Hey Boomers – when was the last time you looked at your homeowners insurance?

Written by Posted On Sunday, 03 September 2017 15:11

You pay your homeowner insurance premium every month, like clockwork, and have been for decades. If you still have a mortgage on your home, you very likely don’t even feel the pain of the payment because it’s built into your house payment.

It’s a habit, a mindless routine and one that may be costing you money. The experts at the AARP warn older Americans that the coverage they originally purchased may be either too much or not enough to fit their current situation.

Insurance experts recommend that all Americans review their homeowner policies when they come up for renewal, whenever they perform major home improvements, install safety and security features and when belongings are added to or removed from the home.

What’s in your policy?

Far too many homeowners haven’t a clue about their homeowner insurance coverage. What’s covered? What isn’t? Sadly, we see this ignorance-is-bliss mentality in action after a major natural disaster, with homeowners scrambling to contact their insurers to find out what’s covered in their policy.

At least understand the basics of your coverage – what’s covered, what’s excluded, whether or not you’re covered for natural disasters (and which ones) and burglary. How much will you receive in cash and how long will you have to wait to receive the rest?

Crunch the numbers

One of the most important pieces of information you’ll need when reviewing your coverage is what it would cost to rebuild your home should it be destroyed or heavily damaged. Known as “replacement cost,” it’s often confused with market value. They’re two entirely different values.

Many aspects of the home will determine its replacement value, including:

  • The home’s location
  • The home’s square footage
  • Age
  • Major upgrades performed
  • The home’s building materials
  • Type of roof

There are other aspects of the home that are considered as well. You can derive at a rough estimate by using the free online calculator at building-cost.net, or ask your insurance agent for suggestions.

Inventory your belongings

Your policy also covers replacement of the home's contents. When was the last time you took inventory of everything in your home? As we age, we tend to do one of two things: hang on to the accumulated "stuff" we've collected over the years or get rid of things we've carted around for decades. Updating your home inventory should be the next step.

Yes, it’s time consuming, but you don’t need to tackle it in one session. Take it one room at a time. A video camera comes in handy because you can narrate as you shoot footage of each item in your home. Otherwise, use a camera and take close ups that offer details of anything of particularly high value.

You’ll need to create a record of each item’s condition, what you paid for it when it was new, brand names, model names and serial numbers and any other information of note. Then, make a copy of the inventory and keep it in a safe deposit box or with a friend or relative.

Then, check your policy to ensure that you have enough coverage for all those belongings. On the flipside, if you carry a separate schedule for pricey items you no longer own, you may be paying too much for insurance.

Deciding on a deductible

The deductible is the one spot in the policy that you can realize substantial monthly savings – but also devastating financial ruin if you can’t pay it in the event of a disaster.

As you move closer to that fixed income inherent in retirement, determine how much you’ll be comfortably able to pay should the worst happen. In other words, it’s time to weigh your assets against any possible monthly or annual savings you will realize with a higher homeowner insurance deductible. Your financial planner is the best person to consult on this matter.

Don’t neglect to speak with your insurance agent either. He or she can look for ways to help you save on the cost of your premium via discounts for age, for safety improvements and more.

Insurance coverage in case your home is damaged is an easy concept to understand. Insurance policies, on the other hand, are notoriously complex. Seek help from professionals as you ease your way into retirement.

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