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One way clients try to lower their property insurance premiums is to buy coverage for less than 100 percent of the value of the property. Within certain limits, this can be effective, though you need to remember that when you buy less coverage than your property is worth, you accept financial responsibility for the remaining value. You also need to know that property insurance policies contain a coinsurance clause, and if you violate it, you could receive a lot less money than you’re expecting if you have a claim.

What is coinsurance?

In the property insurance market, coinsurance refers to the percentage of the property’s total value that a policyholder is required to insure.  Coinsurance requirements differ among insurers, but the typical amount is 80 percent, sometimes rising to as much as 90 or 100 percent. That means if your property is worth 500,000 and your coinsurance requirement is 80 percent, your property should be insured for no less than $400,000.

The purpose of coinsurance is to make sure property owners purchase enough coverage to protect their property investment. If you don’t insure your property for the correct amount and have a loss, even a partial loss, you will get less for your claim than you were expecting, making it more difficult for you to rebuild after a loss. This is why it’s important that you don’t violate the coinsurance clause of your policy.

Do the math

Here’s what happens if you violate your coinsurance clause. Let’s say you have a property worth one million dollars. If you have a coinsurance clause of 80 percent, your property should be insured for no less than $800,000 to avoid violating your coinsurance clause. If you purchase coverage lower than that, say $500,000 for example, all claim payouts will be reduced by a formula for settling losses. Here’s a scenario:

The above-mentioned property is damaged by fire, sustaining losses of $100,000. In determining how much to pay you for your claim, the insurance company will look to see if you have met your coinsurance clause responsibility. If you haven’t, they will take what you insured your property for ($500,000) and divide it by the amount you should have insured it for under the coinsurance clause of your policy ($800,000). They take that number (.625) and multiply it by the amount of your loss ($100,000) to arrive at the amount they will reimburse you for your claim. Like this:

$500,000 ÷ $800,000 x $100,000 = $62,500.

In this case, you would receive $62,500 (minus your deductible), rather than the full $100,000 amount of the loss. You’re being penalized $37,500 for violating your coinsurance clause.

We understand that coinsurance can be confusing, so please feel free to ask your L & M Financial Group agent any questions you have about the coinsurance clause of your property insurance policy. We’re also happy to help you review your current policy, or offer you a quote for a new policy if you need one. You may reach us by phone at 813-672-4100, or click here to email us.

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