As a homeowner, having an insurance policy to protect your property is very important for your financial well-being. While most banks and mortgage lenders demand that you maintain coverage as long as you still owe them money, it’s wise to maintain a policy even after you’ve paid off your home. Without coverage, you can find life turned upside-down after an accident or disaster that you just can’t afford alone. Don’t let that happen to you. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t usually cost a ton, but the peace of mind it offers is tremendous.
Typical Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage in Texas
When choosing an insurance policy, it will likely be a packaged suite comprised of different coverages. Some of the usual types of coverage include the following:
- Dwelling coverage. This is for your house and any attached structures, such as a garage. It usually covers the house itself, as well as the electrical and plumbing systems, central heating, and central air conditioning.
- Personal property coverage. This covers your belongings, including appliances and electronics, furniture, clothes, and other items. Note that this coverage can sometimes even be used for certain items not necessarily located in the house when damaged, lost, or stolen. This may include items left in the car or bicycles, for example.
- Other structure coverage. This coverage will pay for any structures that are not attached to the house, such as fences, separate garages, sheds, or guest bungalows.
- Personal liability coverage. This protects you from the cost of a lawsuit when someone sues you for damages related to your property.
- Medical payment coverage. This coverage will pay for medical bills when someone is hurt on your property. It can also cover medical costs for someone injured by your pets, such as if your dog bites somebody.
What Kind of Damage Will Most Insurance Pay For?
Only certain types of damages will be covered by standard insurance policies. Check with your insurer to be sure, but most policies will cover losses due to the following:
- Explosions, fire, or smoke damage
- Accidental and sudden water damage
- Theft or vandalism
- Damage caused by vehicles and aircraft
- Wind, hail, and hurricane (unless you live in certain areas, particularly on the Gulf Coast)
There are also certain cases when most standard insurance policies will not pay for your losses. Some examples of common causes for damage that aren’t covered by normal policies include:
- Long-term water damage from seepage that could have been repaired
- Damage from frozen pipes in an unoccupied home, unless precautions were taken
- Other damages if the home is unoccupied for a length of time specified in the policy
- Pests, including termites and other insects, or rodents such as rats or mice
- Regular maintenance costs or accumulated wear-and-tear damage
You’re not necessarily on your own for all of those, though. Flood damage coverage may be available for purchase separately in your area and may be worth considering, especially if you live in an area that’s prone to flooding. You may also need to buy additional coverage to be protected from wind, hail, or hurricane damage in coastal regions.
Deductibles and Premium Costs
Typically, premium costs are reduced by accepting a plan with a higher deductible. But lately, insurance companies have been offering a new way to save money on your premium. They have begun offering sizable discounts up front in exchange for giving up your legal right to trial by jury. If you agree to this sort of plan, you will instead be bound only to use mediation and arbitration should you wish to dispute a claim.
Insurers are claiming to offer discounts of anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent, but before you agree to a plan like this, ask yourself this: where are the “savings” really coming from? You’ll likely find an answer that you don’t like when you receive only a fraction of the value of your loss when you make a claim. Your only recourse would be through mediators and arbitrators that are chosen and paid for by the insurance company, work in secrecy, and issue a final decision that cannot be appealed in front of a judge. Think long and hard before you agree to give up a constitutional right for what likely will be only a few hundred dollars per year.
Get Legal Help With Your Claim
If you’re having trouble with a property damage claim, the easiest way to get help is to contact an attorney who has experience dealing with insurance companies that are reluctant to pay. Contact Wayne Wright for today at 800-237-3334 for a free case evaluation, and we can discuss your legal options.