Published: October 2015
Q: When should I talk with an agent about homeowners insurance?
A: It's important that you talk with your agent not just when you first buy your home or need to file a claim, says Ron Bansky, an Allstate agent in Westfield and Princeton Junction, New Jersey.
“We recommend touching base with your agent once a year, no matter what,” Bansky says. “Many things can change in your life, and you might not realize you either need additional insurance or qualify for new discounts.”
The following situations are examples of times when Bansky suggests talking with your insurance agent:
You’ll need to take out a fresh policy for your new home, of course. However, Bansky suggests talking to your agent before you’re officially under contract for the new house. An agent can offer objective information about the neighborhood into which you might move, estimate your new insurance costs and let you know if you’ll need any add-ons like flood coverage if the house is in a flood plain, suggests Bansky. Some of that information could help you decide whether the new home is right for you.
Adding a new room to your home, creating a luxury master bath or renovating your kitchen? Undertaking projects such as these may be a good time to review your homeowners insurance coverage limits. Why? “You will want to be sure your entire home — including the new or remodeled spaces — are properly insured so they can be replaced if your home were damaged or destroyed,” says Bansky. And, Bansky,
adds, some home improvements may actually result in a lower premium.
Converting an unfinished basement to a home theater or other functional space means you could have additional electronics and furniture that may now need protection from basement-specific issues like sewer/water back-ups, says Bansky. A certain amount of this coverage may already be included in your homeowners policy, but it’s important to check with your agent. And, if you're not sure, ask your agent whether your policy limits are high enough to cover your new belongings.
Getting engaged? That beautiful new ring may warrant a separate jewelry “rider” that you can add on to your homeowners policy, according to Bansky. This coverage helps insure a specific high-value item for its full value in the event that it's lost or stolen. This coverage, also known as scheduled personal property, may also help protect art or other expensive items like professional musical equipment. Your agent can help you determine whether you may benefit from any additional coverage to protect these items.
Depending on the kind of business you’re running and whether customers will come to your home, you may want to talk with your agent about purchasing a separate business owner’s policy.
As fun as a pool or trampoline can be, features like these may also increase the risk of someone being injured on your property. Your agent can help you decide whether you may need additional liability coverage (or even a personal umbrella policy) that may help pay for medical costs and legal fees if a visitor gets hurt and you’re found legally responsible.
Congratulations! Leaving the work world often qualifies you for a homeowners insurance discount, says Bansky. Notify your agent about this milestone and ask how it may affect your insurance rates.
If you haven’t reviewed your homeowners policy with your agent in a while, it’s worth checking to see if you qualify for any discounts. “Your agent can ask you questions that may save you some money,” says Bansky. “We can often offer policy discounts for things you take for granted, like having an alarm system, deadbolts, smoke detectors and more.”
For more information about your homeowners insurance policy, contact your local agent.