During my time as an insurance agent, I’ve realized I only hear about people’s homes three times: when they buy, when they have a claim, and when they sell.
When people first buy a house they are normally really excited to have a new home, and also know very little about the house they are about to purchase. None the less, they have to answer a large variety of questions, including if wiring is updated, the age of the roof, and much more. Basically, they have to know the house is a good investment for all parties.
The first home quote I ever did was my own. I had been working as an insurance agent for quite a few months before I bought my first house. During that time, I learned auto insurance. Then to train me in home insurance, I had to answer all the typical home quote questions.
And I knew very few of the answers. I responded with, “well I think I can find that on the website or inspection” or “well it was built in 2001 so I assume….” It’s typical. You get to know a house more when you live in it.
Once you’re done living in it, and you are selling, our conversation is short and straight forward, so no biggie there.
The only other time I tend to hear from people about their home insurance is claims (this excludes the occasional price increase call). A washing machine turned on before leaving for work overflowed, the shutoff valve didn’t function and provided a continually flow of water, flooding the house before the insured came back home. A hail storm caused damage to the roof and broke a window. Wind pulled down a gazebo. A customer backed into their garage door before it finished opening. There are so many possibilities.
There are so many possibilities of changes that can happen from the time before you close on a home until the claim happens. You may realize something you thought was updated actually isn’t. (If you discover old wiring in your home, let your agent know and have it checked out immediately to make sure you are safe and can get it updated). If you’re like me, you’ll decide to improve your home to fit your style and needs. This could mean adding an addition, or for some adding a swimming pool. These are all important things that make a difference in the coverage you need.
One of our customers purchased a trampoline. As soon as the company found out, they non-renewed the policy, as they don’t cover trampolines. Trampolines are a common exclusion, as diving boards and slides as well. Some dog breeds aren’t covered. The coverage and exclusions all depend on the policy – which is the main reason why you should always read your policy once you receive it.
Don’t be one of the 33% with unpaid claims due to unreported changes. Check out some of the possibilities below (not all inclusive) of times you need to call your home insurance agent.
People and Your Home
- You are married and haven’t added your spouse to your policy.
- A non-relative is living in your home.
- Your child recently moved out or left for college (and now needs a rental policy).
- Someone else is listed as an owner of your home (and isn’t already on the policy).
Changes to Property
- You added an addition to your home.
- You converted a garage or basement to living space.
- You added custom features or upgraded features in your home.
- You built or bought a new outdoor structure.
- You added a new garage.
- You installed a swimming pool.
- You purchased a trampoline.
- You need your basement to be covered for backup of sewer or subpump.
- You have moved and the home is sitting vacant.
- You started a home business.
- You babysit other people’s children in your home for money.
- You use over $1500 of your personal tools, equipment or inventory for work.
- You started earning money from a hobby.
Your Personal Property
- You have a moped, golf cart, ATV, snowmobile, boat, trailer, or other vehicle without a policy.
- You received jewelry valued over $500 per item or over $1500 for all items, or would like protection from theft, stones lost, or misplaced jewelry.
- You bought or now own over $2500 in guns and equipment you didn’t add theft coverage for.
- You purchased or inherited high valued items: special items, collections, coins, money, antiques, fine arts, grave markers, hearing aids, or over $2500 in silverware or furs.
- You need coverage for flood (never covered by homeowners insurance).
- You want coverage from earthquakes.
- You don’t carry life insurance, or what you carry is too low to pay final expenses and protect your family from unpaid debts, education expenses, and loss of your income.
- You purchased other real estate, land or business and haven’t added liability.
- Your assets increased and you are concerned about better protection from large lawsuits.
- You want protection for refrigerated products.
- You need identity theft restoration protection.
- You want coverage for removal of trees downed by wind or ice.
Keep in mind, something as simple as moving out of your home and not telling the company can change your coverage. If you’re not sure if something will affect your homeowners insurance coverage, please call your agent.
In case you missed them, here are links to Part One – Renter’s Insurance and Part Two – Auto Insurance.
“Front bay window” by Anne Fitten Glenn. Not modified. Flikr. CC BY 2.0