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Your home is one of the biggest purchases in your life. Our home insurance guides help you figure out what you need to protect it, while our tools find you local insurer options to compare.

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Your home is one of the biggest purchases in your life. Our home insurance guides help you figure out what you need to protect it, while our tools help you compare local home insurance options so you can save on quality coverage.

We source and compare over 70 home Insurance companies to get you the coverage, service, and price you want! We don't sell insurance coverage ourselves, so our only motivation is to provide you with the best insurance quotes for your home. We offer you transparency and objective comparisons so you can determine what is best for you and your family.

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Home insurance buyer's guide

What is home insurance?

So, you just bought a home and now you want to know how much you'll need to shell out per month for insurance. Or maybe you're an experienced homeowner who wants to brush up on what exactly your home insurance covers and doesn't cover. Either way, don't worry: we can explain.

Home insurance protects your house from natural disasters, crimes, and other unforeseen events. You pay a monthly premium and in exchange, an insurance company agrees to pay some or all of the costs in the case of such an event. If your house gets flooded, hit by a tornado or broken into and damaged, you can file a claim and get reimbursed for the damages.

That reimbursement could cover anything from broken furniture to a hole in your roof, depending on your specific contract. Keep reading for a little more detail on who needs it, when you should buy, and the different parts of every standard home insurance plan.


Who needs home insurance?

Homeowners who finance

If you completely own a home, then you're not technically required to have insurance — but that's not the case if you have a mortgage. Mortgage lenders by and large require homeowners to have insurance. Basically, they want to make sure that even if your home is destroyed or badly damaged, the mortgage will still have value. If your home gets totally destroyed in a house fire or a hurricane, and it's not covered by insurance, you might not even be able to pay back a mortgage. Lenders are protecting their investment. (That said, even if you've already paid off your mortgage, home insurance is still a good idea.)

Homeowners without financing

As we mentioned above, insurance is still a basic necessity even if you don't have a mortgage. Your home is probably one of the most valuable assets you own. Monthly premiums aren't exactly fun, but protecting an investment as big as a house is just common sense. All it takes is one accidental house fire or natural disaster to make that investment go up in flames. Unless you can literally afford to rebuild your home from scratch, you should probably have insurance.

In addition, homeowner's insurance isn't just limited to your house. It can also protect your valuables, any expensive furniture, and even liability coverage in case somebody is injured on your property. If your home gets broken into and your expensive sound system or flatscreen tv gets stolen, you could be reimbursed for your loss if you insured those assets.


When to shop for home insurance

When buying a home

We get it: buying home insurance for the first time can be a doozy. Especially if you're a young, first-time homeowner, the insurance market could easily give you option paralysis. But this is one of the best times to buy. If you're looking into home insurance plans for the first time, here are a couple things to look out for:

  • The kinds of hazards that are covered in the policy (Fire damage? Floods? Earthquakes? Burglary?);
  • The limit, or the highest payout the company will give you when you file a claim;
  • The deductible, or the amount you'll pay in the event of home damage before your company starts reimbursing you;
  • And finally, whether or not the policy is an Actual Cash Value or a Replacement Cost Value type.

In addition, don't just settle on the first company that you come across! Get the lowdown on multiple policies — you may be able to save on certain types of coverage due to the location you live in, or if you bundle it with auto insurance. Some plans may give you more for your money than others.

When your term is up

If your contract is up for renewal, it may also be a good time to shop around for insurance policies. Keep in mind, though, that staying with your insurance provider for a long period of time could net you some discounts: insurers tend to reward loyalty over ten years or more. That's why if you're considering a switch, you should make sure that the potential benefits of a new policy far outweigh the losses. Some key questions to ask are:

  • Are your monthly payments or your deductible significantly lower?
  • Do you get extended coverage for a lower price?
  • Would a new contract raise the payout limit by a significant margin?

The good news is, if you are an experienced homeowner who's already on an insurance plan, remember — you're in a good place. You have bargaining power. Don't be afraid to ask for discounts to incentivize either staying with your current company or switching to a new one.


How is homeowners insurance different from other kinds of insurance?

Escrow

In short, you don't pay for your home insurance the same way you pay for other kinds of insurance. In this case, you put your money into an escrow, or a separate account between you and your mortgage lender.

