How To Choose Homeowners Insurance

WRITTEN BY: Mark Romero


Securing appropriate homeowners insurance is vital for safeguarding your home and financial stability. To make an informed decision, it’s essential to understand how to choose homeowners insurance that meets your specific needs and requirements. Learn how to review home insurance quotes and coverage so you find coverage that fits your needs.

Understanding homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance protects your home and belongings from risks. It covers property damage, liability, and living expenses. 

Each policy has different coverages, including dwelling coverage, which safeguards your home’s structure, and liability coverage, which provides financial protection in case of injuries. In this section, we’ll review how policies work and what standard policies cover to help you choose homeowners insurance.

How does homeowners insurance work?

Homeowners insurance works by paying regular premiums in exchange for coverage. Premiums are determined based on factors like the home’s location, construction, and coverage limits.

As a homeowner, you’ll pay your premium monthly or annually. Then, if you have a loss, you can file a claim with your carrier, who will cover the cost of the loss – as long as it’s covered in the terms of your policy.

When you file a claim, you’re responsible for your deductible. This is the amount homeowners must pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in for a claim. On standard home insurance policies, your deductible is typically a percentage of your dwelling coverage. For example, if your policy has $100,000 dwelling coverage and you have a 5% deductible, you’d be responsible for paying the first $5,000 of repairs.

What does home insurance cover?

Homeowners insurance typically covers three main areas – dwelling, personal belongings, and liability. Dwelling coverage protects the physical structure of your home, including walls, roof, and foundation, from covered perils like fire, theft, or wind damage. Personal belongings coverage extends to your possessions, such as furniture, electronics, and clothing, against perils both inside and outside your home.

Additionally, homeowners insurance provides liability coverage, which helps protect you if someone is injured on your property or if you accidentally cause damage to others’ property. This coverage can assist with legal expenses, medical bills, and potential settlement costs in case of a liability claim or lawsuit.

Standard homeowners insurance policies typically cover perils such as fire, theft, vandalism, windstorms, and certain types of water damage, like burst pipes. However, it’s important to review your policy carefully as some perils, like floods and earthquakes, are often excluded and may require separate coverage.

What doesn’t home insurance cover?

Understanding the limitations and exclusions of homeowners insurance is crucial to ensure you have a clear understanding of what risks may not be covered by your policy. While homeowners insurance provides comprehensive protection, there are certain situations and perils that are typically excluded.

One common exclusion in homeowners insurance is damage caused by floods. Flood insurance is a separate policy that homeowners in flood-prone areas should consider purchasing to protect their property and belongings from flood-related damages. 

Similarly, earthquakes aren’t typically not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies, requiring homeowners in seismic zones to obtain separate earthquake insurance.

It’s important to note that homeowners insurance generally doesn’t cover routine wear and tear or maintenance-related issues. This includes damages resulting from aging, deterioration, or lack of maintenance. It’s the responsibility of homeowners to maintain their property adequately to prevent such damages.

Additionally, certain high-value items like jewelry, artwork, or collectibles may have limited coverage under a standard homeowners insurance policy. If you own valuable possessions, consider adding a valuable items endorsement or obtaining separate insurance to ensure adequate protection for these items.

Assessing your home insurance needs

To choose homeowners insurance, follow these steps to assess your needs effectively:

  1. Evaluate your home’s value and determine the replacement cost, considering factors like construction materials and square footage
  2. Understand the liability risks associated with your property by assessing your lifestyle, frequency of visitors, and potential hazards
  3. Consider the option of obtaining an umbrella policy if you require additional liability protection beyond what’s provided by your homeowners policy
  4. Assess the need for additional coverage options, such as flood or earthquake insurance, based on your location and the likelihood of these perils

Researching insurance providers

When you choose homeowners insurance, use these steps to research each company: 

  1. Prioritize reputable and financially stable companies. Look for insurers with a strong industry presence and positive customer reviews.
  2. Check the financial stability of potential providers. Consult independent rating agencies, like A.M. Best or Standard & Poor’s, for their financial health ratings.
  3. Explore online reviews and ratings from customers. Utilize platforms and forums to gain insights into the experiences of policyholders.
  4. Utilize resources provided by accreditation bodies such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Assess customer complaints, satisfaction levels, and any disciplinary actions against insurers.

Comparing policies and coverage

When you choose homeowners insurance, follow these steps to effectively compare different offerings:

  1. Review policy documents and coverage details carefully. Pay attention to the specifics of what is covered, any exclusions, and the policy’s terms and conditions. 
  2. Compare deductibles. Evaluate how deductibles affect your premiums and consider what level of deductible aligns with your budget and risk tolerance.
  3. Evaluate coverage limits. Ensure the limits adequately protect your home, possessions, and liability risks. Adjust the limits based on your property’s value, personal belongings, and potential liabilities.
  4. Understand different coverage options and endorsements available. Some policies offer additional coverage for specific risks or valuable items through endorsements. Assess whether these options align with your needs and consider the associated costs.

