reasonable additional costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can't live in it due to a fire, severe storm or other insured disaster. It covers hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt. Renters insurance also covers your responsibility to other people injured at your home or elsewhere by you, a family member or your pet and pays legal defense costs if you are taken to court.
There's something you should know: Flood losses are not covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Floodwaters have the power to damage not only your home and sense of security, but also your financial future. How can you protect your most important investment in case of flooding?
- Option 1: Hope that you'll receive Federal disaster relief if a flood hits. Many people wrongly believe that the U.S. government will take care of all their financial needs if they suffer damage due to flooding. The truth is that Federal disaster assistance is only available if the President formally declares a disaster. Even if you do get disaster assistance, it's often a loan you have to repay, with interest, in addition to your mortgage loan that you still owe on the damaged property.
- Option 2: Buy flood insurance and stay protected no matter what. When disaster strikes, flood insurance policyholder claims are paid even if a disaster is not Federally declared. Flood insurance means you'll be reimbursed for all your covered losses. And unlike Federal aid, it never has to be repaid. In general, a policy does not take effect until 30 days after you purchase flood insurance. So, if the weather forecast announces a flood alert for your area and you go to purchase coverage, it's already too late. You will not be insured if you buy a policy a few days before a flood.
Personal Umbrella Insurance
Think of umbrella insurance as a blanket policy that adds another layer of coverage on top of your basic policies. When you’ve reached the limits on your home or auto insurance, your umbrella insurance then helps cover the remaining costs. Standard insurance policies do provide valuable protection. But, there is still a chance that you can become financially liable for a sum larger than what your policies will cover.
For instance, say you have a fire in your home, and it spreads to destroy your neighbor’s property. Does your home insurance policy include enough liability coverage to pay for the damages? Umbrella insurance can protect your assets if you are held liable for property damage or bodily injury. It can also help cover legal fees, false arrest, libel and slander. If you are sued and do not have enough coverage with your standard policies, all your assets are exposed. This can include your house, car, financial and retirement accounts, and future income.