UPDATED: APRIL 19, 2023 | 2 MIN READ
Finding a new home insurance policy is complicated. This is especially true if you’re seeking a good balance of wide coverage and low costs. You might want to take your time with this process because it might take some time to find the right plan that matches your needs.
If you know what you want in terms of coverage, how much you’re willing to spend, and what type of coverage is necessary for your needs, you can narrow your search for a plan by looking for those features.
When you want to purchase home insurance, there are several home insurance questions you should ask yourself and others that you should ask your insurance agent.
19 Home Insurance Questions to Ask When Purchasing A Home
1. What are my home’s strengths?
Your home’s strengths are one of the most important things an agent will look for. Certain features, amenities, and elements will convince companies to offer you insurance coverage.
In what ways is your home a low-risk proposition for insurance companies?
- What is the crime rate in your area? If there is a low crime rate, it will positively influence your insurance premium.
- Is your home modern and well-maintained? Older homes may be more costly to insure.
- Are the electrical and plumbing systems new or old? Newer systems may be less likely to cause issues.
If you know your home’s strengths, you’ll know where you need extra coverage and where you don’t. You’ll also know exactly what to highlight when speaking to an agent if you want as many discounts as possible
2. What are my home’s weaknesses?
- In what ways is your home a high-risk proposition for insurance companies?
- Do you live in an area where crime and break-ins are common?
- Are there lots of natural disasters?
- Does your home have a pool, a thin roof, an old plumbing system, or anything else that looks like an insurance claim waiting to happen?
Insurance is one of the most important things to consider regarding your financial security. Insurance companies can dictate what you need and what you don’t need to keep a certain level of coverage. Some things are more expensive than others, so ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.
3. What are my most valuable appliances and pieces of furniture?
If you’re considering a new homeowners insurance policy, there’re a few other things you’ll have to consider. Among these is the cost of insuring your most-valued personal belongings.
While policies with most providers offer personal property coverage, there is a limit to the value of each item. You’ll also want to ensure that goods like expensive televisions and other electronics are covered.
If you’re looking to get the best possible insurance, it’s helpful to have a home inventory and a list of your needs. That’ll give you a clearer idea of how expensive a potential policy could be and which features it would have access to.
4. and 5. What kinds of damages am I the most concerned about? AND What are this area’s most common crimes and natural disasters?
As a homeowner, you need to be aware of the damages that might happen to your property in case of natural disasters. You should also be aware of this area’s most common types of crimes.
Natural disasters are a concern to many homeowners. Flooding and hurricanes are two natural disasters that homeowners should be prepared for as they can cause severe damage to your property.
If you live in the mid-Atlantic, you probably don’t need to worry about earthquake protection. But if you live in an area that could be affected by hurricanes or home fires, it’s essential to have a robust home policy.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, and flood coverage are essential for anyone living in an area with these natural disasters. But what about the break-ins? If you live in an area with mild weather but lots of crime, coverage for break-ins might be more critical than hurricanes or tornadoes.
This is one area where a little research could save you a lot of money in the long run. Most standard policies don’t offer flood insurance as standard so you may find yourself in trouble if you don’t purchase an additional flood policy.
6. What materials is my house made out of?
Once you know the common natural disasters in your area, it’s good to figure out exactly what your house is.
If your home is made of a wood frame, your premiums might be higher in a dry area where fires are common because they’ll burn quickly. A brick home would be cheaper to insure because of its higher fire resistance.
On the other hand, a brick home will almost certainly be more expensive in an earthquake-prone environment because it’s not as safe. Knowing your home’s materials is the same as knowing what you need insurance for.
7. What does this policy say about fire and smoke damage?
In a previous blog post, we discussed the difficulties of filing a claim for smoke-related damages. While house fires themselves are almost always covered, policies on smoke damage can vary from contract to contract.
Looking specifically at the fire damage section isn’t a bad idea. No matter where you live or what your house is made of, a kitchen fire could always occur.
8. Are there any vaguely-worded sections in this contract?
It might be hard to check out yourself, but try to look for any vagueness in the fine print. That could be a warning sign if anything doesn’t seem specific enough. Ambiguous wording could mean the company will try to weasel out of making good on specific claims.
Knowing precisely what’s in the contract while you’re buying is better than finding out in ten years when your claim gets denied because your company says they don’t cover it.
