Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance

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We Offer Homeowners Insurance Policies

Your home is your sanctuary. Most Americans also consider their home their most valuable investment, regardless if it is a house, condominium or apartment.

Since this is one of the largest investments you will ever make, make sure its protected! In addition to quality homeowners insurance, we offer you some good advice to help protect your home and family.

We have compiled some tips to help you prevent disasters at home.

Check out the pages below, where we discuss how much insurance you should have, and how to protect your home from fire and theft. We also offer some tips for preventing winter related problems. In addition we outline "ORDINANCE and LAW" coverage which, is one of the most important coverage many agents fail to include in your policies!

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Coverage Overview

This is the maximum amount the insurance will pay to rebuild your home. It should reflect the cost to rebuild an identical structure at today's cost of labor and materials and should include architect's fees and the cost of demolition and debris removal. Homeowners policies pay you cost new with no deduction for depreciation regardless of the age of your home.

This coverage is automatically included and covers detached buildings such as a garage or shed, fence, lampost, etc.

This is insurance for your personal property anywhere in the world subject to certain limitations. The standard policy insures your personal property at cost new less depreciation.

This coverage pays for your increased expenses as a result of a covered loss that renders your home unlivable until repairs are completed. Those expenses could be the cost of a hotel or apartment, meals out, and other necessary services over and above your normal expenses.

This is actually premises as well as personal liability. This protects you for unintended injuries or property damage suffered by non-residents of you home. It could range from a simple slip and fall at your residence to a dog bite caused by your pet, or to an sports injury you accidentally cause to someone away from your home.

Liability claims could include medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, death benefits, as well as legal costs.

This is a simple coverage that will pay medical costs incurred by a guest to your home for an injury they suffer while at your residence. This differs from Liability coverage in that the insurance company will pay those medical bills whether or not the injury is a result of your negligence.

Guaranteed or Limited Guaranteed Replacement Cost – Structure
If you suffer a large loss and the amount of insurance is less that the cost to repair/rebuild, Guaranteed or Extended Replacement Cost will pay more than your Dwelling amount of insurance.

Sometimes when catastrophies occur the cost of labor and/or materials can spike because of the increased demand.

The amount of covearge varies from one insurance company to the next with some companies offering unlimited Guaranteed Replacement Cost and other offering limited Guaranteed Replacement Cost which would provide an amount such as an additional 25% or 50% of your Dwelling.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost – Contents
This optional coverage waives depreciation on your personal property loss to provide coverage at today's cost new.

Valuable Articles
Valuable articles such as jewelry, silverware, antiques, furs, and collectibles should be specifically insured on what is commonly referred to as a floater or schedule. This will provide you with additional insurance that the standard homeowners coverage does not provide regardless of whether or not you carry Guaranteed Replacement Cost on your personal property.

Your Homeowner's Liability and Auto Liability protection should be supplemented by an Umbrella Liability policy. Umbrella Liability adds a million dollar limit of insurance for serious injuries or property damages you cause to others. Higher limits are available.

Ordinance or Law Coverage

Homeowners insurance does not cover the increased costs of repair or reconstruction to comply with current building codes. Ordinance or Law Coverage can be purchased in a specific amount to provide coverage for these increased costs.

The costs associated with complying to government standards are NOT COVERED under traditional insurance policies. They are specifically excluded under the exclusions & limitations portion of the policy.

If you were to ask 100 people if they had Ordinance or Law coverage, very few would be able to answer. The problem is that Ordinance or Law coverage is often overlooked, leaving you, the homeowner exposed to large, uncovered losses!

As your home or buildings age, your local building codes also change to reflect higher construction standards. If your property suffers a loss, you will be expected to repair it in compliance to the newer building codes. Simply replacing the house or building may not meet the building code.

As an example, your house was built in the early 1950's and the building code at the time of construction required a ground clearance of 5 feet and in 1990 the building code was changed to reflect a 10' clearance following a flood a few years earlier. In order for you to repair the structure, it would have to comply with the NEW code. Complying with the building code will require additional costs in the design and cost for labor and materials.

If the new laws are not complied with the inspector can stop construction and deem the house or building "uninhabitable" until the code is met.

The costs associated with complying to government standards are NOT COVERED under traditional insurance policies. They are specifically excluded under the exclusions & limitations portion of the policy.

Ordinance or Law coverage can alleviate this headache before it arises. If your town or local building codes have changed since you built or purchased your home, then we recommend you purchase this protection. It is in your best interest!

Do you have further questions about Ordinance or Law coverage?

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Reconstruction Cost

Explaining the replacement cost calculation for a home can pose a challenge, especially when meeting with a homeowner. We've provided answers to some of our commonly received questions below to help guide your conversations.

What is my home worth? Market Value versus Reconstruction Cost

Many homeowners equate the '"worth" of a home to its market value, especially if the home was a recent purchase. While market value is a valid calculation of a home's worth for buying and selling, it has little to do with the cost of rebuilding. The estimate you are providing is the amount to reconstruct the home at today's costs.

Why is reconstruction cost more expensive than new construction?

Rebuilding a home includes many factors and expenses not considered in new construction: Economies of Scale

It costs more for a contractor to build one home at a time because materials are not purchased in bulk. A single household item that matches the one that's been destroyed will nearly always cost more than if it had been part of a larger purchase.

Top-Down versus Bottom-Up

Repair work for a partially destroyed home is done from the top of the home down. This is more time consuming and labor-intensive.

Demolition and Debris Removal

This step is necessary before reconstruction can begin and adds to the total cost.

Use of Labor

When a builder constructs many homes at once, they can efficiently schedule labor for carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other workers. For a single rebuild, labor is not as efficient and contributes to higher costs.

Access to Worksite

Worksite access is easier for brand new construction. For reconstruction, obstacles such as neighboring homes, trees, lawns, fences and other landscaping prevent easy site access. This makes it difficult to transport materials and can drive up labor costs.

Building Code Changes

Changes to building codes may require costly updating, even for undamaged parts of a home. This could include updating wiring or other utilities and is costly, especially for older homes.

Natural Disasters

After a natural disaster, the costs of building materials and labor rise because of increased demand. Over the past 20 years, there has been a significant increase in the frequency and severity of weather events, resulting in a high number of losses that require repairs.

Protecting Undamaged Parts of the Home and Contents

Keeping a partially destroyed home from further damage until permanent repairs can be made adds to the overall cost. This could involve covering a damaged roof or holes in walls.

Specialized Labor is More Costly

Reconstruction is often completed by contractors who specialize in rebuilding as opposed to new construction contractors. Their specialized labor tends to be more expensive.

Replicating Old Construction Methods and Materials

A standard homeowners policy provides for replacement with like kind and quality, which means replicating a home as it stands today. In older homes, interior walls are often made of plaster instead of drywall and exterior brick walls are made of solid brick instead of modern brick veneer. Homes constructed prior to 1940 were built with full dimensional lumber, which is larger and more costly than typical modern lumber. Because of features and materials such as these, older homes, especially those built prior to 1940, cost more to replace. In addition, the rising cost of commodities contributes to higher reconstruction costs. For example, petroleum based materials such as shingles have increased in cost dramatically.