"The roof is gone, trees on the highway, cables everywhere. We need help. We need help." Henry Nixon is just one of millions victimized by recent hurricanes in Florida. But not all will be able to rebuild what they once had.
"I think the most important thing a person needs to look at is how they take care of a loss when they have one." Jim White is a Farmers Insurance agent at White Insurance in Lubbock. He says its tragedies like those in Florida that remind us how important homeowners insurance is. "You don't want to find out what's covered after a loss. You want to know before a loss so you can plan for it."
First, find an agent that will discuss your options and explain different policies to you. Most policies cover the "dwelling" or the actual structure of the home, but you want to make sure what's inside is covered as well. That's called content coverage. "The insurance company asks that you justify that loss to them and that simply means you need to tell them what your loss is. It's not automatic, like it is with a dwelling."
The easiest thing to do is go through your home and create an inventory of all your belongings. White says, "That includes the food in your refrigerator, the books on your shelves, bed sheets in your drawer, pictures on the wall. You name it. It's everything you have in your home." Some people even choose to take video or photographs to include in the inventory. Then give that to your insurance agent so he or she will have it if you need to make a claim. But don't expect to get what you originally paid for each item. "If you carry replacement costs, coverage on home insurance, you're telling your insurance company I have a value, here's what it is. For example if you have a computer, you bought three years ago, the cost is $3,000. You can buy it now for $1,000 a faster computer with more equipment. They're going to give you $1,000. That's replacement cost."
Even if you don't own your home, you can still protect yourself with renters' insurance. If you don't, you'll be liable. "Landlords do not extend any coverage to personal coverage or personal liability so you're going to be responsible to that yourself."
Before you purchase a policy, make sure you know exactly what will be covered and how you will be reimbursed in case of a loss. Safety solutions to protect you and your valuables.