Searching for the right insurance for a new home can be both a rite of passage and a headache for new and experienced homeowners. From finding the lowest rates to determining the right level of coverage for your home, the process can a difficult but important one.
Despite the difficulties, area insurance agents are offering tips on how homeowners can save money while ensuring they are properly insured. Here are some tips on how to navigate the process of getting homeowner’s insurance.
How rates are determined
Insurance rates are determined using information on the home, including the materials that are used and how expensive it would be to rebuild, said Andy Faber, an agent with Phillips Insurance Agency. These systems include the cost to rebuild while also using other factors, such as location.
“What happens with a homeowner’s policy is you give the agent information on your home, then they use a system to determine the value,” Faber said.
With the local growth the region has seen in recent years, Faber said the cost of building has seen some increases, leading to an increase in the cost to rebuild and an increase in rates each year. These increases have not been as significant with renter’s insurance policies or policies that only cover belongings and not the structure itself.
While many insurance companies use the same systems to determine rates, each company will adjust based on company-specific criteria. Likewise, some companies specialize in the type of policies they focus on, leading to some savings for policies that fall within that specialty. As an example, some companies specialize on country and rural policies while others almost exclusively work properties within a city, Faber said.
One way customers can ensure the best rate is to simply shop around and compare rates before deciding on a policy. By doing this, Faber said homeowners can potentially find an agency that fits their type of property and location.
However, in many cases agents actively work to give their customers the best rates they can through their agency as a way to maintain business.
“Ultimately, they want to keep your business,” Faber said.
More information is better
When determining the amount of coverage to get, Faber said the more information you give an agent, the better they will be able to offer you a rate that fits your needs. This can include the value of certain items while also determining what items need to be considered.
As an example, Faber said some homeowners might not consider the value of a barn in the rear of a property or the new $50,000 tractor inside of it. Faber said it is important to have a determined value on some of these objects when going into the process, as it can be used in the event of a claim. For example, a coin collection may be simply taken at face value unless it has been professionally valued.
“So many times people come in telling us what they think is enough, but it isn’t,” Faber said.
One aspect of insuring a home that is often forgotten is the need for flood insurance, which is separate from the main policy, Faber said. Many times the topic of flood insurance arises during the process of acquiring a mortgage, when a flood tier for the property is determined.
These policies will cover groundwater that enters a home, including from heavy rains or flood run-off. Man-made sources of water, such as a burst pipe, would not fall under flood insurance and would be covered by most policies, Faber said.