Ten Things to Look For in a Home Insurance Policy

There are many different coverage options available in a home insurance policy. Which ones do you really need, and which ones can you go without? Let Memorial Insurance guide you through the small print!

Really Need

  1. Enough Coverage: As a rule of thumb, it will cost at least $100 per square foot to rebuild your home. So, if your home is 2,000 square feet, you will need an absolute minimum of $200,000 in coverage. If your home is custom built, or uses higher-than-average-quality materials, the replacement cost will be higher.
  2. Replacement Cost: If the worst should happen, you want the insurance company to pay the full amount that it costs to rebuild your home and replace everything inside it. So the policy needs to state Replacement Cost, for the dwelling and the roof. This also applies to your Personal Property (coverage C) – otherwise you’ll get only Actual Cash Value for your belongings, which will be a lot less than the items will cost to replace.
  3. High Liability Coverage Limits: The difference in premium between $25,000 and $300,000 in liability coverage is just a handful of dollars per year, so you should go for the highest available amount to make sure you are well protected if you are found legally responsible for someone else’s medical bills or lawyer’s fees.
  4. Low Deductibles: The deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket before the insurance takes care of the rest. In a natural disaster-prone area such as Houston, insurance claims due to weather events are common, so it makes sense to have low deductibles. Standard in this area for good policies is a 2% deductible for wind, hail, and hurricane, and 1% for all other perils. 1%/1% is also available in many areas away from the coast.
  5. Water Coverages: These include water backup, slow seepage, and foundation coverage, and are included as standard on an HOB policy form but have to be added (“endorsed”) to other kinds of policies. They are generally inexpensive to add, but give you protection against very expensive potential losses.

Go Without

  1. “Actual Cash Value”: Some insurance carriers (including several very well known household names) depreciate your roof. In other words, you’ll receive less from the insurance company than the amount it will cost to replace your roof, and the potential payout shrinks every year as your roof ages. If your roof is 10 years old and you have an Actual Cash Value policy, you’ll receive next to nothing for your roof claim – or even nothing at all, after your deductible is taken into account. Also see above for what Actual Cash Value means for your personal property.
  2. Personal Injury Coverage: This sounds great until you realize that it does NOT mean physical injury to a person. “Personal Injury” is coverage for slander, libel, and other lawsuits that most homeowners will be very unlikely to face. In other words, with this one you’re paying extra for something you don’t need. Tricky agents love to add this to a policy because it sounds like it offers a lot of coverage.
  3. Extended Replacement Cost: If your home is insured for $200,000, and you have 25% extended replacement cost coverage, this does not mean you will receive $250,000 from the insurance if your home burns to the ground. Extended replacement cost only applies if an entire area is affected (for example by a major hurricane) and the ensuing demand drives up the cost of labor and building materials, so your home costs more to rebuild at that particular time than it normally would. Adding extended replacement cost is a devious way that agents “add coverage” without actually giving you the correct protection. If your home is going to cost $250,000 to replace, opt instead for that full amount of coverage under the “dwelling A” section of your policy.
  4. Identity Theft: This is one of a number of optional endorsements available on a home insurance policy. If you want this kind of coverage, it is best to buy a specific policy and not mix it in with the homeowners insurance. Otherwise, you might find you are having to make an identity theft claim under your home insurance which can potentially increase your premium on renewal.
  5. Wind/Hail/Hurricane Exclusion: If you live in a coastal area (Galveston, Brazoria, and some parts of Harris) and you receive a home insurance quote that looks too good to be true, then it probably is! Some companies won’t insure your home in these areas unless windstorm coverage is excluded, due to the high risk of hurricanes. So while you’ll be covered for fire, lightning, vandalism and malicious mischief, you’ll be getting zilch from your insurance if the next Category 4 takes your roof with it. Thankfully, Memorial Insurance has many options for coastal homes, including specialist companies that do include wind in high risk areas, as well as standalone windstorm policy options.

If you have any questions, give your agent at Memorial Insurance a call and we’d be happy to explain further!

Excess Flood Coverage: Do You Need It?

As the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey looms ever closer, the thoughts of many homeowners are turning to flood insurance. Floods are one of the most common and most expensive home hazards, and it pays to make sure you’re properly protected, especially in this era of ever more violent hurricanes and unpredictable rainfall patterns.

What Kind of Flood Insurance Do I Need?