9. Do I have any plans to renovate shortly?
The bigger your home is, and the more expensive the materials are, the more costly it likely is to insure. That said, renovation can also be a good way to lower your premiums if you know what to go for.
Minimizing risk by installing a security system or a good set of storm doors could save you money in the long run.
Any significant renovations will affect your home and your insurance, so consider them when buying.
10. Do I own a pet or plan to own a pet any time soon?
If you own a pet, it could affect your home insurance. Large dogs or dogs from aggressive breeds could lead to higher premiums, just like other ostensibly dangerous pets like poisonous snakes.
You may also have to sign a rider saying your company isn’t liable to pay any liability claims if your pet hurts someone, which could be a whole bundle of medical and legal costs out-of-pocket.
11. Have I filed any home insurance claims recently?
Filing a recent claim could make it much harder to find insurance at reasonable rates or at all. Insurance companies will see insurance on your home as a risky investment if you have a recent history of filing claims, especially small ones.
If you’ve filed any claims recently, it may be worth waiting a couple of years before you switch contracts. On the other hand, if you haven’t filed any claims recently, but your premiums have recently gone up for no apparent reason, then now might be the perfect time to look around.
12. What’s the highest deductible I can afford?
It’ll lower your monthly premiums if you can afford a higher deductible. On the other hand, if you can’t risk a high deductible of a couple thousand or more, you’ll be paying for the privilege.
If possible, $1000 is a good minimum to aim for on your deductible. So ask yourself how much you’re willing to pay out-of-pocket and how often you think you’ll be filing claims.
13. Are there any insured items or types of coverage I’d be willing to give up?
If you want to save on homeowners insurance, what are you ok with skimping on? Insuring less expensive appliances and furniture could save your monthly premiums. So, could we go for lighter coverage on unlikely types of damage?
For example, if you live in a fairly dry area, you probably don’t need to pay for extended flood and water damage coverage. So ask yourself what you truly need and what you can live without.
14. What is this company’s claims process like?
Before you commit, ask your agent to walk you through what a normal claims process is like with your company. Ask about the timeline for seeing an adjuster and getting an estimate. Try to look at some initial forms you’ll have to fill out when filing.
The overall process will be the same for most companies, but getting a step-by-step could reveal something you didn’t know about your company’s policies.
15. What is my credit score like, and will this company consider it?
Home insurance companies are increasingly considering credit scores when they offer insurance. This could depend not only on which company you’re looking at but also on your state.
In California, for instance, companies can’t use credit score to determine your premiums. But in other states, having poor credit could skyrocket your monthly insurance costs.
16. Do I have any plans to retire or switch careers soon?
Retiring or switching careers could net you a discount on your home insurance premiums. Insurers tend to reward homeowners with stable careers and long-term plans. Age and retirement are also factors (the older you get, the cheaper home insurance tends to be).
17. Did I shop around enough for a good insurance contract?
In all likelihood, the average homeowner probably doesn’t shop around enough when buying home insurance. It’s easy to settle for whichever plan came bundled with your auto insurance or whatever was the easiest to get a quick contract with.
But comparing home insurance rates could save you money for years and even decades down the road, so it’s well worth thinking about the benefits and drawbacks of different plans.
18. Do I also need auto insurance?
Many insurance companies will offer home insurance at a discount when bundled with auto insurance. It’s usually a good deal if you need both, and it could also be more convenient than managing separate policies from two companies. Make sure it’s cheaper than managing two plans, and you’re not paying more simply for convenience.
19. If my premiums go up, will I still be able to afford this contract?
Finally, you should ensure you’re not maxed out on your insurance policy. It can be tempting to make your deductible as low as possible or eat expensive premiums because your home and assets are essential to you.
We get it. But home insurance is one area where you want some leeway. All it takes is one or two claims to increase your premiums, especially as a new customer to a potential agent and contract. So your financial situation should allow for at least some increase in your monthly premiums if necessary.
How To Get Help With Home Insurance Questions
While finding the right home insurance plan that balances coverage and costs may take some time, knowing your home inside and out and what you want from a contract will make the process much smoother.
Purchasing home insurance is a significant investment, but fortunately, plenty of resources are available to help you get started. Get quotes online today and see how much you can save on your premiums.