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SIX QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR HOMEOWNERS COVERAGE

  1. Q  How much property coverage do you have?
    A. Your house should be insured for at least 80 percent of its value, not including the land.  If you have other structures on your property, such as a detached garage or a screen enclosure, see if they are covered.  Some companies will not insure screen enclosures.

Personal Property:  A guideline is to have personal property insured for about half of your home’s value, but you may need more if your furnishings are especially valuable.  Lower limits typically apply to jewelry, electronics, guns and business equipment unless you opt for extra coverage.

Loss of Use:  This is a standard policy feature that covers extra costs if you have to move out of your house while damages are repaired.

  1. Q. Is your coverage replacement cost or actual cash value?
    A. Replacement cost pays for a new roof if yours is blown away.  Actual cash value deducts depreciation based on the age of your roof,  For replacement coverage, your house generally must be insured for at least 80 percent of its value.  Some policies care capped at your policy limits, while others offer “extended” replacement, which will pay 20 to 15 percent above those limits if needed.  Even if you have replacement coverage on your house, your personal property may be insured for actual cash value.  If you don’t have replacement coverage, ask your agent how much more it would cost.
  2. Q. Which catastrophes are covered?
    A. All policies cover losses from fire, lightning, explosions, riots, smoke, sinkholes, vandalism, theft, volcanoes, and aircraft or vehicles crashing into your house. Many cover additional perils such as damages from falling  objects, freezing and burst water pipes. Most policies cover wind damage, including hurricane damage, but if you live in certain costal areas, you may have to buy separate wind damage policy from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to get coverage.  Policies typically exclude damages from flood, was, earthquakes and nuclear accidents. For flood coverage, you must buy a separate flood insurance policy.
  3. Q. Which catastrophes are covered?
    A. All policies cover losses from fire, lightning, explosions, riots, smoke, sinkholes, vandalism, theft, volcanoes, and aircraft or vehicles crashing into your house. Many cover additional perils such as damages from falling  objects, freezing and burst water pipes. Most policies cover wind damage, including hurricane damage, but if you live in certain costal areas, you may have to buy separate wind damage policy from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to get coverage.  Policies typically exclude damages from flood, was, earthquakes and nuclear accidents. For flood coverage, you must buy a separate flood insurance policy.
  4. Q. What are your liability limits?
    A. How much would your policy pay if someone is injured on your property?  Do you need more to protect your assets from curt judgments in case you are sued for damages?  Check for lower limits and exclusions for animal bites and injuries related to certain equipment such as trampolines, diving boards, watercraft and off-road vehicles.
  5. Q. How big is your deductible?
    A. Most polices have a $500 or $1,000 deductible for claims other than those related to hurricanes.  When the National Hurricane Center declares a hurricane watch or warning in Florida, the deductible for windstorm claims increases to 2 percent of the insured value for most polices in affected areas.  You could reduce your premium by increasing your deductible for non-hurricane claims.
  6. Q. What does renters insurance cover?
    A. It generally covers contents and living expense if your apartment or house is no longer livable.  (Your lease might not require your landlord to find you alternate housing.)