Rochester Home Insurance10293065_s

Your home is more than just the sum of its parts.  It’s a part of who we are and a place where cherished memories are made.  For most of us it’s also one of the largest purchases we’ll ever make.  Take the time to protect it with the right insurance policy.

We can sit down and review your policy to make sure it fits your individual coverage needs.  And best of all – we’re an independent agency so we work for you, not an insurance company.  We can also comparison shop your coverage with multiple companies to make sure you get a competitive price.

Basic Components of a Homeowners Policy:

  • Dwelling Coverage: Coverage to repair or replace the building you reside in.  Depending upon the type of policy you have, this coverage can be limited to a list of specific perils (wind, fire, lighting, etc) or can include much broader coverage.  On your declarations page this is usually listed as Coverage part A, and should reflect the amount needed to rebuild your home in the event of a total loss.  It’s important to note the cost to rebuild a home typically exceeds the market value or purchase price.
  • Other Structures Coverage: Coverage for other structures on your property (detached garages, sheds, fences, etc).  This is typically listed as Coverage B on your policy declarations page.
  • Contents/personal property: Coverage for all of your personal belongings – furniture, appliances, clothing, etc.  This coverage commonly comes in two forms – Actual Cash Value (ACV) or Replacement Cost (RC).  Actual Cash Value is considered the lesser coverage, because it applies depreciation.  Let’s say your flat screen TV is damaged in a fire and would cost $1,000 to replace.  If the TV is 5 years old and has a life expectancy of 10 years, you might only 50% of that $1,000.   With a Replacement Cost policy you would get the full amount needed to replace the TV with an equivalent new model.  Most policies also limit coverage on certain types of items (jewelry, coins, firearms, etc.)  If you have items that are rare or particularly valuable it’s a good idea to check with your agent to make sure they have adequate coverage.
  • Additional Living Expenses: If for some reason you are temporarily displaced from your home due to a covered loss – Additional Living Expense coverage pays for the expenses you incur (hotel, food, etc.) until the home can be made livable again.
  • Liability Coverage: Personal Liability Coverage on a Homeowners policy is designed to protect you from claims arising from damage or injury you cause to a third party.  For example – if your dog bites a neighbor’s child and they file a lawsuit against you – this would cover your legal expenses and any settlements or court judgments against you (up to the policy limit).  It’s also a portable coverage – so it can cover you and household members even away from the residence.  If your child is playing baseball in the park, and hits a ball through someone’s window – this coverage can cover the damage.   A typical Homeowner policy carries anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 in Personal Liability coverage.  Separate Umbrella policies can be purchased to provide even higher coverage limits.
  • Medical Expense Coverage: This coverage is designed to cover the medical expenses of others who are injured on your property, or by the actions of an insured, household employee, or a pet.  It’s important to note that you and your family members aren’t covered under this coverage – if you or a family member are injured at home it would fall under your health insurance.   Your guests however are eligible for this coverage regardless of whose fault the accident was.  Most policies include $1,000 or $5,000 in Medical Expense coverage.
Policy Types

There are a number of different types of Homeowners insurance policies, each with its own unique characteristics.  They all typically fall into one of the following form types:

  • HO1 – Basic or Standard policy (coverage limited to a few specific perils)
  • HO2 – Broad form policy (coverage is extended to a larger number of specified perils)
  • HO3 – Special form policy (aka: All-risk policy – this is the most common policy type, broader coverage)
  • HO4 – Renters Insurance policy
  • HO5 – Enhanced/Comprehensive policy (An enhanced version of the HO3 form)
  • HO6 – Condo Owners policy
  • HO7 – Mobile Home policy
  • HO8 – Modified policy (typically used for older homes where the replacement cost far exceeds the market value.)

Video Corner:

Fall Home Maintenance Tips:
Replacement Cost vs
Actual Cash Value:

Home Insurance FAQ:

What isn’t covered under my policy?

What is and is not covered under your policy can vary greatly depending upon the type of policy you have.  There are very basic policy forms which only cover a list of specific perils like fire, lightning, wind, hail, etc.  Other policy forms cover almost anything that is not specifically excluded.

