Home Insurance Basics
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What's Not Covered
Eye of the Storm
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Don't Get Hammered By Hail
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Tennessee Homeowners Insurance Basics
What is Homeowners Insurance?
Tennessee homeowners insurance provides financial protection against disasters. A standard homeowner policy insures the home itself and the things you keep in it.
Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means that it covers both damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. This includes damage caused by household pets.
Damage caused by most disasters is covered but there are exceptions. The most significant are damage caused by floods, earthquakes and poor maintenance. You must buy two separate policies for flood and earthquake coverage. Maintenance-related problems are the homeowners' responsibility.
Why do I need Homeowners Insurance?
It's really all about protecting yourself financially if something unexpected happens to your home or possessions. That's important because chances are your home is likely one of your largest investments.
- If your home was destroyed by fire or damaged by a natural disaster, you'd need money to repair or replace it.
- If a guest in your home is injured, liability protection and medical coverage help pay expenses.
- If you are a victim of theft and vandalism, it can reimburse you for your loss or pay for repairs.
- If you are still paying for your home, your lender will require insurance.
It is important to know that homeowners insurance is meant to cover unexpected damage, not routine maintenance. Be sure to read your policy so you know exactly what's included and what is not. Have questions about your insurance? We're here to help you understand what is covered.
What coverage is included in a standard homeowners insurance policy?
A standard Tennessee homeowners insurance policy includes four types of coverage. They include:
1. Coverage for the Structure of your Home and Other Structures
- Coverage for the structure of your home
- Coverage for your personal belongings.
- Liability protection
- Additional living expenses in the event you are temporarily unable to live in your home because of a fire or other insured disaster.
This part of your policy pays to repair or rebuild your home for damage caused by most common risks. Typically, damage caused by fire, wind, hail, or lightning is covered under this part of the policy. Insurance for flood, earthquake, water and sewer backup damage must be purchased separately.
Most standard policies also cover structures that are detached from your home such as a garage, tool shed or gazebo. Generally, these structures are covered for about 10-20 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home.
When deciding on the limits of your coverage - the maximum amount the insurance company can pay - make sure that your policy covers the cost to replace the structure, not market value or just what you still owe on it.
2. Coverage for your Personal Belongings.
Whether the contents of your house - furniture, clothing and other items - are stolen or destroyed in an insured disaster such as a fire, they are covered under this part of the policy. Most companies provide coverage for about 50-75 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home.
Conduct a home inventory to determine if that's enough coverage for your personal belongings. If the amount is insufficient, or if you have particularly valuable items like fine art and jewelry, you may need to purchase additional coverage, called a floater.
Additionally, most homeowner policies contain internal sub-limits for such items as guns, furs and silverware that can limit the amount of recovery. Also, most policies limit contents coverage for property kept at an additional residence. Buying specific coverage may be the best option for maintaining full coverage in these instances.
Standard homeowners policies also provide limited coverage for trees, plants and shrubs as well as unauthorized use of your credit cards.
3. Liability Protection
Liability protection covers you against claims or lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or your family members negligently cause to other people or property. It also pays for injury or damage caused by pets.
So if your son, daughter or dog accidentally ruins your neighbor’s valuable rug, you’re covered. But if they destroy your rug, your liability coverage does not provide compensation.
Your policy also provides medical coverage. In the event a friend or neighbor is injured in your home, he or she can submit the medical bills to your insurance company. Expenses are paid without the injured party filing a liability claim against you. Liability coverage pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards up to the limit of your policy. This coverage applies anywhere in the world.
You can also purchase an umbrella or personal catastrophe liability policy to provide broader coverage for your home, including claims against you for libel and slander, and higher liability limits.
4. Coverage for Additional Living Expenses
If the damage from a fire, storm or other insured peril forces you out of your home, this part of the policy covers the expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt. Many policies provide coverage for about 20 percent of the insurance on your house or limit coverage to expenses occurred over a twelve month period. Our policies do not permit an increase in this coverage.
If you rent out a portion of your house, additional living expenses coverage also reimburses you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your house had not been damaged or destroyed.
Additional Homeowners Coverage Options
- Replacement cost. The policy pays the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home, or replacing your possessions without a deduction for depreciation.
- Sewer or drain water back-up. This insures your property for damage caused by the back-up of sewers or drains. Water back-up may not always be included in a policy. Check with us for more details.
- Umbrella or personal catastrophe liability. This is a way to add more liability protection and broader coverage to your standard policy.
- Earthquake insurance. Homeowners policies typically don’t automatically include earthquake insurance, but it can be purchased as an optional endorsement.
- Flood insurance. Like earthquake insurance, flood insurance is excluded from most homeowners policies and must be purchased separately through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Coverage for valuables. If you own expensive jewelry, electronic equipment or collectibles, you may want to purchase additional coverage such as an inland marine policy. Although these items are protected by your policy, coverage for theft or loss is limited.
- Identity protection. Identity recovery coverage is designed to help you restore your credit in the event of identity theft.
Things to consider and questions to ask
Here are a few things to discuss that will influence your decisions:
- How much will it cost to rebuild my house and replace my belongings if they are damaged or destroyed? We can help talk you through your home's features and the things you own so you can make an informed decision about coverage.
- Does the insurance company have a good reputation for customer service? Is it known for paying claims fairly and promptly?
- What discounts are available? Ask us about multiple policy, security system, and fire resistance discounts.
- What's the process for filing and settling a claim?
- Who do I call and what happens after I file a claim?
Because everyone's needs are not the same, it is best to consult with us to help assess your needs and find the insurance policy that is right for you.