What should I know about homeowners insurance that gives me the most for my money?

Homeowners insurance can seem complicated at first, but armed with a little information, you can understand and appreciate its’ value. As with any insurance, you purchase it with the hopes that you’ll never need to cash in on it!

Most mortgage lenders require homeowners insurance; and many landlords are requiring their tenants to have some form of insurance, as well.

What Homeowners Insurance Policies Provide

A standard homeowners insurance policy will typically provide coverage for costs that are related to the following:

Interior & Exterior Damages: if the outside or inside of your home is damaged by fire, lightening, hurricanes or vandalism (as well as other covered disasters) your insurance provider will compensate you enough to repair the house or even completely rebuild it if necessary. Damages caused by floods, earthquakes or from poorly maintaining your home is not usually covered. These instances may be covered if you purchase additional riders or coverage options.

Damage or complete loss to personal belongings: Things like clothing, appliances and furniture, as well as other contents of your home are covered by homeowners insurance if they’re destroyed in an insured disaster. Most insurance companies will cover you for 50-70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. This means if you insure the home for $200,000 you would have around $140,000 in insurance coverage for the contents of your home. Make a list of everything in your home and their approximate values to see if you have enough homeowners insurance coverage.

Personal liability coverage for damage or injuries: If you or a family member (including your pets!) causes injury to another person, the insurance will cover those medical costs. This coverage also provides compensation if someone in your family damages someone elses belongings.

Hotel or house rental while repairs are made: if your house is destroyed, you will find this coverage to be your favorite coverage! While the home is uninhabitable and being repaired or rebuilt, your homeowners coverage would reimburse you for the amount you pay in house rent or hotels, meals at a restaurant and any other incidental costs incurred due to being unable to stay in your own home. Policies due impose strict daily limits as well as total limits for the amount of money they’ll provide for this coverage.

How Much Does Homeowners Insurance Cost?

In 2005, the average homeowners insurance coverage in the United States was around $760, annually. Premiums will vary based on how much coverage you choose to purchase, where you live, and the amount of liability protection you want to have.

Before choosing an insurance company, as with any insurance, you should do some comparison shopping and decide which company can offer you the best prices for the amount of coverage you wish to have.

Apartment renters insurance: How renters insurance works – Part 1

Renters often think that because the landlord has insurance on the home or apartment building, the possessions they have in the apartment are covered under this insurance. Many find out too late that this is not the case when some accident occurs and they lose everything. When you are renting, ask yourself if you have the finances needed to replace everything you have if the apartment is a complete loss.

Renters insurance offers the same type of coverage on personal possessions as that of homeowners’ insurance. If your apartment is broken into and some of your possessions are stolen, then the policy will cover the cost. The same thing applies if you have a fire in your apartment or if you incur a loss due to broken water pipes or a sewer problem. The damages to the apartment itself and the property will be covered under the landlord’s insurance and your renter’s insurance will take care of your personal property. You also need to have separate flood insurance as a separate clause in your policy.

Along with coverage for your personal property you also have liability coverage under renters insurance. This means that if a person is injured while in your apartment or when leaving, you could be sued for damages. With liability coverage, your insurance policy will pay for the medical expenses and if the case goes to court, the insurance company will also pay the judgement awarded by the court. Without such insurance in place, it would mean financial disaster for you and your future.

The cost of premiums for renters insurance is considerably less than that of homeowner’s insurance. When choosing a policy, you should always opt for replacement cost in the coverage of your personal possessions. Even though this is a little more expensive it will pay off in the end if you do need to make a claim to the insurance policy you will get enough money to replace what you have lost. This is because replacement cost means that you will get the current value of the possessions and what you paid for them when they were first purchased will not matter.

When there are several roommates in an apartment, each person does not need to have his/her own renters insurance. You should check with the insurance company about this, but it is best if all roommates are listed on one policy. This may pose a problem though if the living arrangements are temporary.

