Home insurance: What you need to know before buying a policy

If you’re shopping for home insurance, here are five questions you should ask about every policy you consider.

  1. Will this policy pay the full cost to repair my roof? Some policies pay up to the full cost to repair your roof. This is called replacement cost coverage. Some policies pay less if the roof is older or showing wear. This is called actual cash value coverage. Ask how your roof is covered. Learn about replacement cost and actual cash value.
  2. How much is my deductible? A deductible is an amount you must pay before your company pays. Ask your agent if the deductible for wind and hail damage is different than the deductible for other types of damages. If it is, you might pay more out-of-pocket if your house is damaged in a storm. Learn more about deductibles.
  3. Does this policy cover water damage? Make sure the policy covers sudden and accidental water damage, including damage caused by a freeze. Examples include a burst pipe or broken washer hose. If mold develops because of the damage, it might be covered. Policies don’t usually cover damage from gradual leaks or floods. Learn more about flood insurance.
  4. Do I need more coverage? Your policy will pay up to your policy’s limits for your house and the things you own. Make a home inventory to make sure you have enough coverage to replace your stuff. If you have expensive jewelry, collectibles, or other high-priced items, you might want more coverage.

    If you have a pool or buildings on your property, like storage sheds or other structures, ask your agent if those are covered. If not, ask if you can add coverage.
  5. How much does the policy pay if I can’t live in my house? Most policies have a limit for rent and food if you move out during repairs. Think about how long major repairs might take and how long your policy’s coverage will last. If you reach that limit, you’ll have to pay the rest yourself.

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