Harrison and Ooltewah, Tennessee suffered a devastating EF3 tornado back in March of 2012 but neighbors are pulling together to help each other recover. When the tornado rolled through town, it destroyed 82 homes and damaged 262, but many people are reaching a comfortable recovery point right now.

Bill Tittle, Hamilton County chief of emergency management said, “We’re seeing a lot of repaired homes, and some home that were destroyed have been torn down. We’ve seen a lot of recover in the neighborhoods- holes have been repaired, and some houses have been rebuilt.”

This is good news for both small towns and means that people have settled back into the normalcy of everyday life. Most people who were affected had insurance, which helped take care of the damages. This is a very good thing because depending on the serious of a tornado it can do tremendous damage. Luckily, making sure you are protected against this kind of damage isn’t hard to do with your basic homeowner’s policy. Whereas flood damage requires a specific kind of insurance, tornadoes don’t and your damage should be covered but it’s important to make sure that your policy matches what your house and possessions are worth.

With any homeowner policy, you should always have some kind of inventory of your valuable possessions in a protected place. Important things to list about your items include what you paid for it, what exactly it is, and where it is located. Coming up with this list can help you get the most out of your insurance claim in the event that your home and everything else is destroyed. Hopefully the 82 people who weren’t able to dodge the tornado’s wrath had the proper homeowner policy to take care of their loss. It’s always important to make sure you are covered. Be sure to speak with your individual agent and reassess you needs as they arise.

Protecting Your Home

When you finally make the decision to purchase a home, it can be a turning point in your life but with the reward comes added responsibility. It’s highly likely you’re going to be shelling out a pretty penny for your new house. You want to make sure that it’s protected. If you own your home, even if you’re not legally required to carry homeowners insurance like you typically are with auto insurance, it would be outright illogical not to have homeowners insurance on the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your life, and the biggest asset you likely have.

Homeowner Insurance: Where to Start?

Homeowner insurance policies can be one of the more difficult things to negotiate because it can include so many different instances that work against but it’s best to start with the basics and then move from there. Many people will begin looking for policies based on price alone but many times, this will not provide the adequate coverage in case something happens to their home, possessions, or individuals inside the home. Some people that a house has a personality, especially if its older, so think about this when looking for an insurance policy. There are always going to be individual risks associated with your house based on its age, history, location and other important factors. Look at these first and then try to build a policy around the risks. You will probably be able to find a policy that covers you well and fits your budget.

The Minimums

There is a minimum level of homeowner’s insurance that is required by law. This is called “hazard insurance” and is part of a basic homeowner insurance policy. You may see it referred to as a HO-3 policy. This protects the house against accident damage or destruction from things such as fire, smoke, theft or vandalism. It can also protect some of your belongings and other structures on the property such as a tool shed. This type of policy also includes a certain amount of liability coverage. This will protect you in case someone that doesn’t live at your house is injured there. This means that if the UPS man trips over a hose laid across your stoop and sprains his ankle, you should be protected by your homeowners’ insurance. You would need to add this to your hazard insurance. A standard insurance policy is not going to protect you from general wear and tear that occurs to the house so if you are purchasing an older, this is an important point to take into consideration.

Insuring Your Home: Setting the Right Limits

When you purchase homeowner’s insurance, you are purchasing a certain amount of coverage that the insurance company will pay if something happens to your house. You have to make sure that you purchase the right amount, otherwise you may find yourself losing money in the event of a disaster. Policy limits normally start at $100,000 but you want to make sure that your house is insured for the full amount that it’s worth. Depending on the value of your home, many experts recommend that purchase anyway from $300,000 to $500,000 of coverage. But if your house is worth $1 million, that obviously wouldn’t be enough insurance for you.

The best way to determine the right amount of coverage to buy is to determine how much it would cost to rebuild your home if it was completely demolished. You want to be considering worst case scenario here. It’s important to note that this is not going to be close to your purchase price, which can take other things into account like location and additional lot size. You can always get an estimate on how much it would cost to rebuild your home but the Insurance Information Institute recommends a simple formula: multiple your home’s total square footage by the building cost per square foot. This should give you a good estimate when choosing your policy limits.

Insuring your Belongings

Basic home insurance will insure some of your property but expensive jewelry and art may not be covered so if you have lots of these things lying around, it’s best to purchase additional coverage. It’s a smart idea to keep an inventory of your valuable belongings in a safe place in case something happens. That way, when you need to make a claim, the insurance company will have a reference when determining the value of the items. In your inventory, include a complete description of your item, where it was located, the purchase price and if it has appreciated in value. Keep this inventory in a safe, fire-resistant place so it can’t be destroyed as well.

Buying a home can be one of the biggest decision you eve make but purchasing the right policy can come in at a close second. With the burden of a mortgage every month, going with a budget policy may seem like a good financial decision but it’s likely you won’t be properly covered. Search around for the best rates for the best policy for you house and if something does happen, you will be happy you made the effort.

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