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MA Homeowners Insurance: Understand the Options before You Buy

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The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends (as does Berry Insurance) that before activating or renewing your personal property policy, a Massachusetts homeowner should take time to understand their options and policy provisions.

1.     What would it cost to rebuild my home from scratch?

2.     How much personal property do I have?

3.     Do I have any additional exposures in the realm of personal liability? (For example: are you a police officer?)

4.     Is additional living expense coverage necessary?

5.     Which additional policies/coverages are worth investing in? (For example: flood coverage)

6.     Are there any discounts available for me?

As a homeowner with little insurance expertise, you might be wondering why these questions are important discussion points before activating or renewing your insurance policy. Well, simply put, your insurance policy can’t properly protect your assets without knowing a little bit about your personal situation.

Most people think, “I don’t need to worry, that’s why I have insurance”! Well yes, except if you don’t have the right insurance coverages, you might want to start worrying!

What would it cost to rebuild my home from scratch?

Most homeowners believe that if their home burns to the ground, their homeowners insurance will pay to rebuild their house. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. On a yearly basis an updated value of your property should be reported to the insurance company. If your property is on record with the insurance company as being worth $200,000 this is the amount you’d receive (less your deductible) in the event of a total loss (even if it was more expensive to rebuild). It’s a good idea to obtain a replacement cost estimate from a contractor or architect to ensure your home is adequately insured. (There may also be several policy provisions that could affect the amount of payment in this situation, such as coinsurance penalties and vacancy clauses.)

How much personal property do I have?

The principle is the same for your personal property; the limits need to be increased yearly to provide sufficient coverage. (Remember that new flat panel TV you bought on Black Friday?) Creating a home inventory is the most efficient way to do this; check out Creating a Home Inventory for your Massachusetts Home to learn more!

Do I have any additional exposures in the realm of personal liability?

You might be thinking, “why does my homeowners insurance company care what my profession is”, but in a world where people sue for everything your worth, it matters! People with extremely risky careers may need an additional policy to protect them, but most professions can be provided sufficient coverages within the liability section of the MA homeowners insurance policy. And don’t forget to discuss with your insurance agent any special organizations you are involved with. For example, do you serve on the Board of Directors for a non-profit? Do you serve on Town government? These exposures and more may create coverage exclusions under a typical policy.

Is additional living expense coverage necessary?

If your home was inhabitable, would you have somewhere to stay? If you already know that you’d be staying in a hotel, plan for that! This might involve increasing your property limits or just having a discussion with your Berry Insurance account manager to obtain coverage for the additional living expenses you may incur from a loss to your home.

Which additional policies/coverages are worth investing in?

Should you purchase flood insurance or earthquake insurance? This is a decision that you’ll want to examine carefully as any flooding or damage caused by an earthquake isn’t covered under your MA homeowners insurance policy. After having both a tornado and an earthquake hit Massachusetts in 2011, its better late than never to discuss these policies with your insurance agent.

Are there any discounts available for me?

Last but definitely not least; how can you save some money? Having all of your insurance policies with one company is a great way to save! Other ways include installing smoke detectors, having a burglar alarm, or even setting up a sprinkler system; depending upon the company and your unique situation, the discounts will vary. A Berry Insurance agent would be more than happy to help you to verify you’ve got the right coverages to protect you at a price you can afford.

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For more information about this topic, or to get some answers about your current insurance situation, please visit our virtual insurance agency at www.berryinsurance.com, stop by one of our two locations, or give us a call at (800) 941-3317.

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