Homeowners Insurance FAQs

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Frequently asked questions about home insurance.

No matter how much care and attention you give to protecting, repairing, and maintaining your home inside and out, some threats to your property are simply out of your control. So, naturally, you want to know if your home, and all of the valuable things inside, may be protected by your homeowner’s insurance coverage if an unexpected event causes any damages. And, of course, the BayCoast Insurance team wants to help. The following are some of the most common coverage questions we receive about standard homeowners insurance coverage.

Will my homeowners insurance policy cover roof damage?

Repairing a roof that’s been damaged by a house fire, hurricane-strength winds, a lightning strike, or some other unpredictable event can be extremely costly. Not to mention how expensive it could be if you must fully replace a roof after a catastrophe. For this reason, it may give homeowners some peace of mind to know that a standard homeowners policy typically helps pay for the costs to repair or replace a roof if it is ravaged by a commonly covered event. However, there are times when an insurance company may not cover roof damage—if it’s caused by general wear and tear, for example—leaving a homeowner solely responsible for any related expenses. Learn what else your home insurance policy typically will and will not cover when it comes to roof damage.

If my pipes freeze and burst, will my homeowner’s policy cover the resulting damages?

Homes in the northeast are especially vulnerable to bursting pipes. In fact, during the winter months, frozen pipes that end up bursting are among the most common causes of significant property damage and home insurance claims. If the water in your pipes freezes, expands, and ultimately ruptures, as much as a couple of hundred gallons of water can spill into your home within a couple of hours, leading to extensive damage to your house and its contents.

While this situation might make a complete mess of your home, your homeowners insurance will typically cover the resulting damage. Whether you incur structural damage to your house, or your belongings get inundated with water, a standard home insurance policy should help cover the necessary repair and replacement costs. In addition, your policy should pay for professional clean-up services and the removal of water from your home.

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Many of us look forward to winter and enjoy activities like skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, and more. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to get away from the snow, ice, and sleet for a while by heading to a warmer climate. While you’re off enjoying a respite from the winter chill, remember that your home is not so lucky; it still must face winter’s toughest elements. Big problems can arise, especially with your plumbing, if you haven’t taken the proper safeguards before leaving your house for an extended period. Should your pipes freeze and burst because you didn’t take proper preventative measures, like keeping the heat on a low setting and opening vanities and cabinet doors so warm air can reach pipes under the sink, then your insurer could find you responsible for any resulting damages leaving you to pay costly repair bills.

Does my homeowners policy cover damage to my garage?

Not only is the answer typically “yes” to this question, but your home insurance policy should go well beyond simply reimbursing you for fixing any losses to your attached or detached garage. From fences to tool sheds and gazebos, to even your driveway and swimming pool, your standard home insurance policy generally includes coverage to help pay to repair or replace these structures if damaged as a result of a covered peril.

Other structures on your property are typically covered for the same perils as your home. So, if the coverage for the structure of your home includes protection against risks such as theft, fire, falling objects, and vandalism, your garage and other structures are also likely to be covered for these events as well. For example, if a tree falls on your detached garage, your policy should be designed to help pay for the repairs.

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Most standard homeowners policies limit coverage for these other structures to about 10% of the total amount of insurance coverage you have for your home’s structure, also called your Dwelling Coverage. For example, if the Dwelling Coverage for your home is $300,000, and your Other Structures coverage tops out at 10% of this amount, that means you’ll only have up to $30,000 to spend on repairs for all unattached structures on your property after a loss.

Is mold removal covered under my homeowners policy?

If mold in your home is the direct result of an event listed as covered in your homeowners policy, then your homeowners insurance will likely help cover the mold removal costs. However, mold found in coastal homes is not always the result of sudden or unexpected event. It can form and spread over time due to a constant or repeated seepage or leakage of water into a property or it can be the result of homeowner neglect or lack of regular upkeep. Find out whether your home insurance policy will or will not cover these types of mold situations.