While the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers suitable coverage for most homes, people with high-value properties ought to consider supplementing their NFIP policy with Excess Flood insurance. If there is potential for a flood to cause more than $250,000 of damage to the structure of your home, and $100,000 of damage to its contents (the maximum coverage limits available under the NFIP), then Excess Flood insurance is worth considering.

How Does Excess Flood Work?

In a nutshell, an Excess Flood policy kicks in once the limits of your coverage under the NFIP have been exhausted, so you typically won’t pay another deductible. You also get some attractive additional coverage options, including loss of use, which pays for you to live somewhere else if your home is rendered uninhabitable due to flood.

How Much Does It Cost?

Excess Flood is available from private insurers and is not subsidized by the NFIP, which means it costs more than an NFIP policy. Premiums vary depending on the location and construction of your home, the foundation type, and even the way your home faces! But on average, reckon on it being at least twice as expensive as the equivalent amount of NFIP coverage.

How Can I Find Out More?

Give your agent at Memorial Insurance a call on 713-461-8272, and we will be glad to answer any questions you may have, run an Excess Flood quote, or simply help you decide whether this coverage is necessary for your home.

Is Hail Damage Covered by my Homeowners’ Insurance?

The exterior of your home is constantly being exposed to the elements. While it is designed to withstand all types of weather and protect you while you remain cozy and comfortable inside, there are times when damage can occur. Thunderstorms bring heavy rains and strong winds but they also bring damaging hail that can poke holes in your roof and siding, as well as crack or even break your windows. In Houston, TX, residents can call on Memorial Insurance Agency if they have any questions about hail damage.

More Common Than You Think

Hail can cause extensive damage to your roof, especially if it’s older and already in need of repair. There are times when the rain is so heavy, many people don’t realize hail is also present. Hail damage is much more common than many people believe. That is why most types of hail damage are covered by your homeowners’ insurance policy. While hail doesn’t occur all that often, it can wreak havoc on a home, damaging your roof, siding, and windows.

Call An Inspector

If you believe your home may have suffered some hail damage, don’t wait to take action. Call an inspector today. They can evaluate your roof and identify any potential hail damage that could lead to significant problems in the future. Making the necessary repairs promptly will ensure there is no further damage inside the home.

The agents of Memorial Insurance Agency have the answers Houston, TX residents need if they are concerned about hail damage. Call and schedule your meeting today to find out what types of damage your homeowners’ policy covers. They will give you the information you need so you will have peace of mind knowing your home is protected.

 

4 Reasons to Get a QUALITY Auto Insurance Policy

Some people think auto insurance is all about price. Those people get the cheapest possible policy because – obviously – no one wants to pay more for insurance than they have to, right?

Wrong! While, naturally, price is a major consideration when it comes to choosing car insurance, it is by no means the only consideration. Here are four excellent reasons to spend a little extra for a quality policy:

  1. You get higher coverages: The difference in price between state minimum liability limits (30/60 in Texas), and something a lot better, is often surprisingly small. It makes sense to spend just a few extra dollars each month, for the peace of mind that you have enough coverage in the insurance to pay for an accident. So, you should pick the 100/300 limits as an absolute minimum. Many “cheap” auto insurance companies offer only the lowest coverage limits, which won’t go far if you’re involved in a crash with a Lexus or a Tesla – and especially if someone gets injured. Guess who they come after for the money, once your insurance limits have been exhausted? Yes, that’s right: you, and everything you own.
  2. You get broader coverages: Let’s say your son or daughter is home from college for a few weeks, or your friend desperately needs to borrow your vehicle. You don’t want to have to add them to your policy, just so they can have occasional use of your car. Quality auto insurance policies, such as those offered by Safeco, Travelers or Progressive, cover anyone to drive your car with your permission. Cheap policies offer no coverage for any driver except those named on the policy.
  3. You get a high-quality claims service: If you’re ever involved in an accident, the last thing you need is a lot of hassle to get your car towed or repaired. The top auto insurance companies have a fast, efficient claims service, and they work with networks of high-quality repair shops. So you’ll be back on the road in no time, and with the minimum of heartache.
  4. You can lock in to a rate for 12 months: Safeco, Travelers, Progressive and other high-quality auto insurance carriers lock in your premium for an entire year. Most cheap auto insurance companies, including Geico, offer only 6-month policies. You don’t have to be a genius to guess what might happen when insurance companies have the opportunity to increase your rates after six months!

Give your agent at Memorial Insurance a call today, and we’ll be happy to explain your current coverages, or offer a comparative quote with a quality auto insurance carrier. Safe driving!