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Real Estate 101: How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?

Oct 18, 2007
"When you buy real estate, one of the first things you need to consider is how you will keep your investment properly protected. Whether you are purchasing real estate as a place for you to live or you are purchasing it as an investment property, you still want to make sure it is protected from damage or other problems that may occur. Therefore, you will need to buy homeowners insurance as soon as possible.

When you buy homeowners insurance, you will have many options available to you. Among these options will be determining how much coverage you should provide to your home. When making this decision, you will need to take a number of different factors into consideration.

The Basics of Homeowners Insurance

In a nutshell, you will need to make sure that the insurance you buy is enough to cover the cost of replacing the real estate and all of its contents if something were to happen to your home. In addition, house insurance covers the costs if you are found responsible for an injury that someone sustains while on your property. Therefore, you need to have enough coverage in place to keep yourself properly covered as well.

The first step you will have to take when you buy insurance is to determine which category of house insurance best suits your needs. You will have six basic forms of coverage to select from. These include:

* HO-1: Basic insurance that only covers very specific perils, such as windstorms, fire, explosion, lightning, theft, riot, smoke, vandalism, and volcanic eruptions.

* HO-2: A broader form of homeowners insurance that covers more perils than HO-1 and includes coverage for items such as damage from frozen pipes, falling objects, weight of ice and snow, faulty electrical units, and faulty heating systems.

* HO-3: This is the broadest form of homeowner's insurance. Rather than naming those things that are covered, it names specific hazards that are not covered. These typically include flood, earthquake, and war.

* HO-3 and HO-4: These forms of coverage are not associated with real estate that you buy but with rental units.

* HO-8: If you buy older real estate that has been beautifully restored or if you restore it yourself, it may be more valuable than what a typical homeowner's policy would cover. Therefore, you can purchase this type of policy in order to increase the amount you would be paid if the home were damaged.

In addition to these basic policies, you can also buy additional coverage that can be added on to your policy to cover specific types of disasters.

Deciding the Amount of Coverage Needed for Your Real Estate

In the past, experts recommended that buying enough coverage to cover 80% of the cost of rebuilding your real estate. This was because experts felt it was unlikely that a home would actually be completely destroyed. Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, however, proved that this was untrue. Therefore, it is best to buy enough coverage to pay for 100% of your home.

Your insurance agent will be able to do some calculations to determine the replacement value of your home. Nonetheless, it is a good idea for you to do some comparison shopping in order to come up with a figure of your own as well. You should be able to get an idea of the basic replacement cost by talking to your local builder's association and finding out the construction cost per square foot of a home. Then, add on additional costs for extras such as a Jacuzzi or central air.

When you buy your policy, you will have to choose from replacement cost insurance and cash value policies. Cash value policies will pay you for the current cash value of your real estate, minus depreciation. Replacement value insurance, though more expensive, will pay you the amount it costs to rebuild your home.

Taking Care of Possessions and Liability Issues

When you buy homeowners insurance, you are covering more than just the real estate. You also need to consider the replacement costs for your possessions. An insurance agent will typically offer coverage that is equivalent to 50% to 75% of the value of the real estate. If you like to buy very nice things, however, this coverage may not be enough. In order to make this determination, you will need to take an inventory of your possessions. While this is tedious, it will come in handy if disaster does strike.

In addition to covering your real estate and your possessions, you also need to cover yourself when you buy house insurance. This is where liability coverage comes in. In most cases, a policy will provide $100,000 to $300,000 worth of coverage. You will need to take several things into consideration when determining how much liability coverage is enough. This includes your income, the equity you have built into your home, your investments, the value of your assets, and the value of your business if you have started one. You will then subtract all of your debts from this amount in order to determine your value. Make sure you buy enough liability insurance to cover your personal value.

Determining how much homeowners insurance coverage you should buy can be a time consuming process. It is well worth the time, however, as you can sit comfortable knowing that you are covered if disaster strikes. "
About the Author
Kinan Beck is the Broker and co-owner of One Source Realty in Austin Texas. Visit Kinan's Midtown Tulsa Estate Guide, visit his Lake Austin Realtor.
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