Does my homeowners insurance include coverage for flood damage?

There are an endless number of perks to living along or near the South Coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. You’ve likely experienced beautiful beaches, picturesque scenery, fishing trips on the Atlantic, fresh seafood, and more. However, having a home in this area also brings with it many unique hazards, including severe weather patterns that pose a serious flood risk to your home all year round.

So, it’s no wonder that homeowners in this area want to know how much coverage their standard home insurance policy will provide if their home and belongings are damaged or destroyed by a flood event. It’s also why many people are surprised to learn that the answer to this question is: Your homeowners policy provides no coverage for flood damage at all. Instead, you need a special, separate insurance solution, flood insurance, to safeguard your home and your belongings from the potential ruin that extreme weather and subsequent rising water levels can cause.

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Some homeowners in this region know that their property is a designated high-risk flood zone and they’ve been required by their mortgage lender to secure flood insurance in addition to a homeowners policy. But for the rest of us, whose homes are not in an area defined as high risk, flood insurance may still be critical protection to invest in for many reasons. Not only do 20% of all flood claims come from homeowners with property in moderate to low flood risk areas, but the average flood claim over the past 10 years has surpassed $30,000. If you’re starting to think that flood insurance sounds like a practical safeguard to have, then don’t put off talking to your BayCoast Insurance professional. In most cases, a flood insurance policy carries a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect. Should a tropical storm, hurricane, or nor’easter hit during that time, and cause flooding in your home, you would most likely be left paying out-of-pocket to repair any related flood damage.

Does my coastal home need special insurance coverage?

Whether a home by the beach and ocean is your primary residence or a special place you and your family head on the weekends and during vacation periods, it’s undoubtedly a place you treasure. In addition, you likely see this coastal property as a valuable investment and thus have taken special measures to make sure it is protected from the unique elements of coastal living, like saltwater, sand, forceful wind gusts, dense rainfall, storm surges, rising tides, flooding, beach erosion, and more.

Because these perils can result in hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to your property and belongings, another critical step you should take to safeguard your coastal home is to enhance your standard home insurance policy in a variety of ways. From increasing the coverage limits in your current home insurance policy for damage caused by inclement weather, to making a separate, but wise, investment in flood and windstorm policies, there are many additional options that coastal homeowners should consider in order to ensure that their property is thoroughly covered.

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Recently, insurance providers have changed how they define what constitutes a coastal property, leaving many homeowners surprised to learn that their houses are now falling under this broad definition. Sure, if you have beachfront property, it should be evident that your home is going to be characterized as coastal property. However, if your home is farther away – a long walk from the ocean, for example, or even several miles away from a stretch of beach – some carriers may still consider your home coastal property. This would mean that you could be subject to higher deductibles or increased premiums, or both. In some cases, traditional insurance agencies are no longer willing to write coastal home insurance, making it challenging for coastal homeowners to renew their current policies and for new buyers to identify a quality carrier to insure what is seen as a high-risk property. For this reason, it’s critical to work with an experienced, local agent, like BayCoast Insurance, who can help you identify top insurance providers who offer affordable coastal insurance coverage designed for your specific circumstances.

How does the deductible in my homeowners policy work?

The deductible is the amount of money you will be responsible for paying out-of-pocket in the event your home or personal belongings are damaged or destroyed by a covered event. For example, a common threat to our New England homes is falling tree limbs – or a whole tree coming down for that matter – after a strong windstorm, snowstorm, or ice storm. Since falling objects, including a healthy tree that is knocked down by Mother Nature, is an insured peril, your standard home insurance policy should cover the resulting damages to your property, plus potentially pay for some or all of the removal of fallen branches or tree. However, it’s critical to know that you will be responsible for taking care of your deductible amount.

In most instances, your carrier will simply subtract your deductible amount from the claim payment. So, if you file a homeowners insurance claim for the damage caused by a fallen tree for $5,000, but you have a $500 deductible, once your claim is approved, your insurance provider should reimburse you in the amount of $4,500.

