Your home is your castle. Whether it's a studio apartment, a mobile home or a 3,800-square-foot custom-built beauty, it's your castle and it needs protection.
That protection is homeowners insurance.
Homeowners insurance is a package policy. This means it covers damage to your property and your liability (or legal responsibility) for any injuries and property damages you or members of your family cause to other people. The standard homeowners insurance policy includes four essential types of coverage: coverage for the structure of your home; coverage for personal belongings; liability protection; and additional living expenses in the event you are temporarily unable to live in your home because of a fire or other insured disaster.
Derek Kartchner is vice president of business development for International Insurance Group Inc., an independent company that represents multiple insurance companies. He said different policies can cover different types of dwellings no matter what the circumstance.
"Here is an example for someone who rents and is only concerned about replacing personal possessions and does not need to be concerned about the building," he said. "List everything in your apartment and then pretend to flip the apartment upside down. Whatever falls out is content and those items need to be insured in one comprehensive policy."
Kartchner said insurance policies can be created to meet specific needs to cover additional factors. For instance, mobile home owners tend to buy insurance policies with traditional home insurance companies, many of whom do not provide specialized mobile home coverage.
"Therefore, these individuals need to ensure they have the best coverage available and should thoroughly review their policy with their agent," he said.
A serious issue in Southern Nevada is vacant homes. Local insurance agent Christopher Sutter of the Christopher Sutter Insurance Agency in Las Vegas knows all about vacant homes.
"I have clients who buy homes and want to refurbish them," he said. "I tell them that if the home sits vacant for more than 30 days, it cannot be insured. But what is really unique to Las Vegas is how home insurance is handled when someone buys a home."
According to Sutter, once a home is sold, home insurance, in many cases, is chosen by the lender and the homeowner is not necessarily involved in selecting his or her insurance company.
"What happens," Sutter explained, "is that an insurance agent puts together a proposal based on info from the lender and it may not be what is best for the person buying the home. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the buyer to speak to the insurance agent. A home is probably the most expensive item he or she is ever going to buy, and it needs the proper coverage."
While most lenders apply a standard policy, it's best to reconsider additional coverage in case something happens. And, as we know, stuff does happen.
Another Las Vegas agent, Mark Citsay of State Farm Insurance, advises home owners to complete a home inventory to expedite the claims process after any insured theft, damage or loss.
"A home inventory is usually a list of the insurable items in your home along with information about each item's value," said Citsay. "One way to create this list is to make a video walk-through or take a series of photographs. The inventory should support the claims process for events ranging from the total loss by fire to the burglary of a few specific items. Pay special attention to the most valuable items, such as antiques, jewelry and electronic equipment. Also, don't forget to include items in your basement, attic, garage and any detached structures such as tool sheds. Make copies and keep them in a bank safe deposit box or other secure location away from your home."