Homeowners Insurance 101

Make sure your personal property is covered if (ugh) anything were to happen.

Don't know the first thing about insuring your home and all those registry good in it? We've got the basic so you're covered, you know...in case. When you're moving in together you should take inventory of your home. And who knows? Your stuff may be worth more than you thought.

What Is Homeowners Insurance?

Now that you have valuable goods (from wedding rings to all those presents), it's time to protect them. A standard homeowners policy generally covers four categories:

  • The structure of your home: if it's damaged or destroyed by fire or most other natural disasters
  • Your belongings: if they're stolen or destroyed by fire or other insured disasters
  • Liability: if you, your family members, or pets cause damage to anyone else or anyone else's property
  • Additional living expenses: if you have to live away from home due to fire or other insured damage

Do We Need It?

Not by law, but if you're getting a mortgage , your lender will most likely require it. Even if it's not required, do you want to risk losing the investment you've made in your home?

How Do We Get It?

Do a room-by-room inventory, taking photos of valuable items (write the relevant info on the back of each picture) or make a video (give important details camera). Note products' make, model, and serial number, and include receipts and appraisals to the list. Make a copy of your inventory and store it with a relative or in a safety deposit box.

How Do We Choose?

Shop around; get quotes from at least three companies and compare them. The Insurance Information Institute can give you more information about companies, policies, and other basics. A little homework goes a long way.

How Can We Save?

  • Get a higher deductible. The higher the deductible, the lower your rate.
  • See if you can get a lower rate if you buy your homeowners and car insurance from the same company.
  • Ask about discounts (for having home-security devices or for staying with the same company for a long time).
  • Most policies cover personal property even when you're not at home, like if your wallet gets stolen at the mall -- make sure your policy is one of them.