- Know about exclusions to coverage. For example, most insurance policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage as a standard item. These types of coverage must be bought separately.
- Know about dollar limitations on claims. Even if you are covered for a risk, there may be a limit on how much the insurer will pay. For example, many policies limit the amount paid for stolen jewelry unless items are insured separately.
- Know the replacement cost. If your home is destroyed you'll receive money to replace it only to the maximum of your coverage, so be sure your insurance is sufficient. This means that if your home is insured for $250,000 and it costs $280,000 to replace it, you'll only receive $250,000.
- Know the actual cash value. If you chose not to replace your home when it's destroyed, you'll receive replacement cost, less depreciation. This is called actual cash value.
- Know the liability. Generally your homeowner's insurance covers you for accidents that happen to other people on your property, including medical care, court costs, and awards by the court. However, there is usually an upper limit to the amount of coverage provided. Be sure that it's sufficient if you have significant assets.
LIGHTS... CAMERA... INSURANCE!
In case you ever need to make a claim, a video diary is a great tool to have. Walk through your house with your video camera. One of the big advantages is that you can narrate what you're shooting. Remember to open drawers and closets, and don't forget everyday stuff such as toys and clothes. Make sure you get really good shots of your big-ticket items - you might want to lay Grandma's silver out on the dining room table so it won't be blurry. Once you've completed your recording, make a copy and store in a bank vault, an online vault and/or a fireproof safe.
Here are a few insurance agents in the Thurston County area who may be able to help you:
- Liberty Mutual, Abrann Harris or Emily Flemm, http://www.libertymutual.com/insurance-office-tumwater-wa
- Farmers Insurance, Greg Mohoric, http://www.farmersagent.com/gmohoric