There are limits listed in a renters insurance policy as to how much money will be paid in case of a claim. Read over these limits carefully to make sure that you do have enough coverage and ask that it be raised, but you may have to pay extra for this. For example, if your policy allows for $2000 for the theft of firearms and the firearms that you own are worth more than this, you will need to have additional coverage.

The policy you have in place for renting covers you for the term of the policy, which is usually a year, no matter where you are. You can be on vacation for most of the year and still have coverage in place on your apartment.

Ways to save on your renters insurance – Part 1

Many people who rent their homes assume that either the rental company or landlord has insurance that will protect their belongings, or that they don’t own enough valuable “stuff” to bother with renter’s insurance. But the property owner’s insurance covers the property, not your possessions, and if you took the time to figure out how much it would cost to replace what you own, it is clear that renter’s insurance is a necessity. Here are some ways to save money, but still protect yourself.

There is a good chance that the company you use for other insurance will offer you a good deal to include renter’s insurance in a package deal, so check with them first. But once you know what your auto or life insurance provider will offer you, shop around. It is so easy now to use the internet to get quotes and estimates from several companies, and you can find some good deals that you never would have known were out there. Also consider finding group coverage, through an alumni association, club membership, or employer.

You also need to take steps to minimize your risks. You should have one anyway, but if you don’t have a smoke alarm, get one. Having other fire protection devices, like a fire extinguisher or a sprinkler system, can also reduce your premiums. Most insurance providers are also looking to see if you have a deadbolt lock on all your doors, as well as secure windows with locks, to prevent break-ins. Installing a security system, especially one that directly alerts the police, can save you quite a bit of money on renter’s insurance. You will need to decide how at risk you are for a burglary, to decide whether the money you will save on insurance is worth the money you will pay for a security system.

There are some other quick tips to keep in mind. Remember to mention to your insurance provider if there are no smokers living in the home, as smoking increases the risk of fire. And your credit rating will also be taken into consideration. Not only does a good credit rating suggest you will pay your premium every month, but someone who is careful paying their bills will be more likely to be careful with other things, like locking the door and keeping the curtains away from the decorative candles!

If you do your homework, you can get a very affordable renter’s insurance policy to protect your belongings.

Why you should have renters insurance – Part 2

First Apartment? Think: Renter’s Insurance

Maybe you spent your college days (or college haze) in a dorm or a frat house. Perhaps you did rent an apartment with ten of your closest friends. But now you have your first “real” apartment. You may be renting alone or with a room mate or two, and getting up each day for your first nine-to-five job. If you are renting, the apartment or house is all your landlords concern, right?

Well, mostly. The actual physical apartment or house is your landlord’s responsibility to repair and insure against damage. But your land lord is under no obligation to protect your possessions. Until you moved in, you may not have owned much minimal furniture, a few consumer electronics, nothing major. Forget for now your computer, cell, MP3 player, and Wii. Take a minute and ask yourself, “If I had to replace every piece of clothing I own, how much would it cost?” If the answer is more than I can afford, consider what the replacement cost would be if you add all your gadgets back into the equations.

In 2007, there were 414,000 residential structure fires in the United States according to the National Fire Protection Association. Of those, 98,500 were apartment building fires. Basically that boils down to 270 fires daily. Not every one is a total loss, but smoke and water damage from even a small fire can leave your stuff a wreck. That does not take into account the many damaged properties in the past year due to flood, hurricane and tornado. With global climate change a daily reality, extreme weather is adding to the risk for losing personal property. A renter’s insurance policy also protects against theft.

Placed against the risk, renter’s insurance is a fairly small investment for the piece of mind it buys. Most renters’ insurance policies fall into a category of “named peril” policies. Your renter’s policy will specifically state what types of loss it will protect. Some common included perils are:

~ Fire

~ Lightning

~ Smoke

~ Windstorm

~ Theft

~ Vandalism

~ Accidental water discharge (sprinkler or broken pipes)

One nice side benefit is that the renter’s insurance policy also offers some umbrella liability protection. Believe it or not, if a burglar breaks into your apartment, trips and falls over you shoes and breaks his neck, in some states he can successfully sue you for personal injury. Most will also act as a personal liability umbrella policy if the lawsuit you face comes from some other source, like a motor vehicle accident or other personal injury suit from actions off the premises. The renter’s insurance policy will, in some instances, even cover your legal bills in that sort of case.

