Have you looked through your homeowner's insurance policy lately? If the answer is no, you may want to take a closer look.
Many Cincinnati area homeowners are learning this week, after 2 inches of rain, that their policy doesn't cover basement flooding.
Angie Hicks, founder of the consumer group Angie's List, says "Reviewing your homeowner's insurance policy at least once a year is a good idea. A lot of times people just let their homeowner's insurance go on auto pilot and they never review what it actually covers, the value of contents in their house until something goes wrong and potentially the consumer could be under insured."
Angie's list 10 tips to help homeowner's get proper coverage:
1. Annual review: When you get your renewal notice, talk to your agent about whether you need to adjust your coverage. Update your policy if you have added square feet, remodeled, bought expensive items like jewelry/artwork/electronics, added a pet, boat, changes in your household, etc. Determine whether you have adequate liability insurance to protect yourself if someone is injured on your property. Consider increasing your liability protection if you install a pool, etc.
2. Make sure you have Replacement Cost insurance: it covers the cost of replacing your home and is generally the policy for most homeowners. Your agent will evaluate your home and its contents and write a policy that would replace it at that value.
3 . Get specific. Find out what your policy says about storm, water, mold, wind and flood coverage. In the past 10 years, companies have increasingly changed the language about these specific items. Ask about adding specific endorsements if your agent or company doesn't offer the coverage you want.
4. Ask About Flood coverage. If you live in a low-lying area or one that is predisposed to flooding, purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.
5. Get loss of use coverage. Consider loss of use insurance to cover rent or hotel fees in the event your home is uninhabitable after a catastrophe. Experts recommend at least one year of coverage.
6. What's Your Claim Deadline? Check with your state's Department of Insurance for the statute of limitations for filing a claim, which can vary from one to two years.
7. Keep it Safe. Put important paperwork, especially policy information, in a fireproof/waterproof safe. Take photos and videos of everything in your home. Keep the originals in a safe-deposit box and send copies to relatives or friends across the country.
8. Ask around. Don't take an insurance adjuster's proof-of-loss statement as accurate. Instead, use at least three independent contractors' estimates as your starting point. The insurance company's initial payout is often drastically lower than what the work will require.
9. Get a Public adjuster. If you experience a sizable loss, consider hiring a public insurance adjuster who will file and submit your claim on your behalf. These adjusters often have years of experience on the private insurance side and work to get homeowners the best settlement possible. Their compensation is a percentage of your settlement. That percentage varies by state.
10. Take a Crash course. Familiarize yourself with what you are entitled to receive in the event of a loss. Ask your agent about his or her experience in handling a loss claim. An experienced agent should be able to not only detail what your policy will and will not cover, but be able to give you a good idea of what to expect if a claim takes place.
As always, don't waste your money.
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