Ask an Insurance Agent: Questions to Ask About Personal Insurance

Insurance can be confusing. Maybe you know a bit about health insurance or the basics of homeowners insurance, but because there are so many different types of personal insurance, you’re probably not an expert on policies, providers, and coverage.

But that’s okay. We’re here to address your concerns because we know there are plenty of questions to ask about personal insurance. Here’s a list of common types of personal insurances along with what to ask an insurance agent about each as suggested by insurance professionals.

Questions to Ask About Home Insurance

Buying a home is a big deal. For many people it is the single largest financial transaction of their lives. It’s an investment in your future. It’s a place of security for your family. In most cases, it is a source of immense pride and joy. Your homeowner’s insurance policy should protect that investment, which is why it’s important to know these questions to ask about homeowners policy coverage and limits.

Is the standard liability coverage enough?

Liability is a big concern for homeowners today – and it should be. We live in a world where lawsuits happen around every corner. Without adequate liability protection your financial future and even your home may be at risk.

Most home insurance policies come with some general liability protection. However, one major accident or incident could easily exhaust that coverage. You may be interested in learning about other options, such as an umbrella liability policy which will kick in once the initial funds are exhausted, or simply increasing the amount of coverage for your general liability insurance coverage.

How much home insurance do I really need?

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Many homeowners are shocked to learn that simply covering their homes for the amount of money they purchased the home for is wholly inadequate to cover the costs of rebuilding their homes. There are many more steps involved in rebuilding that aren’t necessary when buying an existing structure (debris removal, new permits for rebuilding, licenses, code requirements, etc.). These all add to the costs of rebuilding without sacrificing either size or quality when doing so.

Don’t forget to ask about supplemental insurance that will cover the costs of bringing your home to code in the event that your home isn’t a total loss. Some communities require that the entire home be brought to current code if a certain percentage of the home is damaged. Standard homeowner’s insurance only covers the updates for the damaged portions of your home.

Is my swimming pool covered?

Many homeowners policies specifically exclude liability coverage related to swimming pools. That is additional coverage you will likely need to purchase that is outside the scope of your standard policy if you purchase a home that has a swimming pool. The policy may include coverage for the structure of your pool – should it become damaged by a covered event. You’ll really need to discuss the specifics with your agent, though, as policies vary greatly from one company to the next.

You might also want to ask about trampolines, swing sets, tree houses, and other structures that are attractive to children, but could cause injuries.

Does my policy cover all my possessions?

This is a significant question to ask of your insurance agent. Most policies will have a set amount of coverage set aside to protect your possessions. However, many of them only offer a set amount of coverage for certain types of items. For instance, if you have several computers, you might be out of luck as your policy could have a $5,000 (or lower) limit on computers.

The same holds true for electronics, art, furs, jewelry, and collectibles. These higher value items will need separate coverage. Talk to your agent about any high value items or collections you have and discuss your options for coverage.

How can I save money on my insurance?

Many insurance companies have discounts that are available, but only to those who ask for them. In addition, you can usually save money by bundling your policies (buying your home and auto insurance from the same company, for instance), upgrading your electrical wiring, placing a new roof on your home, installing a home security system, and making other improvements to your home. Your agent will know all the details that can bring your specific costs down.

Questions to Ask About Flood Insurance

Homeowners are often shocked to discover their homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods. The last thing you want to hear after your home is flooded is that the structure and your possessions are all a loss. If your home is in an area prone to flooding, here’s what to ask your broker about your policy.

What does flood insurance cover? What doesn’t it?

You might think flood insurance covers anything having to do with water, but this isn’t the case. You’ll want to get the exact details from your broker. But in general, you can expect flood insurance to cover what’s known as inundation, or when water covers land that is normally dry. It should also cover your home from mudflows.

Flood insurance will not cover flooding due to landslides though. Make sure you understand the parts of your home flood insurance covers. It does not cover furniture or personal property in basements, crawlspaces, or walkout basements. There is also a limit on coverage. Flood insurance usually covers houses for up to $250,000 and possessions for up to $100,000.

How can I get the most out of my flood insurance?

