Buying a new home can be a scary prospect. Sure, it’s great to finally have a place to call your own, but you want to make sure that everything is protected. In fact, most mortgage lenders will want you to have proof of home insurance before you buy the house. So, how do you know what types of coverage you need? How do you know you’re not being gypped? What do all of those words floating around the home insurance space mean? Here’s are 7 basic home insurance terms to help get you started.
What is a Premium?
Of all the home insurance terms in our list, this one may be the one you’re most concerned with. Your home insurance premium is the amount you have to pay monthly just to have insurance coverage. Some premiums may seem a bit expensive, but your monthly payment amount usually depends on the amount of your deductible as well (more on that in a minute). It also depends on a few factors about your home, such as:
- The amount it will take to replace your home (again, more on this later)
- Your claims history
- Your credit score
- The age of your home
- How close you are to a fire department (nope – we’re not kidding.)
- Your roof (still not kidding)
- If you have a pool or a trampoline
What is a Deductible?
The deductible for your homeowners’ policy is the amount that you’ll have to pay out of your pocket before your carrier will start covering your claim.
But wait, why am I paying for insurance if I still have to pay for the damages to my house?
Say a tree falls onto your roof, and the combined cost to fix your roof and remove the tree is $8,000, BUT your deductible is only $1,500. Yes, you would have to pay the full $1,500 deductible for the first part of the repairs, but you won’t have to pay for the other $6,500 (which is pretty nice!).
When talking about how your deductible relates to your premium – it’s a bit of a balancing act. Usually, if you have a high premium, you’ll have a lower deductible; and if you have a high deductible, you’ll usually have a lower premium.
This is because your insurance company assumes that you’re willing to take on smaller issues yourself and leave the bigger stuff to them, instead of filing a claim for each little thing. For example, if you have a $1,600 claim and your deductible is $1,500, you’re more than likely just going to foot the cost of the bill instead of processing it through your insurance.
What is My Declarations Page?
I do declare! – that your declarations page is the general summary of what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers. It tells you the who, what, when, and why something is covered, from structures on your property to the belongings inside. However, your declarations page only offers a general idea of what your insurance covers. If you want to take a deep dive into your entire policy, you’ll have to look at your Insuring Agreement (which is next on our list of home insurance terms.)
What is an Insuring Agreement?
The insuring agreement of a homeowner’s policy is the more detailed list of the ways your coverage can handle losses. For instance, your declarations page may tell you that your policy can help cover storm damages, but your insuring agreement may outline certain types of storms that are covered. In this example, the types of storms listed would be considered a “peril.”
What is a Home Insurance Peril?
A peril in insurance terms is simply anything that can cause damage to your home. Perils will usually be natural disasters, but they can be anything that is making you file a home insurance claim. It’s important to take the definition of “peril” seriously, though. Filing a bunch of home insurance claims for small damages to your home, like a single broken pipe that’s didn’t cause any larger damages, can raise your rates when you renew.
There are two main types of perils plans that can be a part of your homeowners’ policy: Named Perils and Open Perils. Named perils policies can help you repair or replace items and fixtures in your house, but only for the perils specifically listed in your home insurance policy. Usually, named perils policies can help you cover damages due to:
- Rain damage
- Vehicles & Aircrafts
However, named perils policies usually don’t list and won’t cover things like flood and earthquake damage. For those types of damages, you could either add an endorsement to your policy, or you could opt for an open perils policy.
Open perils policies can help you cover the repair or replacement costs of your belongings in any perilous event, as long as it doesn’t explicitly exclude that event. For example, say your home is a part of the Marvel universe and the Hulk happened to smash through your walls. If you have an open perils policy, your insurance plan can help you pay to repair your home if superhero damage isn’t specifically listed as something that your carrier won’t cover.
What is ACV or RCV?
When replacing the items in your home, your policy will either cover it for ACV or RCV.
ACV stands for Actual Cash Value, which means that your insurance can help reimburse you for the value of the items at the time of the loss – meaning that you would get the depreciated value of the items. For example, say you bought an oven 5 years ago for $900, and it was damaged by a covered peril. An ACV plan could only reimburse you for $500 because the value of the oven has depreciated since you’ve been using it.
RCV stands for Replacement Cost Value, which means that your insurance could reimburse you for the cost of replacing the items you lost at today’s prices. So, you would be able to replace that oven you lost without having to worry about how much your original oven depreciated in value.
What is an insurance endorsement/rider?
In the insurance world, an endorsement or rider is just a fancy name for a plan add-on. They’re pretty handy if you want to increase your coverage or add something on to your insurance policy, but you don’t actually want to increase the entirety of your coverage.
However, endorsements can also limit your policy. For example, you can add an endorsement to your plan to cover an engagement ring, but the insurance company can add an endorsement that says they won’t cover the ring if it’s older than 60 years old.
What is a limit of coverage for my homeowners’ insurance policy?
This is a very important one on our list of home insurance terms. Like with all things, there are limits and boundaries to your homeowners’ insurance. The limit of coverage for your home insurance plan is the maximum amount of funds that your insurance company can provide for you during a policy period (or the amount of time that your policy is effective).
Some insurance policies may have overall coverage limits while others may have certain coverage limits for certain parts of the plan. Coverage limits will depend on your home, but most home insurance policies have limits of thousands and/or millions of dollars. Limits of coverage also vary from carrier to carrier and from plan to plan, so it’s important to take a look at your declarations page if you want to know an exact dollar amount.
These are just some of the basic home insurance terms you may hear when talking about insurance with your agent. There are tons of other insurance names and phrases to consider, and it can be daunting to try to navigate them all on your own.
That’s why our insurance professionals are here to make things easy. They’re the best at breaking down any other home insurance terms you want to know to best protect your house. They’re also masters at breaking down the risks that you face, finding multiple quotes for the policies you need, explaining clearly why these plans fit you, and saving you money through it all!
Call us today or fill out our online form to start speaking with a professional about the easy, affordable, customized homeowners’ insurance you deserve.