[summary]As an investor, picking the right home insurance policy to protect your properties is vital. Before making your decision, be sure you’re informed of all your options by asking the right questions — taking these extra steps could save you valuable time, money and heartache later.[/summary]
If you’re a buy and hold real estate investor, finding the right home insurance policy plays an important part in protecting your long term asset.
Between the endless paperwork and lengthy searches comparing various policies, finding the right coverage for your needs can become overwhelming.
Here are five tips that can help you know with certainty that you’ve found the right home insurance policy to protect your long term asset.
Home Insurance: 5 Tips for Finding the Right Policy
Know your options.
The most important step in your quest for home insurance is researching your options. You won’t know with certainty that you’re getting the best coverage and price unless you compare and contrast policies and price quotes from multiple companies.
Prices vary widely between carriers due to each company using a different algorithm to calculate their customers’ premiums. So, by comparison shopping, you could save yourself hundreds of dollars each year on your home insurance.
You can save time by using an insurance aggregating website such as HomeInsurance.com to view multiple quotes at once. You can check the average insurance premiums by state as well. However, by taking the time to speak with company representatives individually, you’ll be more likely to receive an accurate quote, based on your credit score, location, type of home, and coverage needs.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to look at surveys of the best insurance companies, which are conducted by asking real consumers about their policies and experiences. Consumer Affairs, for example, recently published their list of the Top Ten Best Rated Homeowners Insurance Companies for 2016.
The smaller company with the better price may seem more attractive, but it may not be worth it in the long run. Remember, “Large national carriers are likelier to invest in emergency response equipment and technology, which gives them an edge,” according to Lynne McChristian, a Florida Representative for the Insurance Information Institute. While you may pay a little bit higher of a premium, if you choose a bigger carrier, you’re more likely to receive a swift response in a disaster.
Buy the bundle.
When searching for homeowner’s insurance, ask the carrier if they’re willing to bundle your home and auto coverage. Although discounts for bundling will vary by carrier, opening a multi-line insurance policy by bundling your home and auto coverage can save you anywhere from “3 percent to 22 percent,” according to Amy Danise, editorial director of Insure.com in an interview for Equifax.
Talk to an expert.
You may have better luck finding the best policy by speaking with an independent insurance agent who works with many different carriers. Since they aren’t beholden to any one company, you’ll know they’ll be finding you the best coverage for your particular needs.
Streamline their interview process by having the answers to the following questions ready:
- What type of property are you insuring (new townhome, new single-family home)?
- How many residents will be in the home?
- What is the square footage/how many stories does the home have?
- What type of siding and roof does the property have?
- What is the number of fireplaces?
- Does your home have a monitored alarm system?
- What is the approximate value of the personal property you want to protect in case of loss?
Interview the carrier.
What’s your credit score? What time of home are you insuring? The questions are endless, and at times, finding a homeowner’s insurance policy can feel a lot like an interview. Don’t forget to ask your share of the questions, though.
Whether you’re speaking with an independent agent or an associate of a particular carrier, remember to ask for the answers to the following list of questions. Not knowing the answers could prove to be a costly mistake later on.
- What is included in the policy? Is there coverage for just the new home dwelling or for the actual housing structure, as well as for personal property and people as well?
- What are the limits for coverage on personal property?
- What is the liability coverage?
- What is the loss of use coverage?
- What coverage do you offer for flooding and weather-related issues?
Understand the coverage.
Understand your coverage before you sign. People tend to think of their home insurance policies as one big safety net and catch all that will protect them in any kind of disaster or emergency. The unfortunate truth is that many kinds of natural disasters aren’t covered under standard policies.
If you live in a state prone to hurricanes, you will need to ask about buying wind protection coverage. In states prone to sinkholes, earthquakes or mudslides, you would need to pay for additional “earth movement coverage.” Flood damage is also not covered by standard homeowners insurance.
Speak to an agent about any of these additional coverages you may need before finalizing your policy.
Finding the Right Policy
While interviewing companies and pouring over the fine print of policies may seem like a hassle now, you’ll be able to rest easy after you’ve chosen your coverage, knowing that you’ll have the help you need to get back what you lost in the event of a disaster.
Selecting the home right insurance coverage for your investment property will give you peace of mind, knowing that your asset is protected.
How did you choose your policy? Anything you’d add to these tips?
Leave your comments below!
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.