Homeowners or renters insurance will protect your home and its contents during unforeseeable events, such as natural disasters, burglary and other accidents. However, an insurance policy is not a blank check. Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean you will be fully compensated for your valuables. If you have specific items that are worth a lot, it might be wise to pay a little extra each year to insure these items for their full replacement value.
What Does Home Insurance Cover?
It’s important to know what your home insurance policy actually covers before you decide whether or not you need to take out further insurance. One thing a standard policy covers is your house — not the actual market value of the house, but the cost to rebuild the house, which will be significantly lower than the market value. It also covers your belongings. However, valuable items will often have a cap on the amount you can recover under standard policies. For example, items such as furs and jewelry will often have a $1,000 to $2,000 cap.
What You Should Insure
Take a look at your policy and see just how much coverage you have. If there are caps on your valuable items, determine whether you think those items would cost more to replace and whether it would be worth it for you to pay a little extra to insure these items. You can take out an additional rider on your standard policy or you can take out a separate policy.
Most standard homeowners or renters insurance will already cover some of your jewelry, but they often have a limit on how much you can recover. Determine whether this limit is below the value of your more expensive pieces. Take your finest jewelry pieces and have them appraised. If the value exceeds the amount covered in your policy, you should consider taking out an additional policy.
Don’t forget about Fido! Check your policy to see what exactly it covers relating to any pets you have. Under the liability portion, standard policies will usually cover dog bites or any damage your pet does to property you don’t own. However, depending on its breed, your pet might be excluded from the policy or it might increase your premium. Insurance companies sometimes do not insure what they consider to be aggressive breeds. These may include pit bulls, Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. If your policy does not cover your pet, you should take out additional insurance to protect yourself against any damage your pet causes that you could be liable for. In addition, pet insurance is also available to cover any health problems, injuries or accidents.
Computers are other items that will cost a lot to replace. To determine whether you should insure your computers separately, first decide what you use it for. If it’s for personal use, it will already be covered up to a certain amount by a standard policy. Find out if that amount is acceptable for you. If your computer is for business use, your employer will probably have an insurance policy that covers it. If you are self-employed, however, you may need a property insurance policy to cover that computer as a business asset.
If you have any other valuable technology, such as a sound system or a television, determine how much these items would cost to replace and whether your insurance would provide enough coverage. You may want to take out additional policies for any high quality technology that’s worth a lot to you.
Your art collection may also not be fully covered under your homeowner’s policy. Consider what’s hanging on your walls, as well as sculptures, pottery, baseball card collections, rare books and any other rare collections or art that may be worth more than $1,000 to $2,000. Get these items or collections appraised to determine whether you need to take out extra insurance.
How to Make a Claim
If, unfortunately, something happens to any of your belongings in your home, it’s good to know what you need to do in order to receive what you’re owed by your insurance company. First, carefully read your policy, including your additional riders or separate policies you’ve taken out. Next, provide documentation for the damage done and the value of your belongings. Take photos of the damage to prove what was done. Provide documentation of how much these items are worth, whether its from a list you made when you first took out the policy or if its documentation from an appraisal. Then look online for a claim application or call your company’s customer service department. Fill out the application and submit it to your insurance company. Contact your company to find out where your application goes and get that department’s contact information. Check back periodically to follow-up on the status of your claim.
Things happen. Theft, natural disasters and other unforeseen incidents may cause damage to your home and your worldly possessions. Be prepared for the unknown and protect your assets. Consider how much some of your most expensive valuables would cost to replace. If it’s more than what your policy covers, then you should consider paying a little extra money and taking out additional insurance policies.