Questions to Ask Your Agent About House Insurance

What is covered in the policy? What is NOT Covered?
These are the two most important questions that you should ask about house insurance policies. Never assume that something is covered; always ask the agent to show you where the specific item is covered in the policy. You should do this because additional special coverage is often required to cover certain claims. Many home insurance policies will not cover earthquake damage, for example. Jewelry, antiques, collectibles, and many other high value items are not covered by basic and broad coverage policies. Always make sure you know exactly what is covered by the policy.

Are any discounts available?
You should ask this because many insurers offer a wide variety of discounts on house insurance policies. Discounts are often available if you have a burglar or fire alarm system in your home. You can often get discounts on house insurance by changing the locks on your doors or putting bars on your windows. The kind of door or lock you currently have on your house could qualify you for a discount. Ask about discounts because many insurers will only make them available if you ask. Manhy companies have discounts for buying more than one policy from them, so you might be able to get lower term life insurance rates as well as save on house insurance.

Is Loss of Use Coverage available?
You should try to get loss of use coverage because it covers the cost of housing if your home is destroyed or left uninhabitable. If you don’t have loss of use coverage, you and your family could be left without a place to live. A standard house insurance policy should provide you with loss of use coverage worth 20% of the dollar value of the policy. If loss of use coverage isn’t available, you should consider getting a different policy.

What is the consumer complaint rate?
The number of customer complaints lodged against an insurance company can show you how good that company is. You should be able to learn this by contacting the Better Business Bureau and the agency that regulates insurance in your state. Some agents will tell you this statistic, but many will not. It is generally best to avoid a company that gets a lot of customer complaints because excessive complaints are a sign of poor customer service and other problems.

How are claims processed?
This is an important question that many people don’t ask until they actually have to file a claim. You should know how to file a claim before you ever need to do so. A modern insurance company should have a website where you can file claims electronically. They should have procedures in place to process claims in case of disasters or other widespread emergencies. If you ask, the agent should be able to walk you through the claims process. You should know the claim processing procedure, so you will have no trouble filing a claim.

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