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When you purchase a homeowners insurance policy, you’ll generally have a choice of deductibles that typically range anywhere from $250 to $1,500 or higher. Deductibles are a mixed-bag for homeowners. On the one hand, selecting a higher home insurance deductible, say $1,500, is one way that you can manage the cost of your premium. However, while you may lower your insurance rates with a higher deductible, you are also taking on more financial risk. Should you ever experience a loss to your home and personal belongings due to a covered event, a higher deductible means that you will pay a lot more out of your own pocket to repair or replace items versus if you chose a deductible on the lower end. Before you make a snap decision and select a higher deductible to lower your premium, we recommend you discuss with your BayCoast Insurance professional how it might affect you – and your bank account – in the event of a loss.

What is the personal liability component of my homeowners insurance policy, and how much coverage should I have?

When you own a home, you are exposed to a variety of mishaps that could occur on your property any given day. Someone could slip on your icy walkway and injure themselves, or your dog might sneakily get out of your yard and bite a passerby, or, even more likely today, your child might lose control of their drone and fly it right through your neighbor’s glass patio doors. Situations like these are often beyond your control and difficult to predict if or when they will happen. For this reason, it is crucial to have sufficient personal liability coverage in your homeowners policy.

This essential coverage provides financial protection in the event you, a family member, or even a pet, are found responsible for injuring someone or damaging another person’s property. Personal liability coverage in a standard homeowners policy typically pays, up to your policy limits, for the cost of your legal defense fees, and any judgments against you or settlements.

So, how much of this important coverage should you have? Most standard home insurance policies provide a basic limit of liability of $300,000 for property damage or injury. But, before you simply settle on this amount, you and your insurance professional should evaluate your specific homeowner risks. If you have a swimming pool or hot tub, or you’re infamous for the great parties you host at your house, or you own a wily dog or teenager, you are putting yourself at greater risk for an incident that could lead to legal action. In these cases, you may want to consider getting a higher policy limit for your personal liability coverage. While this may increase your premium slightly, it is well worth it if you are better protected from the hundreds of thousands of dollars a lawsuit could cost you.

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For many homeowners, even increasing the policy limits of their homeowners personal liability coverage still isn’t broad enough protection for their current assets and potential streams of income and investments down the line. That’s why, at BayCoast Insurance, we talk to all our clients about the factors that make every person a target for an expensive lawsuit, including everyday activities that seem innocent, like driving your kids and their friends to the movies or posting on social media. An excellent solution for safeguarding yourself and your family from a variety of liability risks is an umbrella insurance policy. This option provides you with excess liability over and above the current limits that are written on not only your home insurance policy, but also your auto, boat, and RV policies. In addition, it offers protection for a covered loss that takes place anywhere in the world and against claims that may not be covered at all by any of your other policies. This type of comprehensive protection might sound like it would come with a big price tag, but umbrella insurance is extremely affordable – most homeowners’ needs can be met with a policy offering $1 to $5 million in coverage limits, for as little as $250 a year.

What is the personal property component of my homeowners policy, and should I have actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost (RC) coverage?

Your house really wouldn’t feel like much of a home without all of the things you’ve filled it with over the years. In the same vein, your homeowners policy really wouldn’t feel much like comprehensive insurance protection if it didn’t have Personal Property Coverage.

From your furniture and clothes, to kitchen appliances and electronics, to sports gear and lawncare equipment, the personal property component of your home insurance is there to help you replace these belongings if they are ruined or lost as a result of an insured event, like a fire or theft.

But this is only the start of understanding your Personal Property Coverage. Now, we will explain the difference between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Cost (RC) coverage and how which one you select can affect your personal property coverage.

Typically, a standard homeowners policy provides actual cash value coverage for your personal property. With ACV coverage, your insurance carrier should reimburse you for replacing belongings lost due to a covered peril. However, with an ACV policy, your carrier will only pay your claim less depreciation, which is the lost value of an item based on its age and wear and tear.