Make sure you document everything in your home. Take pictures of your home, foundation, interior and exterior walls, and your possessions. Remember that there are limitations on certain possessions, like jewelry and fine art. Speak to your broker about purchasing additional coverage for your more expensive items.

Questions to Ask About Renters Insurance

If you rent, you may think your landlord’s insurance covers your possessions. But your landlord’s insurance only covers the structure of your home, not your items inside. Renters insurance will provide you coverage if your items are lost or damaged due to fire, theft, or other covered incidents. Ask your broker these questions about your renters insurance policy.

What’s covered and what isn’t?

We hope you never have to make a claim but the last thing you want to find out is some of your possessions aren’t covered. With most policies, theft, lightning, smoke, vandalism, and fire are covered. You should also have liability protection in case you’re sued for bodily injuries or property damage.

Make sure you understand what type of water damage is covered (e.g. leaking pipes) and if your policy will provide you with reimbursement for additional living expenses accrued if you’re forced to temporarily move due to a covered loss. Make sure you also understand limits for certain items, like jewelry, and disasters that aren’t covered, like floods and earthquakes.

Is my roommate covered?

Some renters insurance policies cover family members but you’ll find that most don’t cover roommates. Each roommate in a rental unit should have their own insurance. Speak with your broker to see if you can each be covered under one policy though, as it is possible in some circumstances.

Is my policy for cash value or replacement coverage?

Know the answer to this before you sign anything. A cash value renters insurance policy will reimburse you for the cash value of your items after depreciation. So, if your couch is ten years old, you can expect to be reimbursed a much smaller amount than what you originally paid. Replacement coverage will pay you the amount it costs to replace your items in today’s market. We always recommend replacement coverage, but it will cost more.

Questions to Ask About Disability Insurance

One in three American workers will experience a long-term disability at some point during their career. Having an insurance policy that will provide you with a portion of your income until you’re able to head back to work can mean the difference between your disability being a small bump in the road and a total disaster. Here’s what to ask your broker.

How much does disability insurance cost?

A broker will be able to provide you with several quotes but on average, a disability insurance policy costs between 1% and 3% of your annual salary.

What goes into filing a claim? Are there exclusions?

If you become injured, you’ll start by filing a claim. To get it approved, you’ll have to provide information about your job duties and your diagnosis. You’ll need paperwork from your employer and doctor, including medical records or test results proving your disability and projected treatment and recovery. Before purchasing your policy, make sure you understand types of disabilities that are covered and what types are excluded from coverage.

How long will it take for my benefits to kick in and how long will they last?

You’ll start to receive payments after your elimination period expires. Be sure to ask your broker how long your individual elimination period is. Try to get one no longer than 90 days. Your benefits will last until you either go back to work or until your benefit period ends. For complete coverage, purchase a policy with a benefit period to age 67. This way, your retirement benefits will kick in immediately after your disability benefits end. This can save your financial future if you’re disabled at a young age.

Questions About Honig Conte Porrino

What providers do you work with?

Because we’re independent agents here at Honig Conte Porrino Insurance, we can work with a wide variety of insurance carriers. In order to provide our clients with competitive pricing, advanced coverage options, and exceptional peace of mind, we work with approximately 30 different carriers, including:

  • Adirondack
  • Brownstone
  • Chubb
  • Commercial Mutual
  • Hartford
  • Kingston
  • Metropolitan
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • Wesco

How can you guarantee me the best rates?

As we mentioned, we’re an insurance brokerage. This is different than an insurance agency. An insurance agent works for one company. They can only provide one type of coverage for one quote. Their hands are tied when it comes to giving you options

A broker works with several different insurance companies. This means they can shop around for you and check the coverage and price of policies from multiple sources. They’re able to go the extra mile to make sure you’re fully covered for the right price.

To answer the question, we may not be able to guarantee you the cheapest price. But at the end of the day, making sure you’re fully protected is more important than saving a few dollars a month.

To conclude our Q&A session, some types of personal property insurance policies are more popular than others. This doesn’t mean a less popular type isn’t a necessity for your unique situation. Work with a broker who understands all types of personal insurance and can make sure you’re fully covered in every aspect.