Every month, rather than paying bills yourself, you deposit money into the escrow account when you pay your mortgage. Then, when the bill is due, your mortgage lender uses the money in the escrow account to pay your insurance company.

The thing is, home insurance usually comes as a single, large lump sum. Without an escrow, you'd have to come up with a huge amount of money at a single time — not an ideal situation for mortgage lenders or insurance companies, who want to ensure that the payment process is as reliable and risk-free as possible.

Payouts

Payouts can also be a bit different from other kinds of insurance, depending on your company and your specific contract.

In some cases, when you file a claim and your insurer agrees to reimburse you for it, they'll give you the payout directly. Quick and easy, and the money is now yours to use.

On the other hand, if you have a mortgage, some insurance companies will instead give the payout to the bank that holds your mortgage (many mortgage lenders will require that you have this kind of contract). Lenders oftentimes want a hand in the process to ensure that the money is used for necessary repairs.

In this kind of payout situation, you might have to show your mortgage lender a contractor's repair bid, an invoice or maybe even the repairs themselves before the funds will be released and you can use them to pay the contractor who fixed your house.

Additional living expenses

If the damage to your house is extreme enough, you may not be able to live there at all. Luckily, your home insurance will have a policy to cover alternative housing and cost-of-living until your home gets the necessary repairs. That budget could include rent, but it could also include other expenses related to being displaced, such as food or medical bills. That said, you'll want to check your contract to know exactly what's covered and what isn't — most contracts will have a cap on payouts for alternative housing/living expenses.


Parts of a home insurance plan

Deductible

A deductible is the largest amount you agree to pay in the case of a claim. So, if you have a $1000 deductible, and your home suffers $2000 in damage, you must pay the initial $1000 on your own before your insurance company will reimburse you for any of the repairs.

It seems simple: a lower deductible would be better than a high one, right? But that's not always the case.

Higher deductibles come with a few benefits, like lower premiums (which we'll cover in the next section). That's why you shouldn't make your deductible unreasonably high, but you should make it as high as you can afford to. It seems like an unorthodox strategy, but it'll save you money in the long run.

What affects your premium?

Home insurance premiums are a complicated thing — they're affected by many different factors. According to a 2018 study, home insurance premiums rose by 3.6 percent in 2015, following a similar rise in 2014. So knowing exactly what goes into them is important.

  • DEDUCTIBLE: The first thing you'll want to think about is your deductible. The higher your deductible, the lower your premiums will be.
  • PAST CLAIMS: The second most important factor is how often you file claims. If you file home insurance claims frequently, your premiums will be higher because insurers will view your home as a high-risk investment. (That's another reason why having a high deductible is a good strategy: you probably shouldn't be filing claims for anything trivial anyways.)
  • RISK: Finally, the last major factor that'll affect your premiums is simply how risky your home is to insure. If you live in a flood-prone region, but your home doesn't have any renovations to protect against water damage, you'll be paying higher premiums. On the other hand, if your home has been recently renovated, has a security system and isn't a risky prospect for insurance companies, they'll likely offer you a lower monthly payment.
  • MISCELLANEOUS FACTORS: Other than those three main factors, there are a host of smaller issues that could affect your home insurance premiums: whether you own a dog, how long you've been with your current company, even whether or not anybody in your house smokes cigarettes. Check the related links below for more information.

Claims and exclusions

The exact coverage of any homeowner's insurance plan will depend on your specific contract, so reading yours is essential. Make sure you take a close look

That said, there are some things that home insurance doesn't usually cover.

It may surprise you to hear that many insurers won't include flood, sinkhole or earthquake coverage in their base plans — you'll likely have to purchase separate insurance for such situations. But other natural disasters, like fires, strong winds or hail are usually covered by home insurance. It's also not just limited to your house itself. Home insurance can usually be used to cover any valuable assets you own, like jewelry or heirlooms, though you may have to sign an additional rider and pay slightly higher premiums.

That said, be careful. Even though items inside your house can be covered by insurance, oftentimes structures attached to or on the outside of your house will not be covered. This could include sheds, patios and the like. Home insurance is confusing! That's why this website is here to help.

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