We purchased and moved into a new home, but have been unable to sell our previous house. Does my homeowner’s policy cover my vacant house?

Insurance companies will only cover a vacant home for up to 60 days. After that, important coverages are dropped. A home is defined at “vacant” if it does not contain enough furniture for someone reasonably to live there. There are two problems with a home that is vacant greater than 60 days:

  • Vandalism and glass breakage are not covered at all. In fact, newer homeowners forms often exclude any ensuing loss started by vandalism (i.e., vandals burn the house down!).
  • Most homeowners insurers won’t continue to insure a vacant home. If your policy is canceled or nonrenewed for vacancy reasons, there are only a handful of insurers willing to insure a vacant home. For the customer, either the coverage is very limited but the premium is reasonable, or the coverage is as good as the homeowners policy but the premium cost is 4-5 times greater.

Another strategy if you are actively trying to sell the property is to ask your realtor to “stage” your house with rented furniture. A house staged attractively will sell faster and usually at a higher price than a vacant property. So while the property may be unoccupied, it does not meet the definition of vacant and you can continue regular coverage.

For more information visit: https://www.irmi.com/articles/expert-commentary/managing-the-risks-of-a-vacant-home

I am planning on installing a pool. Do I need special insurance?

Above ground and in-ground swimming pools pose special risks to homeowners. Mostly they are a liability risk if someone is injured while in or near your pool. This is typically covered by an Umbrella Policy that provides additional liability coverage, typically in one million dollar increments, for a reasonable additional cost.

For more details, click here: http://www.iii.org/article/im-installing-a-pool-what-kind-of-insurance-do-i-need

Do I need a special policy for jewelry, collectible or other high value items?

There is limited coverage for items such as jewelry, silverware, furs, antiques, artworks or collectibles. The limit is typically $1500-2500 for loss and theft. If you have high value possessions you will need either a floater policy or endorsement to specifically cover them over and above the standard limits.

For more details, click here: http://www.iii.org/article/floaters-and-endorsements-special-coverage-valuables


Does my homeowner policy cover other structures on my property?

Yes, BUT the standard limit of coverage is 10% of the amount of insurance on your main house. So if your house is insured for $400,000 then your outbuildings are covered up to $40,000. The definition of “other structures” includes your garage, sheds, pool, pool house and fences. If it would cost more to replace these than the 10%, you may want to increase your limit to cover their replacement cost.


Are my trees and shrubs covered for damages by my homeowners policy?

Your trees and shrubs are covered for losses by vandalism, theft and fire by standard (HO-3) homeowners policies. But NOT for losses from wind damage. However, if a fallen tree damages your home or blocks access to it, you may be covered for its removal- generally up to a $500 limit.


Does my homeowners (or renters) policy cover flooding damage?

The simple answer is NO. Flood coverage, however, is available in the form of a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program – NFIP (888-379-9531) and from a few private insurers. The NFIP provides coverage for up to $250,000 for the structure of the home and $100,000 for personal possessions. If you are interested in learning more about flood insurance or if you would like a quote please give us a call.

For more details, click here: http://www.iii.org/article/does-my-homeowners-insurance-cover-flooding


What is the difference between “replacement value” and “actual cash value” for my personal possessions and valuables?

The answer is an important one. If you suffer losses, Replacement Cost provides you with a dollar amount needed to replace an older item with a new item of similar kind and quality. An Actual Cash Value settlement pays you for the amount needed to replace the item minus depreciation.

Click here for more details: http://www.helpinsure.com/home/documents/acvvsreplace.pdf



Is my Home Insurance Replacement Value the same as its market value?

An emphatic NO! Your Home Replacement Value relates to what it would cost to rebuild your home if you had a total loss of the insured structure(s). This figure, of course, does not include the land value. Market value relates to your home’s worth to prospective buyers. Assessed value is determined by your local community for property tax purposes.

NOTE: If you haven’t had a Home Insurance Replacement review recently, call us. We provide a free review service.