Safeguarding your home is critical, as it is likely one of your largest investments. Homeowners insurance protects your home, its contents and other assets in the event of a fire, theft, accidents and other natural disasters.

A standard homeowners insurance policy will provide the insurer coverage for costs related to:

• Damage to interior and exterior of you home
• Loss or damage to personal belongings
• Personal liability for damage or injuries caused by you or your family
• Hotel or house rental while your home is being repaired

An important factor to consider when selecting a homeowners policy is how much coverage you need. Your policy should cover enough to rebuild your home if it were to be destroyed completely. Your local insurance agent has the tools to help you figure out the replacement cost on your home. In addition, if you have things of exceptional value such as art pieces or family heirlooms, you likely need to purchase additional coverage for those items. Your insurance agent should suggest keeping any receipts for big item purchases like TVs, stereos, appliances along with owner manuals that give the model and serial #'s. You can also video tape your home, making sure to open closets and include personal property in garages, attics and sheds and keep the tape off premises in case of a total loss.

Be sure to consider the location of your home. Most standard polices will cover damage to your home as a result of fires or fallen trees during storms but will likely not cover damage from earthquakes or floods. You can purchase coverage for these events. Homeowners living in an officially recognized high risk are for floods are required by law to have flood insurance. To find out your flood risk, please contact your local agent. Homeowners living in areas extremely susceptible to earthquakes are also often required to have extra coverage. Homeowners living in areas that might be damaged by hurricanes, we need to make sure they have coverage for wind and hail on their homeowners policy. Some companies will exclude that coverage and you would need to purchase it through the state that you are living in.

Finally, when deciding which insurance policy to choose consider the deductible. Like all other types of insurance, you should opt for the highest deductible you can afford, as this will cause your insurance premium to be lower. There are also many factors that you may not be aware of that can change the cost or coverage such as owning a trampoline or having certain breeds of dogs. Additionally, you may save on your policy if you have an alarm system or with updates to an older home.

For additional information on homeowners insurance, please contact your local independent insurance agent.

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