Learning to Get a Quote for Homeowners Insurance
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UPDATED: Jan 15, 2015
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Before you begin, learn the definitions of the most important factors of homeowners insurance. There are four basic areas of homeowners insurance, and they cover different aspects of your life in your home.
First off, you have the actual dwelling in which you live. That is the major portion of the homeowners insurance policy.
It pays to rebuild your house if you face such catastrophic loss.
The key is to ensure that you purchase at least 80% of the value that it actually costs to build your house.
That differs from the housing market value.
The market value can rise and fall, as you may have noticed in the past few years. That is why it is vital you buy sufficient insurance not based on value, but on actual cost to rebuild.
The way that you determine how to rebuild is by hiring a contractor and a house appraiser. They will come up with an estimate for how much it would cost to construct your home in present day costs.
In addition, always by an inflation guard and ensure that you buy insurance for at least 80% of the value to rebuild. Inflation guard ensures your insurance pays the difference if construction costs skyrocket, say after a disaster when there is a shortage on construction materials.
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Four Areas to Cover
In addition to the dwelling, you will find coverage for your house also includes personal possessions, other structures, and liability coverage. If you are a condominium owner, your insurance differs a bit here.
In general, you will only have your condo. In addition, everything from the studs outward is covered by your homeowners association.
What you may not know, though, is that you are responsible for calling out maintenance issues for your board.
For instance, if your roof flashing fails and starts leaking into the roofline, down into the interior walls — your jurisdiction — you need to have the leak addressed. Otherwise, the water in the walls and your ceiling will grow mold and mildew.
Mold remediation is often a problem for homeowners, whether they own condominiums or free-standing houses.
Mold remediation is a costly and common house claim. However, if the damages are caused by neglect of common maintenance, your insurance may deny the claim, increase your insurance rates, cancel your insurance, or otherwise cause headaches for you.
That said, it is much better to have your homeowners association handle the exterior repairs in a timely manner. If your HOA ignores your requests, it probably is in violation of your condominium documents.
However, it is never a good sign if you get to the point of suing your HOA, because if you pay monthly dues and sue, it is something like suing yourself.
In other words, if you as a condo owner “win”, your dues go up and you are charged with paying out yourself, at least partially. Plus, your neighbors may not take kindly toward your lawsuit.
Other Costly and Common Claims
Mold and mildew remediation aside, there are other common costly claims. Dog bites is the number one liability for all homeowners. Consider investing in extra liability coverage just for dogs and you may be saving your own hide in the long run.
There are policies just for this purpose. If you have a breed of dog that is considered dangerous, you may want to invest in the extra insurance, just to be on the safe side.
Many types of natural disasters may befall homeowners all over the country. From flooding, which is not covered under your homeowners policy, to snow damage. Consider separate policies for flooding if you fall within the recognized flood areas listed on floodsmart.gov.
If you live in areas where hurricanes typically hit, then you need to purchase such insurance on your homeowners policy. There are added ways to prove that you are proactively aiming to lessen your susceptibility to such storms.
Consider visiting the State of Florida’s insurance website for tips on all kinds of disaster preparedness, including hurricanes.
It is important to mention earthquake coverage here too, for those areas of the country where such natural disasters may hit. It is separate coverage. Many homeowners in California were financially prevented from affording this line of insurance following the Northridge Earthquake.
Though, if you could not afford to build your house tomorrow from your own cash funds, would you be in worse shape? Probably. So, find out how you can afford earthquake coverage.
- Keep important insurance documents with you and offsite, outside of the way of danger
- Have your personal possessions inventory with you and offsite to facilitate the claims process
- Make all preparations to batten down the hatches to prevent damage when a storm is coming
Important Terms to Know for Insurance
When you put in for free homeowners insurance quotes, you will receive back a lot of information. Many insurers will contact you with a “buy my insurance” plea.
Almost all of the insurance estimates from the carriers will include something similar to your final policy declarations page.
The declarations page is what you receive when you purchase your coverage. It tells you how much your deductibles are.
The deductible is the amount you pay before your coverage pays out on claims. Liability is the one item that generally does not require any deductible.
That follows suit for any type of insurance. Liability is the insurance coverage that pays for individuals who are harmed on your property.
The liability usually occurs as a result of negligence.
Your personal property is what you have on your property and in your home. In regards to insurance coverage there are two types of insurance. Actual cash value is the value of the belongings you have.
The replacement cost coverage is what you ideally would like to purchase for personal property. It ensures that, regardless of inflation, or use, that your insurance replaces the belongings you had prior to a loss.
You may see actual value coverage on the dwelling, but generally possessions are replacement value. Actual value will also include depreciation for used items. For instance, you might see a new couch for $1,000. The same couch might re-sell for $100 in 10 years because it is used. That’s the difference between replacement cost and actual cost.
You will probably have your personal property insurance represent a percentage of your full homeowners coverage.
In addition to this, you may purchase additional insurance on a rider, for more expensive belongings.
If you have a house furnished with one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable antiques, then you probably need to consider such riders.
Buying insurance is not too difficult. The idea is to get as many quotes as possible to purchase the most affordable policy from the highest-quality insurer you can.
From there, you can work with agents to increase deductibles to create further savings on your policy.
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