Another decent aspect of renter’s insurance is the price. Generally, a good policy costs less than $15.00 a month. If you use the same company as you use for your car insurance, you often can get an even better rate. With some car insurance companies, you can add on a renter’s policy for $1-$2 per month. Given the slight cost, cover yourself. You never know when life might catch you unaware.

Should you buy catastrophic health insurance? – Part 1

The answer depends on who you are.

Thanks genius, real helpful advice.

But wait, before you click the “Back” button on your browser, take a moment to recognize that buying or not buying catastrophic health coverage could be one of the most important financial decisions you ever make. Ask yourself, if I were to have a heart attack, or blow out a knee playing pick-up basketball, or if I were to get in a wreck on the way to the supermarket, how would I pay for the $30,000+ in medical care needed to make me better? Would you lose your home? Your savings? Maybe have to declare bankruptcy?

Catastrophic (or “major medical”) health coverage is designed to protect you and your family’s financial future should something terrible happen. But whether you should plunk down the premium needed to buy this coverage, really does depend on who you are.

So who should not buy catastrophic health coverage?

At the risk of losing a few readers, I will start by identifying people who should not buy catastrophic health coverage:

First, let’s cross off people who already have health insurance through their employer or the government. If you fall into this group, congratulations! There are more than 46 million of us who do not. That’s right, the most recent estimates show that more than 46 million Americans have no health coverage whatsoever . . . none.

Second, if you have some awful preexisting condition, like cancer, HIV, diabetes, heart disease, MS, etc., forget about catastrophic health coverage. Most plans specifically exclude coverage for care relating to these preexisting conditions. Your best bet is to find a reputable insurance agent who can help identify the least costly coverage options.

Third, if you a woman planning on having a child during the next few years, catastrophic health insurance probably is not for you. Virtually all catastrophic plans exclude coverage for maternity care.

Who should buy cat strophic health coverage?

Healthy people in their 20s or between the ages of 50-65 (i.e. before Medicare kicks in) are, by far, the most common groups who buy catastrophic health coverage. Why?

Because catastrophic health plans generally have high deductibles and low monthly premiums, they appeal to people who are healthy, and don’t want to pay for coverage they don’t need, or those who are just trying to bridge the gap before they are eligible for Medicare and either can’t afford or don’t want to pay for a more expensive

Why you should have renters insurance – Part 3

Anyone renting and/or occupying any type of dwelling, house, apartment, military barracks, they do not own or are not buying, needs to have a renters insurance policy. A common misconception is that if you’re renting your landlord’s policy will cover your personal belongings. This is seldom, if ever, the case. The landlord’s policy is going to cover the dwelling in case of loss and has no bearing on the renter. This is also true for individuals living in a military barracks or in a college dorm. You are responsible for your personal belongings. Uncertain whether you need renters insurance? Think about how much it would cost to replace all of your belongings if everything was destroyed. Can you afford to replace everything from your savings account? If not, you need renters insurance.

Renters insurance policies are basically simple to understand and are typically very inexpensive to purchase. You are purchasing insurance based on the cost of your possessions, nothing else. Most companies have policies which can be purchased for less than $200 per year, often as little as $10 or $12 a month. And like auto and other insurance policies can be paid for monthly. Probably the easiest way to pay for a renters policy is through automatic withdrawal from your checking account. If you have purchased your auto and renters policies from the same company, you typically receive a discount for having multiple lines (policies) with the same company. And you can set up one payment which pays for both policies.

