People often wonder how home values are determined for insurance. It is sometimes difficult for buyers/sellers to separate the market value from the insurance value. Insurance value is the cost to replace/rebuild the home. No consideration is given to the land value or the location. You can have a $1,000,000 home to purchase only insurance valued at $487,000 because the cost of the land is not a consideration. The flip can also be true, a house on the market for $220,000 might take $300,000 to rebuild. Simple math formulas must be applied to the home.
Do not skimp on the overall coverage amount and here is why. Before Harvey the average rebuild cost per square foot in the Houston area was about $100. After Harvey the scarcity of building supplies shot the price up to $160 per sq. ft. and the price has only recently started to fall back to about $110 to $120 per sq. ft over two years later. A 2400 sq. ft. house needs to be covered for at least $264,000 to make sure there are enough funds to rebuild the property.
When looking at an older home, consider the risk of old systems and materials that are no longer available. It can be significantly more expensive to insure a smaller older home that has not been updated than a much larger 5-year-old home.
There are two levels of coverage as well, Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value (ACV). Avoid ACV whenever possible- Why? The insurance adjuster will look at what the property insured is really worth- 10-year-old carpet is worth about $50 per room. No where can you purchase replacement carpet for a room at $50! Replacement coverage is exactly as it states- the amount of coverage needed to replace the insured property. ACV is really no coverage at all.
What exactly is Homeowner’s Insurance?
Insurance can be confusing because there are so many parts. Broken down the foundation of all policies are the same.
Coverage A – the Building – The amount your home is covered for in the event of a total loss. (Should be around $110 per sq. ft.) This covers the structure of the home and anything built in or attached. (Flooring, cabinets, appliances, and the A/C System.)
Coverage B – Other Structures – This is to cover the other structures you may have on your property. (Completely detached garage, a shed, a she-shed, a gazebo, the fence, etc.) This coverage is usually equal to 10-30% of the Coverage A amount.
Coverage C – Personal Property – The best explanation I have heard is this – If you could pick up the house and shake it, everything that falls out is your personal property. Another way to look at this is, if it goes with you when you move – it is personal property. Mathematically the amount is about 40-50% of the Coverage A amount.
Coverage D – Loss of Use – If you can’t be in your home, this pays for you to live somewhere else. Everyone thinks this is for floods or fires, but what if the water line to your home breaks, can you live for weeks with no water? A burst pipe in a kitchen can shut it down for weeks – can you live there if you can’t prepare food? This coverage is usually 10-30% of the Coverage A amount.
Coverage E – Personal Liability – This covers you if you, a family member or something under your control damages or causes harm to someone else or their property. Example – Your tree hangs over into the street. A windstorm comes through and a branch from your tree lands on a brand-new car visiting a neighbor. You are covered. A tree in your yard is blown over and lands on your neighbor’s house doing damage. You are covered. The fence blows over and kills your neighbors pedigreed pet. You are covered. This coverage is incredibly cheap. It is recommended that you have $100,000 more in coverage than the value of your home (Coverage A).
Coverage F – Medical Payments – A child comes to your home and decides to climb a tree which gives way causing the child to fall and break an arm. This coverage will cover the medical bills of the guests and visitors – not your own family.
Additional Coverage A – In response to situation like Harvey, this coverage provides additional funds to repair your home in the event of a disaster which is defined by law as an event that impacts three or more homes. Example- you have your home insured at $110 per sq. ft and another hurricane comes through the Houston area and your home is damaged by wind and subsequent rain- not flooding. The prices of repairs skyrocket and the cost to repair is now $150 per sq. ft. this Additional Coverage A is then available to make sure your home is repaired completely and with equal replacement materials. You will pay additional premium for this coverage, but it is minimal. ($25 to $50 per year on the average policy).
Do you have questions or would like a free quote? Feel free to contact me.