Buying a home can be so overwhelming that it’s easy for first-time buyers, especially, to give minimal thought to the homeowner’s insurance process. Yet, if something happens to your home, homeowners insurance can make or break you. Before you just sign on the dotted line, here are three tips to guide you:
1. Contact at least three companies to compare coverage.
Your mortgage lender can, and probably will, require you to have homeowners insurance. You may be required to purchase additional insurance – like flood insurance. You aren’t required to buy from a particular insurance company. Instead, compare coverage, price and customer reviews. Be sure you get the right type and amount of coverage. Shop for value, not necessarily rock-bottom price. Since you’ll mainly deal with insurance companies during times of disaster, make sure the company you choose has great customer service reviews.
2. Escrow your insurance payments with your mortgage payments.
If you’re like most homeowners, you’ll tack monthly insurance payments onto your mortgage check. The lender will pay your insurance premiums (usually your property taxes, too) out of your escrow account. Lenders prefer this option because it lets them know your insurance premiums are being paid, and their investment is well protected. Most likely, you’ll need to pay for one year of insurance at closing. Bring information about the insurance policy you have chosen and the money to cover the first year’s premium.
3. Make sure you’re getting adequate coverage.
The most important part of homeowners insurance is the level of coverage. Avoid paying for more than you need.
Here are the most common levels of coverage:
HO-3 – Broader policy that protects against all perils except those specifically excluded by the policy.
HO-6 – Insurance for co-ops/condominiums, which includes personal property coverage, liability coverage and coverage of improvements to the owner’s unit. Insurance for the actual structure usually comes through the association.