There could be a significant difference between the actual cash value of your damaged belongings and the cost of buying new and like items to replace them. This gap in dollars between what your insurance provider is reimbursing and what you need to spend on replacing all your family’s lost things with similar quality items may make it very difficult – and expensive – for you to recover after a catastrophic loss like a fire.

A better option for homeowners – and one that offers a bit more peace of mind – is a replacement cost (RC) coverage policy. With this type of coverage for your personal property, your insurance carrier should not deduct depreciation from your reimbursement, and you should be able to replace damaged belongings with new and like ones without having to dip into your own wallet.

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To make sure that the recovery and claims process goes as smoothly as possible after a loss, one of the simplest things you can do is to create a home inventory or, if you already have one, to keep it updated. In the aftermath of a disaster, it’s going to be very challenging for you to recall from memory every single thing that was in your attic, cabinets, closets, drawers, basement, garage, and more. Having this information at your fingertips in the event of a catastrophe is going to be a huge relief, and it will make the conversation with your insurance provider much easier. You can certainly record details of everything you own in a notebook, but you can also find a variety of apps out there that are designed specifically to make home inventory tracking even quicker, such as Sortly, Nest Egg, or My Stuff. In addition, we recommend that you keep receipts for items as you purchase them and take pictures of your belongings, especially the most valuable ones. Finally, it’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your home inventory details off-site, so consider giving the information to a relative or friend to store safely at their house.

What does scheduling my personal property mean and do any of my belongings require it?

Every standard homeowners insurance policy comes with some level of protection for your personal belongings such as furniture, appliances, clothes, electronics, and sports equipment. However, your personal property coverage does come with a limit that is typically determined as a percentage, ranging from 20 to 50% of the total insurance coverage you have on your home’s structure. Working with your insurance professional, you probably have selected an amount of Personal Property Coverage that would be sufficient to cover the costs to fully repair or replace most of your belongings if ruined by a covered loss.

That being said, if you own valuable or rare items, such as jewelry, stamp and coin collections, high-end cameras, fine art, sports memorabilia, or expensive musical instruments, then your standard homeowners policy may fall short in providing full coverage if these things are lost.

For example, it’s common for the standard home insurance policy to have a sublimit for stolen jewelry of about $1,500. This means if you own a jewelry item valued at $1,000, you’ll be covered in full should it be stolen, although you will have to pay your deductible first. But, if you lose a more expensive piece – say your $5,000 diamond engagement ring – under the coverage limits of your standard home insurance policy, you would only be reimbursed up to the $1,500 sublimit, minus any deductible. In this scenario, if you want to buy a comparable ring to replace the stolen one, then you are probably going to have to come up with several thousand dollars yourself.

This brings to light the benefit of scheduling any personal property you own that may have a stated sublimit in your homeowners policy. By listing out these specific items – which is called scheduling your personal property – your insurance carrier should reimburse you their full value in the event of a covered loss.

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While you can schedule many of the most valuable items in your household, there are a few things that you probably will not be able to get extra coverage for, including drones, phones, and sunglasses. In addition, while musical instruments can be scheduled, musical equipment, like a turntable, speakers, and a microphone, are not eligible for this coverage. Finally, you cannot schedule items that you use for your business on your home insurance policy. If you are just into photography as a hobby, then you can get additional coverage for your professional-style camera. But if being a wedding photographer is a side gig for you, then you will not be able to schedule your camera and other photography equipment. Instead, you should talk to your BayCoast Insurance agent about getting the proper small business insurance policy to cover any work-related equipment that you keep in your home.

Please contact us to receive our team’s personalized attention to your specific home insurance coverage inquiries, requests, and requirements. In addition to answering all your questions, we would be glad to review your current policy, help uncover any potential gaps in coverage, and make sure that you are getting the best quality, value, and benefits from your home insurance solutions.

Put our knowledge and experience to work for you by calling us today at 508.491.3100.