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4 Steps to Make Sure Homeowners Have the Right Type of Insurance

Over half (59%) of homeowners are concerned their insurance coverage is insufficient due to inflation and rising replacement costs.
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4 steps to make sure homeowners have the right type of insurance

There are a lot of risks to consider as a homeowner right now, and those risks only increase based on the value of a home. Supply chain disruptions, parts and labor costs, and inflation are all volatile considerations when accounting for the everyday upkeep and repairs needed to keep a home running.

While many homeowners may not consider the risks economic factors also pose to their insurance needs, over half (59%) of homeowners are concerned their insurance coverage is insufficient due to inflation and rising replacement costs, according to a recent survey from VIU by HUB.

Knowing that, agents need to ask their clients one very important question: Does your home, one of the largest investments a client may ever make, have the right type of replacement coverage?

A key point of consideration is the valuation of the home and what it will cost to rebuild should an unexpected event take place. There are many different home valuation terms, so it is important to understand which type to take into consideration when it comes to insurance:

  • Market value. This reflects the price a buyer is willing to pay for a home considering location, desirability of the neighborhood, quality of schools and other factors.
  • Appraisal value. Determined by a lender, this valuation ensures a homeowner doesn't borrow more than the value of the home.
  • Assessed value. This is assigned to a residence by the local municipality for tax purposes.
  • Replacement cost. Replacement cost is calculated by the insurance carrier to determine the expense to rebuild the home after a significant loss to the same condition prior to the loss.

Here are four steps agents can recommend to their clients to make sure their insurance matches their house's value:

1) Recommend having a home cost valuation. A replacement cost valuation of the home can help a homeowner determine if their home is underinsured. An agent can help set these up for their clients. Knowing exactly what a home is worth will give agents an idea of what type of coverage and how much of it is needed. 

2) Educate clients on the different coverage types. After accounting for the home valuation, agents can then ensure their client's insurance policy provides the proper coverage for their unique needs so they aren't stuck with any high out-of-pocket costs and unexpected expenses during a loss.

Many homeowners don't realize the three most common types of replacement cost coverage: 

  • Basic replacement cost. This generally pays up to the exact limit of a policy.
  • Extended replacement cost. In general, this coverage pays to have a home repaired or rebuilt to its condition before the loss, even if the cost exceeds the policy limit, up to a capped value. The capped amount is an additional percentage over the amount for which the home was insured.
  • Guaranteed replacement cost. This pays to repair or rebuild a home to its original specifications regardless of the cost. There is no cap on the amount the insurance company will pay.

3) Make sure all home features are accounted for. For homeowners with a high-value home, standard industry tools used to determine home replacement cost might not adequately reflect its specialty building materials, high-quality craftsmanship and custom features, many times resulting in insufficient coverage.

Homeowners might not realize that if they incur a total loss without enough coverage, they may have to pay out of pocket to rebuild their homes to match equivalent pre-loss construction. Agents should talk to their clients to identify these features so they are taken into consideration when determining what coverage is best. 

4) Consider offering private client services. Agents who work with homeowners with high-value homes should consider working with a high-net worth insurance carrier to help their clients avoid being underinsured.

There are other advantages to working with such a carrier. For instance, some carriers offer unlimited dwelling replacement cost coverage in cases of a total loss. This means if the homeowner has a covered loss, the home will be repaired or replaced with materials of like kind and quality even if the expense is more than the amount listed on the policy. Also worth noting is the opportunity for a replacement cash-out option, which allows homeowners to collect and use funds up to their coverage limit should they wish to move and not rebuild in the same location.

Jeff Rommel is senior vice president, property-casualty sales and distribution, Nationwide.

Monday, January 23, 2023