What does a renters policy cover? It covers your personal possessions and those of your family members who live at the same location. This includes clothes, dishes, and other items that every person owns and uses. Some renters policies may cover a small amount of computer equipment, jewelry, and even collectibles. Be sure and check with your agent or company to understand exactly what is covered. Generally items like a substantial amount of computer equipment, including, programs can be covered with the purchase of a rider to the policy. Like the basic policy, riders are relatively inexpensive with the price being determined by the cost of the goods or value of the material being covered. Riders are available for computers, jewelry, antiques, collectibles, and most other high cost items that not everyone will have. Typically for a jewelry, antique, collectible, and some other riders you will need to have the items appraised. You will be required to find and pay the appraiser

Why you should have renters insurance – Part 4

“Renter’s insurance? No, I don’t need that. I don’t really have that much stuff’ and anyway, won’t my landlord’s policy cover what I do have?”

These are probably two of the biggest misconceptions regarding renter’s insurance. In today’s challenging economic environment, the financial burden of replacing personal belongings damaged by fire, wind, certain types of water damage, vandalism or theft can be significant, even in a one person household. And the landlord’s policy generally covers only the building and will not provide any coverage for personal property belonging to the individual tenants.

And for college students living either in dorms or in off-campus apartments; do you think you’re safe because you’re covered under your parents’ homeowner’s policy? Even here the answer is “maybe”. While it is true that most homeowner’s policies do provide some coverage for students away at school, the coverage is often for a very limited amount, such as 10% or less of the personal property limit that exists on the homeowner’s policy. So, if Mom and Dad have $50,000 in personal property coverage for their home, Junior will only have $5000 in coverage at college. In a dorm room, $5000 might be sufficient. But if Junior has an off-campus apartment, $5000 probably won’t go very far in the event of a total loss.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, about 57% of individuals renting apartments or homes are uninsured. When you take into consideration the fact that apartment buildings and rental homes may be older and not as well maintained as single family homes that are occupied by the owner, these uninsured tenants may well be in a very precarious situation. Electrical problems, older or faulty appliances and the smoking habits of neighboring tenants may increase the risk of fire. Outdated plumbing or poorly maintained basement apartments present prime opportunities for water damage. And certain areas of the country may be more prone to natural disasters such as tornados or hurricanes which almost always result in significant damage to property.

Most people have far greater amounts of personal property than they may realize. Don’t believe it? Consider doing a room-by-room inventory of everything you would have to replace if your apartment were destroyed by a fire or tornado for example.

Starting in the living room furniture, even the most Spartan apartment will have at least one sofa, table, chair, and lamp as well as rugs,

In college and living off campus: Should I get renters insurance? – Part 1

When you head off to college for the first time, you’ll be taking all sorts of valuable items with you. The Insurance Journal estimates that the average college student takes anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 worth of personal property with him. That laptop you’ll be using to take notes and write papers, your iPod, sound system and the bike you’ll use to get around campus are all susceptible to damage and theft. While you might think your possessions are safe in the house or apartment you’re renting, there are limitless unforeseeable scenarios that can play out. The worst part is, neither your landlord nor his homeowner’s insurance are under any obligation to reimburse you for any damage to your property. All it takes is one busted pipe when you’re in class, and you come home to a soggy and useless computer.

The good news is that you can get renter’s insurance that will either replace your property, or reimburse you for the cost of it. In fact, renter’s insurance is often one of the most affordable policies available. You’ll likely wind up paying less for renter’s insurance than you would for car insurance. Of course, one of the biggest factors in determining the cost of renter’s insurance is exactly what you want to insure. Luckily, the average college student has fewer possessions than say, your average married couple. This means you may wind up paying as low as $30-$50 per month for your renter’s insurance.

So what does renter’s insurance cover? There are seventeen scenarios under which your property will be protected. These include:

Fire or lightning. It happens, just look at Southern California.

Windstorm or hail.

Explosion.

Riot or civil commotion. These do occasionally happen in college towns.

Falling aircraft. Rare, yet sadly, not unheard of.

Smoke damage.

Vandalism.

Theft. There is a certain unscrupulous segment of the population that targets college students.

Damage by glass.

Volcanic eruption. Yikes.

