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Coverage for Property and Possessions

Damage to the dwelling and the contents could be the biggest unexpected disaster awaiting a homeowner who has less coverage than needed. Most policies provide a stated maximum amount of coverage for the dwelling and another amount for contents.

Generally, dwelling coverage is based on replacement cost, which means that in the event of a total loss, the policy will provide reimbursement, up to the policy limit, to replace the structure. Ideally, a homeowner should buy enough insurance to completely rebuild the home, known as replacement value. This figure may not be the home's actual market value or what the owner originally paid for the home. This is especially true in a depressed or an inflated market or if the home is simply not replaceable to its condition prior to the loss. Replacement cost policies, which may pay over the policy limit to rebuild the home, may be available from your insurer.

To determine how much insurance to purchase, an accurate appraisal of the home for replacement cost should be made. Working with your insurance company is important in this process. Most insurers recommend or require that a homeowner insure the dwelling for 100 percent of its full replacement value. Some homes, very unique ones such as national register-types or very elaborate ones, cannot be insured for exact replacement since some features are not replaceable in either workmanship, materials or practical costs. The insurer and/or the agent is the best source for these issues.

Coverage for personal property is different. Most policies provide actual cash value coverage for contents which includes depreciation, or full value contents without depreciation. Actual cash value means that if a power surge blows out a 10-year-old television set, the homeowner should know what to expect. Unlike full value contents coverage, which would essentially provide a new television set, actual cash value coverage allows the insurance company to calculate the useful life of the item and then depreciate the item to present value. A depreciated 10-year-old television set would be insured for only a fraction of its original cost. A homeowner may want to consider replacement cost coverage to be sure that the contents are adequately insured.

In addition to making sure that contents are covered for replacement cost rather than actual cash value, homeowners should purchase additional coverage for items that would ordinarily be subject to loss limitations. Virtually all policies cover contents loss up to the policy limit for items that include furniture, clothing, toys, accessories such as lamps and other items which are used for decor. Explicit limitations are set in the policy for high-cost items such as jewelry, fine art, furs, electronics, collectibles, oriental rugs and antiques. If a thief comes in and steals a two-carat engagement ring, it will not be covered well enough without what is commonly known as a personal property rider to cover specific, costly items.

For more information on home owners insurance visit our specialist site below.

Home Owners Specialist

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