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Key questions to ask when shopping for home insurance

May 12, 2010

In the unfortunate scenario where you had to make a home insurance claim, would you be confident that you had the right coverage? Given the wide variety of coverage options offered by insurance companies, it is perhaps not surprising that so many consumers remain confused about what their policy covers and whether it is sufficient for their situation. To help put your mind at ease, the following are some of the most important questions worth asking your insurance professional when shopping for home insurance.

What is the building value of my home?
Insurance companies can choose from a small selection of industry approved calculation methods to determine the cost of rebuilding your home. These calculation methods differ from each other, which may cause you to see a difference in your rebuild costs from one insurance company to another. Do not hesitate to ask your insurance professional for further information on the calculation method being used, and what is being covered. Given that the cost to rebuild your home plays a significant role in determining the premium you pay for your home insurance, it may be worth shopping around for your home insurance with different insurance companies.

Do I have guaranteed replacement cost coverage?
The building value stated on your home insurance policy outlines the costs your insurance company will incur to rebuild your home. Although your insurance company increases the amount over the years to cover market increases in materials and labour, there can be a possibility of being “under-insured”. If you’re ever caught in this situation, guaranteed replacement coverage will ensure your home is rebuilt regardless of the set amount stated in your home insurance policy.  Not all policies contain this coverage, and rules around this coverage vary from one insurance company to another. Check with your insurance professional to find out if you have this coverage and the rules pertaining to it.

Do I have sewer back-up coverage?
It may come as a surprise to you that not all insurance policies include coverage for damages from sewer back-up into your home. Your insurance professional will be able to inform you if you have this coverage in your policy.  

What are the special limits on my policy?
Most insurance policies set a maximum amount, or a special limit, for what they are willing to pay to cover certain items such as, jewelry, tools, furs, bicycles, etc. These limits can vary from one insurance company to another. If the coverage of particular items are important to you, make sure that the policy you decide to purchase has sufficient coverage for your needs. You are able to choose to increase the amount of insurance for these items separately, if need be. If you are shopping around for home insurance, ensure you include this coverage for an apples-to-apples comparison.

Are all policy types the same?
Most insurance companies will offer more than one type of policy at various protection levels. For example, an insurance company may offer three types of policies: a Comprehensive Policy, a Broad Policy and a Fire Policy. The first type provides full coverage, the second provides average coverage and the last provides only basic coverage. The names of the various types of policies offered will vary from one insurance company to another. This is especially important to consider when shopping around for home insurance. The same policy name may not necessarily mean the same policy coverage from one insurance company to another.

With so many different coverage options and calculation methods in the market, shopping around for the right policy at the right price is always in your interest. Comparison sites like InsuranceHotline.com make it quick an easy to get quotes from competing insurers, instantly and for free.