As a general rule – there are some things that are almost never covered under a homeowners policy: Flood, earthquake damage, war, nuclear accidents, landslide/mudslide, and sinkholes.  Damage from insects & vermin is often excluded, as is mold.   Claims related to normal wear and tear & lack of maintenance are also usually excluded.   If you’re not sure if something’s covered, it’s usually a good idea to ask your agent before you submit a claim to the insurance company.

Replacement Cost vs. ACV

Replacement Cost coverage and Actual Cash Value (ACV) coverage are the most common types of property coverage available.  Between the two – Replacement Cost coverage is the better coverage.  Replacement cost covers you for the amount it will cost to replace an item damaged in a covered loss, based on current day prices.  So if you lose a 50″ television in a covered fire loss, the company would pay you how much it would cost to buy a similar 50″ television.

Actual Cash Value covers you for the cost to replace an item, but applies depreciation.  So if your 50″ TV was lost in a fire and was 5 years old, and TV’s have a typical lifespan of 10 years – you may only receive 50% of the TV’s replacement cost!

Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value are not to be confused with the Market Value of your home.  If you purchase a home for $150,000 it may cost much more than that to rebuild in the event of a total loss.  The amount of insurance coverage needed on that house should equal the cost to rebuild it – in many cases this can be much higher than the purchase price!

Is water damage covered?

Water damage can be tricky.  Most of the time – if the water originates from inside the home – say a pipe bursts or an appliance breaks – the resulting damage is covered. (Replacing the pipe or the appliance is not typically covered).  If the water originates from outside the home – coverage usually depends on how the water gets into the house.  If it washes in due to a flooding situation – that’s not covered.  If it enters the home due to a covered loss – say ice builds up on the roof and forces water to seep in through the roof – that’s probably covered.   If water backs up through a sewer or drain pipe from outside the home – that’s usually an optional coverage that can be added to most policies.  Confused?  When in doubt call your agent and they can tell you what is or isn’t covered.

Do I need renters insurance?

  1. Do you rent a home or apartment?
  2. Do you own things like clothing, furniture, appliances, etc?

If you answered “Yes” to both #1 & #2, you could benefit from renters insurance.  While it’s not required by law it is becoming very common for landlords to require it.  Renters Insurance is very inexpensive (around $15/month) and provides coverage for both the things you own and liability coverage in case you cause an injury or property damage to another person.  It’s one of the most affordable policies you can buy and it can be a lifesaver if your personal property is damaged or stolen.

Is property away from home covered?

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do include some coverage for property that is away from the primary residence.   For example – if your golf clubs are stolen from the trunk of your car while it was parked away from home – that would be covered under your policy.   While policies may vary – the most common limit included for property away from home is 10% of your personal property limit.   Your policy may also cover the property of your child while they are away in a college dorm room.

What if someone falls on my property?

If someone slips and falls on your property there is generally coverage available to them under the medical payment portion of your policy.  This can be applied toward any medical expenses they might incur as the result of the injury.   There may also be coverage under your liability coverage if you were somehow negligent in their falling.

For example – if you knew one of your stairs was loose and you didn’t warn your guest, then they slipped on the loose stair and got hurt.  They might be able to make a claim against your policy. In the event of a situation like that it’s a good idea to notify your company so they can assign an adjuster to investigate the claim and determine if coverage applies.

Who is responsible if a tree falls on my property?

Generally speaking – wherever the tree lands – that’s the person responsible.   So if a freak windstorm blows your neighbor’s tree onto your house – your policy would be responsible for the removal & repairs.

Unless there was evidence that the tree was an obvious hazard (dead or rotted & looking like it could fall at any moment) and you had provided written notice to the tree’s owner – chances are your policy is going to be the only coverage available.

Even worse: if the tree lands on your property but doesn’t cause damage to any structures on your property (and isn’t blocking an entrance or driveway) – it probably isn’t a covered loss under your policy!