Five tips when shopping for a homeowner’s insurance policy

What every homeowner should consider to protect their home.

Do you ever wonder if your homeowner’s insurance policy is right for you? Not all policies are ‘one size fits all’ and some may be more comprehensive than others. MSU Extension spoke to Halsey Allstate Insurance owner Lisa Halsey to find out what is most important to consider in your home insurance policy. She highlights five components that every homeowner should consider:

1.  Coverage

This typically means the dwelling, other structures on the property, your personal property, and liability (like if a visitor is injured on your property and you are liable). Be sure to give accurate information to get accurate coverage. Have a conversation about liability coverage. Also, consider “extras” like water back-up, jewelry riders, and identity theft.

2.  Discounts

“Bundling” insurance policies under the same company is almost always the best way to save money on both your homeowners and auto insurance. The same goes for adding other policies such as life insurance. It’s also convenient to pay one place for two or more of your necessary expenses. Be sure to ask your agent about other discounts.

 3. Inventory

Be sure to document your belongings in case they need to be replaced. This means taking photos or recording videos, and detailing when and how much the item was purchased for. This should be updated periodically as your belongings change over time. Consider using the free app Allstate Digital Locker to save all that information securely, even if you’re not an Allstate customer. If you should ever have to file a claim, your information can be accessed quickly and safely from the cloud.

4. Claims

Know who to call, when to call, and how filing a claim will impact your rates. Typically, making small claims (less than $1,000 damage) may not be worth it. This is an important topic to discuss with your agent early on so that when it is time to file a claim, you are better prepared.

 5. Review

As time marches on, your life changes. However, updating your policy might not be the first thing that occurs to you when your circumstances change. But reviewing your policy regularly is vital if you want to keep your coverage where it should be. An annual review is a good rule of thumb to see if you need to make any changes to your policy. Have you made any home improvements? Have you upgraded your kitchen or bathroom or finished your basement? Be sure it’s properly insured. Also, you may be entitled to additional discounts.

Michigan State University Extension offers financial literacy and homeownership workshops throughout the year to help you become financially healthy.  For more information of classes in your area, go to either http://msue.anr.msu.edu/events or www.mimoneyhealth.org.  Additionally, you can take the Financial Health Survey at MI Money Health to assess if you’re financially healthy and discover more ways you can improve your financial health.  

Michigan State University Extension has released a new toolkit for homeowners who are experiencing or have previously experienced foreclosure. This toolkit will equip these individuals and families with tools to help them recover their financial stability, in the case that a recovery of their home is not possible. The toolkit is available to download free at MIMoneyHealth.org.

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