Make Your California Homeowners Insurance Review Part of Your Spring Cleaning
You know you have homeowners insurance because, well, you own a California home. So … you have to have a policy. Right?
The reason you might be a little shaky on the details is likely because your homeowners coverage is probably tied in with your mortgage. You make one monthly house payment and let your mortgage company distribute your insurance premium when and where it’s due.
You probably have the actual policy … somewhere. Have you read it lately? Do you understand what your home insurance policy covers – and what it doesn’t? Don’t worry, we’re not trying to guilt trip you. Most of us have very little knowledge of what’s actually in that policy. After all, it’s not likely to be the most fascinating reading you’ll ever do.
Still, it’s important simply because lives and situations (and even California houses) change over time. That’s why we recommend adding a homeowners policy review to all those other tasks you’ll take on as part of spring cleaning this year and every year. You might find that it’s at least as interesting as vacuuming the drapes.
Here’s what you should look for in a good policy review.
Changes to Your California Property Since Your Last Review
Changes to your property can take on a number of forms.
Perhaps you brought in construction teams to build a swimming pool, tool shed, gazebo, deck, or other outbuilding or exterior feature that might have added value to your property.
Maybe you renovated the kitchen or turned your dungeon of a basement into a beautiful rec room and workout center.
The point is, there’s a lot you can do to the interior or exterior of your property that makes your place more valuable. This is a good thing when it comes to appraising your home and putting it on the market, but it can be a very bad thing if your home burns to the ground in a California wildfire or from an electrical system malfunction and your insurance claim only pays a fraction of what it’s now worth. And yet, you can’t blame your carrier if you didn’t tell anyone what you’ve made in improvements.
Pricey Possessions Have Accumulated Over Time
Have you gone to an art sale in trendy Carmel-by-the-Sea and bought something expensive? Maybe you picked up an antique or two at Stars Antique Market in Hermosa Beach. Have you added some jewelry or pricey electronics over the years? If you did so gradually, you might not have even noticed how much you’ve added to your personal wealth — until you have to make a homeowners claim.
Your standard home policy puts limits on the value of your possessions and what your insurer will pay out in the event of loss or damage. How much? That’s what you’ll find out in reading your policy or consulting with your homeowners insurance broker.
That’s an important conversation to have. You might find that an inexpensive policy add-on can offer you a sense of financial security you didn’t even know you needed until conducting your “spring cleaning review.”
Should Your California Home Insurance Policy Have Replacement Cost or Actual Cost Value?
Which do you have? Just like renters insurance, standard homeowners insurance policies typically offer actual cost value. This is the amount that your household goods are now worth if they must be replaced.
The replacement cost value is what it would cost you to replace the item with an equivalent new item.
What’s the difference? Let’s look at a four-year-old laptop computer that gets stolen. If you have an actual cost value policy, you’ll get paid what that used computer is worth on today’s market. In other words, you’ll be reimbursed so you can buy another four-year-old computer.
With a replacement cost value policy, you’ll be reimbursed for what you’d have to pay for a new version of that make and model.
Let your insurance agent crunch the numbers, but you’ll likely see that upgrading to a replacement cost value policy costs very little in additional premiums to gain a whole lot more in claims protection.
Make Sure You Get ‘Paid’ for Your Home’s Safety Improvements
Have you made it less likely that your California home can be looted or suffer fire or smoke damage? Make sure your home insurance agent knows about it if you have made such changes.
Smart home features like burglar alarms, smoke detectors, and camera surveillance systems can make your home safer — and less likely to be subject to claims. You deserve credit for that. Just like with auto insurance, you can receive discounts for making it less likely you’ll be filing a claim. Bundling your auto and home insurance policies can lead to an even greater discount.
You can get discounts from many homeowners insurance companies. Just call your agent and discuss the safety improvements you’ve made. You might be pleased to find that the changes not only made your family feel more secure but also resulted in lower homeowners insurance premiums. That would certainly be good news!
Bottom Line: Read That Policy and Talk With Your California Agent
A good homeowners insurance agent works hard to keep your business. Your agent can keep you happy and secure by sharing several ways you can earn lower rates and/or more significant coverage.
If you’re looking for a new policy, you can gain a valuable advantage by working with an independent insurance agent.
An agent who works for one insurance company can only offer you policies from that insurer. An independent agent, on the other hand, has contracted with several major carriers and can go shopping for competitive rates and policy features that work best for you.
Your agent can make the language and buzzwords in your policy make sense, and answer all your questions. So make your policy review and a meetup with your independent homeowners insurance agent a standard component of your spring cleaning. You might find all kinds of ways to save or extend your family’s financial security.
Find Affordable Home Insurance in California Today
Put a chat with an independent Cost-U-Less Insurance agent on your spring cleaning checklist. Call us at (800) 390-4071 or get a quick quote online. You’ll also find a California Cost-U-Less location near you for a sit-down with an agent.