Home and auto insurance are essential when it comes to protecting your most important assets. But with a number of providers and packages to choose from—how do you make the best decision possible on insurance coverage?
Read on for a rundown of the basics when it comes to home and auto insurance.
Car owners in the US are almost always required by law to carry some kind of auto insurance. Requirements vary by state—so the first step to understanding auto insurance is finding out what’s necessary in your local area. Massachusetts drivers must be covered for injury to others, injury to yourself, injury caused by an uninsured car, and damage to someone else’s property. You can learn more about these requirements at www.mass.gov.
While homeowners insurance is not required by law, lenders often specify that a borrower must hold a certain level of home insurance before they will approve a mortgage. In some cases a lender may recommend a policy and include the price of homeowner’s insurance in monthly mortgage payments; but it’s always a good idea to do your own homework on what coverage and cost is right for you. If your home insurance lapses, your lender may buy insurance and bill it back to you.
What Type Is Right?
Beyond the bare minimum, both home and auto insurance come with a myriad of options. The right insurance provider can help to customize a plan built around your assets, your needs, and your budget. A few things to consider are:
- Liability Coverage— Covers the cost of medical bills or property replacement if you cause an accident. It’s also a way to protect yourself from the cost of a potential lawsuit.
- Collision Coverage— Helps pay for repairs or replacement of your car if you get into an accident, i.e. you hit a mailbox or if another car runs into your vehicle.
- Comprehensive Coverage— Pays for repairs or replacement if your car is damaged in a non-accident situation, such as a weather event or theft.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage— Covers damage to your person or property caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, so you’re not left with all the bills after a no-fault accident.
- Interior & Exterior Damage— Helps to repair or rebuild your home after damages caused by theft, vandalism, or a weather-related event. Also covers replacement of home contents such as clothing and furniture, although be aware that flooding, earthquakes and damages related to poor home maintenance usually require an additional rider.
- Liability Coverage— Protects you in case someone is injured on your property, and also covers off-property events and accidents such as if your dog bites a neighbor.
- Living Expenses Reimbursement— If you’re unable to live in your home for a period of time, this coverage will help pay for alternative accommodations.
- Extra Cover— Home insurance polices can be tailored to add what you need, which in some cases might include extra coverage for high-priced jewelry or artwork; flood insurance for areas at risk of hurricanes; equipment breakdown coverage for large appliances; and more.
What’s the Cost?
The monthly cost of home and auto insurance varies widely, depending on the level of coverage you need. When evaluating a potential insurance policy, always check your premium (the set monthly or yearly cost of insurance) as well as your deductible (how much you’ll need to pay out of pocket before insurance payments kick in). With home and auto insurance, it’s also important to know your coverage limits, which specify the maximum amount the insurer will pay to repair or replace your assets; or in the case of liability insurance, to cover resulting legal fees.
If you prefer lower monthly premiums, that may involve choosing a lower coverage limit—which means that if the worst should occur, you could end up paying more out of pocket. Some insurance providers offer the chance to lower your costs by bundling home and auto insurance, so you pay one discounted monthly premium for both types of coverage. Also be sure to ask if there are any special features available, as providers may be able to offer accident forgiveness so rates don’t rise after a first accident, 24-hour claims assistance, free home value appraisal, and more.
Learn more about HUECU's Insurance Services at huecu.org/insurance.