10 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent

You don’t have to step forward and personally plead guilty on this one, but we know that many homeowners in this country are frighteningly unfamiliar with even the most basic building blocks of their homeowner’s insurance.

If you have questions, lean on the professionals – that’s what they’re there for! Come out of the dark with this simple guide, 10 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent.

1. What type of insurance policy do I have on my home, and what’s covered?

Believe it or not, there are eight different categories of homeowner’s insurance in the United States, each scaled differently to cover certain aspects of your home, natural disasters and contents. If you own a condo or mobile home, your policy will take a different form as well. If you’re a renter, insurance is also available for possession protection.

2. Do I have enough homeowners insurance coverage?

As tedious as it may sound, you’ll need to conduct an inventory on the items in your home, especially valuable pieces, as well as the cost to replace those items. Your insurance policy should cover all of these possessions.

Also, you’ll want to make sure your home and all other structures on your property are fully covered; doing so prevents owing the bank in the event of a loss.

3. Are there exclusions in my homeowners insurance policy?

Your policy will not cover every incidence of natural disaster. In fact, flooding and earthquakes are two big exclusions. Depending on the likeliness of certain natural disasters where you live, inspect your policy thoroughly to make sure you’re covered, or ask your agent about the appropriate addendum(s) you should consider tacking onto your plan.

4. Does my homeowner’s insurance cover costs to replace my valued possessions?

Be careful here, especially if you have valuables. There’s a difference between an insurance policy reimbursing at market value, versus actual replacement cost. Also, your policy could max out at a certain value. If you want guaranteed protection, sign up for just that—guaranteed replacement cost. Put your mind at easy by asking your agent every question that pops into your mind. When you’re dealing with valuables, it’s always best to minimize surprises.

5. What if someone is injured at my home?

Ask your insurance company about your upper limits of liability, which is the amount an agency will pay in the event someone becomes injured on your property, and sues you for damages. Needless to say, you’ll want this number to be high so you’re not faced with a big hit to your personal pocketbook.

6. What are my premiums?

You should always know the monthly dollar amount you’re paying for insurance. With the endless insurance offers that flood our mailbox, it is essential to know what you have, so that you can spot a good deal when it comes! Before changing your policy, always run through your list of coverage requirements.

7. What’s my deductible? Can I save money by choosing a higher deductible?

How much money are you required to pay out of pocket if a disaster were to strike? Make sure you know the details of your deductible! By choosing a higher deductible, you may be able to lower your premiums. But it’s a gamble – you’ll have to make a decision as to which is more important: lower payments, or a more affordable deductible.

8. Are there ways I can save money through discounts on my current policy?

Most agencies offer policy discounts through certain safety additions or home upgrades. Installing smoke detectors is an example of a way you could save a few pennies. Sometimes motion-sensor lights and security systems will score a discount as well. Run through these scenarios with your agent to maximize savings.

9. Is my agent accessible after regular business hours?

Life happens outside of business hours. Does your agency have some means of accessibility during non-business hours? Are you redirected to an after-hours claims service team, or do you have to leave a message and wait until morning (or worse, Monday)? Some agencies offer 24-hour claims service. Make sure you know how to get in touch with your agency, and what to expect.

10. What’s the process for filing a claim, and how long does it usually take to reimburse?

Know your agency’s process for filing a claim. Additionally, don’t be shy about asking how long it’s going to take to get paid on a claim. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll want an agency that’s going to be communicative throughout the process, while providing you with timely responses to your claims and questions.

Do your homework now to ensure you’re properly covered. Ask your insurance agent the right questions. There’s nothing scarier, or more frustrating, for a homeowner than having unexpected financial responsibility due to assumptions you made regarding your policy.