Determining coverage limits

To determine the appropriate coverage limits, consider the following factors:

  • Assess the value of your property, including your home’s structure and any attached structures. Take into account the current market value, replacement cost, and the cost to rebuild or repair in case of damage or loss.
  • Evaluate the value of your personal belongings, including furniture, appliances, electronics, and other possessions. Consider their total worth and the cost to replace them in the event of theft, fire, or other covered perils.
  • Estimate your liability risks by evaluating your lifestyle and assets. Consider factors such as the number of people living in your home, the presence of potential hazards, and the likelihood of accidents or injuries occurring on your property. Determine the level of liability coverage needed to protect your assets in case of legal claims or lawsuits.

Choosing a deductible

Your deductible directly affects the cost of your premium. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. However, you shouldn’t always choose the highest premium available because you’re responsible for the amount if there’s a loss. 

When choosing a premium for your policy:

  • Evaluate the trade-off between deductible and premium costs. Higher deductibles usually result in lower premiums, but it means you’ll have a higher out-of-pocket expense in the event of a claim. Find a balance that aligns with your financial situation and risk tolerance.
  • Understand how deductibles affect claims and out-of-pocket expenses. Deductibles are the amount you must pay before your insurance coverage kicks in. Higher deductibles mean you’ll have to pay more out of pocket, while lower deductibles reduce your claim-related expenses but typically result in higher premiums.
  • Adjust deductibles based on your financial comfort level. Consider your ability to handle larger out-of-pocket expenses when deciding on deductibles. If you can comfortably manage higher costs at the time of a claim, opting for a higher deductible can lower your premium costs.

Take advantage of discounts and savings

Most insurance carriers offer a variety of discounts to help customers save some money. While many of the more common discounts are available with all carriers, each company has its own options.

Understand available discounts

Insurance providers often offer various discounts that can help reduce your premium costs. These discounts may include incentives for installing security systems, smoke alarms, or other safety features in your home. 

Some common home insurance discounts include:

  • Paid in full discount
  • Claims-free discount
  • HOA discount
  • Loyalty discount
  • Retiree discount
  • Military discounts
  • New home discount
  • Discounts for security features
  • Smart home discount
  • No-mortgage discount
  • Fortified home or mitigation discount
  • Green home discount

Inquire about special programs or affiliations

Some insurance providers offer special programs or affiliations that provide exclusive benefits and discounts. For example, members of the military or certain professional organizations may be eligible for reduced premiums or specialized insurance programs. It’s worthwhile to inquire about these options as they can potentially result in additional homeowner insurance savings.

Consider bundling your policies

Bundling multiple insurance policies with the same provider can often lead to substantial savings. By combining your homeowners insurance with other types of coverage, such as auto or life insurance, you may be eligible for multi-policy discounts. This approach simplifies your insurance management and provides an opportunity to enjoy cost savings on all bundled policies.

Reviewing and renewing your policy

To keep your homeowners insurance up to date, follow these steps for reviewing and renewing your policy:

  1. Regularly review policy coverage and terms to ensure they align with your current circumstances and adequately protect your home, belongings, and liabilities.
  2. Schedule annual or bi-annual check-ins with your insurance agent to discuss any changes in your property, lifestyle, or coverage needs. Seek their guidance on necessary adjustments or additional coverage options.
  3. Update your coverage when significant changes occur, such as home renovations, acquiring high-value possessions, or changes in your circumstances. This ensures that your policy reflects your current needs and provides the right level of protection.


What’s the 80% rule in homeowners insurance?

The 80% rule in homeowners insurance is a guideline used to determine the minimum insurance coverage needed to protect property against losses. According to this rule, homeowners should carry insurance coverage that is equal to at least 80% of the property’s total replacement cost.

The replacement cost refers to the amount it would take to rebuild or repair the property to its original condition if it were completely destroyed or damaged. It includes factors such as construction materials, labor costs, and any associated expenses.

By adhering to the 80% rule, homeowners ensure they’ve sufficient coverage to rebuild or repair their property in case of a covered loss. If the coverage amount falls below the 80% threshold, insurance companies may apply a “coinsurance penalty.” This penalty means the homeowner would be responsible for a larger portion of the repair or replacement costs out of pocket.

How much of your home value should you insure?

When determining how much of your home’s value you should insure, it is recommended to consider the replacement cost rather than the market value. The replacement cost refers to the amount it would take to rebuild or repair your home to its original condition if it were completely destroyed or damaged.

A general guideline is to insure your home for 100% of its replacement cost. This ensures you’ve adequate coverage to rebuild or repair your home in case of a covered loss.

What’s the most important part of homeowners insurance?

The most important part of homeowners insurance is the coverage it provides for your home’s structure, personal belongings, and liability risks. These core components ensure that you’ve financial protection in the event of covered perils, accidents, or damages.

Choose home insurance that fits your needs

If you’re looking for a comprehensive policy that fits your budget, we can help you choose homeowners insurance. Use our online quoting tool to compare multiple home insurance quotes in minutes.

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