Falling objects. This includes trees, which do occasionally fall over on houses.

Ice, snow or sleet causing a roof to collapse.

Water related damage from home utilities. Most often, this implies a broken pipe.

Electrical surge damage.

One of the main things to consider in all this is that your house or apartment may be in less than stellar condition. Some landlords who market to college students depend upon the navet of their target demographic. Not every student will think to inspect leaky pipes under the sink, or inquire about the condition of a house’s wiring. Nor should you have to. You should, however, consider the almost marginal cost of renter’s insurance compared to the security it can provide you.

So who should get renter’s insurance while in college and living off campus? I would recommend it to every student who owns anything more than a computer and an iPod. You’re going to have roommates, after all, and odd things beyond your control do tend to happen when you have roommates. However, if you pool your resources, you can easily split the cost of your renter’s insurances among yourselves, and enjoy some peace of mind. Chances are, it’ll be less than the cost of that satellite TV subscription you were going to buy.

Should you buy catastrophic health insurance?

Catastrophic insurance is great for people who don’t need to visit the doctor regularly but want to be covered in case of an emergency.

People who have a low regular coverage policy also could benefit from this policy, once again if the person is not in need of regular visits to the doctor.

People with pre-existing conditions such as AIDS, heart diesease, diabetes, emphysema are not accepted in this kind of policy.

WHO BUYS CATASTROPHIC HEALTH INSURANCE?

Healthy young people in their 20’s, as a precaution of a sudden emergency.

Healthy Adults in their 50’s and 60’s who want to protect themselves financially in case of a major need, such as a stroke, heart attack, cancer.

WHAT DOES IT COVER?

Hospital stay

X-Rays

Surgical

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Monthly payments can be as low as $26 a month, for lets say a female who does not smoke.

Yet the deductibles are pretty high: $250, $500, depending on the company and it can go up to thousands.

Many policies offer a lifetime payment cap. This means that you can pay somewhere between $1 million to $3 million, that depends on your choice, and then you will be covered for life and will not be required to pay for any other medical attention you may need.

WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE?

People who already have a condition, people with high risk jobs or hobbies: truckers, motorcycle riders, scuba divers, etc.

Ways to save on your renters insurance

It’s a good idea to consider purchasing renter’s insurance when you rent a house or an apartment. Many people don’t consider, or even realize, that a landlord only has insurance for the building itself. This does not include coverage for all your belongings such as your television, computer, DVD player, clothes, jewelry, furniture and other valuable possessions.

In the event of a fire, or if something is stolen or damaged, all of your belongings are lost if you don’t have renter’s insurance. You can easily realize the value of purchasing rental insurance once you understand what your landlord will and won’t cover. The good news is renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive; there are many ways to save on your renter’s insurance.

Shopping around is the most important action you can take for saving on renter’s insurance. Start by comparing the quotes of different companies and find out which one is the most suitable for you. Insurers are likely to give you a reduction if you have several insurance policies, such as a car policy, by the same company. Also if you opt for automatic payments, this will reduce your expenses. You can do this by allowing your insurer to directly withdraw your monthly payments from your bank account; this will reduce your bill by dollars each month.

Online shopping can save you money and is often the fastest way to compare rates. There are even insurance comparison websites that give the possibility to compare renter insurance quotes of different companies. If you fill in the necessary information, the site gives you a calculation about of the premium in several companies, and often you’ll see some of the differences are higher than you expect. It is not unusual to save more than 40% on your renter’s insurance by exploring the different rates through comparison shopping.

Raising the deductibles of your renter’s insurance will give you a high savings. A large deductible will prevent you for using your renter’s insurance for small claims, and this approach saves you money in premiums. Most insurance companies add a surcharge from 10 to 75% which is dependent on the quantity of claims during a certain time period. When you raise your deductibles to a higher amount you can save a higher percentage on your premium, but be sure you can afford to pay the higher deductible if something were to happen. Carefully consider the consequences of this decision because if the deductible is into your savings, the premium can lead to