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The www.FedPrimeRate.com Personal Finance Blog and Magazine

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Get Acquainted with Your Home Insurance Policy, Before The 2006 Fire/Storm Season Starts

Here's an interesting statistic from the good folks at the Homeowners Consumer Center: A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. homeowners by the Homeowners Consumer Center found that less than 15% understood their home insurance policy, or the areas of homeowner's insurance coverage they should have. Yikes!

With the 2006 Fire/Storm season just around the corner, homeowners should do their best to prepare themselves for the worst by understanding their policy, and making changes to it, if necessary.

Further details, along with some other great home insurance tips, can be found below in the snippet from today's press release:

"The Homeowners Consumer Center is making and urgent appeal for all US homeowners to check their homeowners insurance policy, before the start of the 2006 hurricane, storm or fire season. After surveying over 1000 homeowners representing every US state, it was discovered that less than 15% of those surveyed, understood their homeowners insurance policy, and or the areas of coverage the typical homeowner should have. From this survey, the Homeowners Consumer Center ( Http://HomeownersConsumerCenter.Com ) has come up with a very simple list of do's & don'ts for every homeowner, when it comes to their homes insurance coverage. as follow:

Do's & Don'ts

1. If you live in a state on or close to the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Coast, Hawaii, a river, stream or an area prone to flooding, get flood insurance coverage, and make certain you get the maximum insurance coverage ($250,000).

2. If you live in a state on, or close to the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Coast, Hawaii, a river, stream or an area prone to flooding, be certain to get the $100,000 supplemental flood coverage. This will cover personal property loss due to flooding. 95% of the homeowners surveyed were not even aware this type of coverage exists. In the event your home is destroyed by flooding, contents coverage will pay up to $100,000 for personal property replacement. The typical homeowners policy & or standard flood insurance exclude personal property. To see if your home is in a flood plain or potential flood plain go to FEMA's web site.

3. Make certain your homeowners policy has at least one years coverage for 'loss of use', for at least $2000 per month. Loss of use will help pay rent, or living expenses in the event your home is rendered unusable as a result of a flood, fire or storm damage.

4. Of the over 1000 homeowners surveyed, only 3% knew if their homeowners insurance policy has 'full replacement' coverage. In other words, if the house was destroyed by wind & rain, fire or flood, they were not sure if the policy called for actual replacement. Further complicating the matter; many homeowners don't understand their insurance coverage because it was added on, when they financed or refinanced their home by the mortgage lender. In other words they have little or no idea of what is covered or what is not covered on the policy.

5. Only 9% of homeowners surveyed knew that certain types of valuables (jewelry, art, guns, etc) must be included on a separate sheet provided by the insurance agent/insurance company. These items must be listed on your policy and agreed to by your agent & insurance carrier. If you do not have this additional documentation, in most instances there is no insurance coverage in the event of a loss. If you have expensive jewelry, art, antiques, collectibles, guns, etc call your insurance agent & get them listed on your homeowners policy.

6. Don't do business with an insurance company you have never heard of before. Before signing on with an insurance carrier, check with your states insurance commissioner about the company, and or check the internet for complaints about your current or proposed company.

7. When looking for an insurance agent for your homeowners coverage ask around to find out who has a good reputation, or a reputation for excellent customer service. If you ever have a significant loss related to your home, make certain you have a good insurance agent/company in your corner.

8. Don't forget to take pictures of every area of your home (exterior & interior-actual building & contents). This way you can prove to the insurance company, you had what you say you had, and special or unique features of the home/contents are shown.

9. Try to keep receipts or proof that you had what you say you had in your home. After Katrina, many homeowners had no way of proving they had an upgraded refrigerator, TV set, computer system, stove, etc. Receipts will help you prove to the insurance company what your homes condition was prior to the loss and or what you had in the house.

10. Don't keep important records like insurance policies, an inventory of your home contents, pictures of your home (exterior & interior), financial documents, receipts, in your home, etc, unless they are in a secure, fire-proof and water-proof container. In this instance the Homeowners Consumer Center strongly recommends a bank safety deposit box.

The Homeowners Consumer Center is dedicated to protecting the American Dream for all US homeowners. Their goal is to educate homeowners in order to protect their assets and to educate the homeowner so they get the right product for their situation or circumstance. Their web site is located at http://HomeownersConsumerCenter.Com. The Homeowners Consumer Center also offers useful consumer information on numerous other aspects of homeownership. Homeowners and or consumers are encouraged to share this information with their friends, co-workers and neighbors."

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