Underinsurance Can Spell Disaster For Homeowners

Insurance is meant to give homeowners peace of mind, but an increasing number of policy holders are putting themselves at risk by neglecting to insure their home and contents adequately.

There is often confusion over the difference between guaranteed and extended replacement value insurance. Guaranteed replacement means that if the home is destroyed or severely damaged, the insurance company will pay for it to be rebuilt, whatever the cost. This is the most secure form of insurance for the homeowner, as it literally means the home is guaranteed to be replaced, but the deal carries a degree of risk to the insurer. While this type of policy used to be standard, it is now becoming increasingly difficult to even find an offer of a guaranteed replacement policy. It is now more common to be offered an extended replacement value policy, which covers a percentage of the value of the home of up to one hundred percent, plus an added percentage towards building costs. A replacement value policy simply pays an agreed set amount if the property is destroyed or badly damaged.

Consumers should also take into account the depreciation in the value of their contents over time, and insure their replacement value, rather than their resale value. After all, if the items are lost or stolen, they will need to be replaced with new items, not second hand ones.

An important aspect of managing the policy in the long term is to keep it up to date. Some policies will have an inflation effect built in, so the insured amount will automatically rise each time the policy comes up for renewal. A professional valuation should still be done on the property regularly, so that the policy holder can renegotiate with the insurance provider if the level of coverage has fallen behind.

David Cannell is a freelance writer and university educator. He is also the owner of http://www.insurance-andmore.com

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