WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
For most of us, our home is our biggest investment. Homeowners insurance protects you from financial loss to your home from a covered loss. It is important to know what's covered and what's not. This article deals with some common questions about homeowners insurance in Texas. This article concerns owner occupied dwellings. (If you are a renter, check our blog later on for information on renters insurance.)
Make sure you get and read your homeowners policy. If you're not sure about something, ask your agent. The discussion below concerns Texas homeowners policies only.
What types of property do Texas homeowners policies cover?
Most homeowners policies in Texas include the following coverages:
- Dwelling pays if your house is damaged or destroyed by a covered loss.
- Personal property pays if the items in your house (such as furniture, clothing, and appliances) are damaged, stolen, or destroyed.
- Other structures pays to repair or rebuild structures not attached to your house, such as detached garages, storage sheds, and fences.
- Loss of use pays your additional living expenses (housing, food, and other essential expenses) if you must temporarily move because of damage to your house from a covered loss. Your policy will pay either a percentage of the amount of your dwelling coverage (typically 10 to 20 percent) or for a specific period after the loss (such as 24 months).
- Personal liability pays to defend you in court against lawsuits and provides coverage if you are found legally responsible for someone else’s injury or property damage.
- Medical payments pays the medical bills of people hurt on your property. It might also pay for some injuries that happen away from your home, such as your dog biting someone at the park. A basic homeowners policy pays $500 in medical bills, but you may buy up to $5,000 in medical payments coverage
Remember, insurance companies may exclude coverage for certain losses. Even the most comprehensive all-risk policy will exclude certain types of damage.
Is your home and/or personal property covered for actual cash value, or replacement cost?
For a discussion on the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost, see our article Home Insurance - What is Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value.
What are the coverage limits on your Texas homeowners policy?
The policy declaration page will state the maximum amounts your insurance company is required to pay if your house and/or personal property is destroyed. Make sure you know what those limits are and if they are adequate. Additionally, certain types of property will have sub-limits listed within the homeowners insurance contract. Most policies place a small dollar limit amount for losses involving jewelry, watches, furs, money and securities and firearms. This list is not all inclusive. Make sure you read your policy so you are aware of what types of property have sub-limits and what those sub-limits are.
In some cases, the insurance company can increase the sub-limit for an additional premium or can schedule the valuable items individually for each item's full value. Ask your agent.
What perils are covered on your Texas homeowners policy?
Subject to the policy terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions, most homeowners policies cover damage caused by FIre and Lightning, Windstorm, Hail, Smoke, Explosion, Riot & Civil Commotion, damage caused by aircraft and vehicles, vandalism and theft. (Not all policies are the same, so make sure you read your policy.)
Additional perils may be added such as damage caused by sudden and accidental discharge of water, falling objects, collapse from weight of ice or snow, as well as sewer backup, and damage caused by plumbing leaks within your foundation. Make sure you read your policy to know which perils are covered.
Most policies do NOT cover (exclude) losses caused by:
|Termites, Insects, Rats & Mice
|Freezing pipes while your dwelling is unoccupied.
|Losses if your house is vacant for the number of days specified in your policy
|Wear and Tear and Maintenance
|Wind or hail damage to trees and shrubs
|Water damage resulting from continuous and repeated seepage
Other exclusions, conditions and limitations may apply. Make sure to read your policy.
Flood insurance is available on a separate policy written through the National Flood Insurance Program. Hemphill Insurance has access to this program. Call us at (817) 923-2001 for a flood insurance quote.
What is my deductible for a covered loss?
The deductible is typically listed as a dollar amount and a percentage. The deductible is the amount you must pay before the insurance company will pay. For example, if you have a claim for $5,000 and a deductible of $1,000, the insurance company will automatically deduct $1,000 from the amount it will pay you. In some cases you may have a different deductible amount depending on whether the loss is weather related or non-weather related. For more information on deductibles, see our article How much is my deductible on my homeowners insurance policy?
This article is only a very brief discussion of certain basic considerations regarding homeowners insurance. Each homeowners needs and circumstances are different, so make sure your agent understands those needs. Ask questions, and read your policy until you fully understand what's cover and what's not covered.
If you live in Fort Worth or the Greater North Texas region and would like to discuss your homeowners insurance, or obtain a free, no obligation quote, call us at (817) 923-2001 or visit our website at http://www.hemphillinsurance.com/.
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