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For most people, their home is their largest investment. If you own a home, or are in the process of purchasing a residence, then you need to make sure it is covered properly with a home insurance policy. Get FREE, no-obligation home insurance quotes from NetQuote to compare policies from leading coverage providers.

Most of the time, your mortgage company will require you to have home insurance, so this coverage will not be optional for you. However, you will be able to choose the company to provide you the coverage you need. Choosing the best home insurance company is an important step, as you need to ensure they will be there for you if/when you have to file a claim.

There are some questions to ask regarding a potential home insurance provider. You need to confirm that the insurance company is reputable and financially able to cover any loss you may have. Ensure the homeowners insurance policy offers the coverage you need in, addition to the standard dwelling damage coverage, including liability coverage, medical payments to third parties injured on your property, and legal cost coverage. Find out if the coverage provider offers premium discounts for things such as distance to fire station, age of home, presence of smoke detectors linked to a home security system, and type of material used in the construction.

You should insure to replacement value, not actual cash value. After all, you are purchasing homeowners insurance to replace your residence in the event of a total loss, which requires it to be rebuilt at today's labor and material costs. You are not purchasing coverage based on what someone is willing to pay for your house. Cash value and replacement cost are generally two different figures and you need to ensure you have the right amount of coverage in case your house has to be rebuilt from the ground up.

A homeowners policy will be broken down into several parts, each with their own limits for an individual claim. The major parts of the policy are the property damage and liability sections, which protect the dwelling itself, and the insured individuals if they are found legally liable for causing damages to a third party. Most claims are subject to a deductible of the policy holder's choosing, which is the amount the insured must pay before the insurance company starts paying out for the claim. Typically, the higher the deductible, or the amount of risk the named insured wants to personally carry, the lower the overall policy premium will be.

Property damage provides coverage against a number of named perils, such as fire, theft, vandalism, and certain other natural disasters. This is protection for the physical structure itself, as well as protection for the personal, tangible items that are owned by the named insured and are inside the covered property.

Liability coverage pays when the named insured is found liable for third party bodily injury or property damage. However, this does not include liability stemming from the operation of motor vehicles, including aircraft, certain watercraft, and cars or trucks, as this coverage is provided by the appropriate policy type. Liability coverage also pays for legal representation in cases covered by the homeowners policy.

Another element of liability coverage is medical payments, which helps pay for medical treatment for third parties that are injured while on the named insured's property. This does not include injuries of the insured themselves, or for those that are a regular member of their household. Medical payments is a no-fault coverage, which means that it will pay out regardless of who caused the third party injury, just as long as it occurred on the insured premises.

See the below table to familiarize yourself with the typical coverages provided for by a homeowners policy. Each provider will have their own take on the exact coverages provided, but the basic coverages available will be quite similar between insurance companies.

You need to get quotes from several of the leading home insurance companies to compare your options. You should get quotes at various deductible levels to see how raising your deductible affects your annual premium. You need to make sure the home insurance quotes have the coverage you need to properly insure what is most likely your largest investment.

Visit NetQuote today to get FREE, no-obligation home insurance quotes from leading coverage providers.

Typical Homeowners Insurance Coverages

Included* Optional*
Property Damage - Coverage for the actual physical structure, as well as personal property owned by the insured. There is generally a separate policy limit for each of the four below parts of property damage coverage, as indicated in the policy. checkmark no-x
Dwelling - The dwelling coverage portion of a homeowners policy helps pay for damage to a covered dwelling caused by a covered peril, which includes fire, theft, vandalism, smoke, etc. There are generally certain perils that are specifically excluded from dwelling coverage, including flood, earth movement (earthquake, landslide, sinkhole, etc.), certain animals (rodents, birds, insects), neglect, and more. checkmark no-x
Other Structures - Structures that are set apart from the primary dwelling by a clear space, to include outbuildings, sidewalks, driveways and fences. This can include other structures connected to the insured dwelling by a fence, utility line, or similar type of connection. checkmark no-x
Personal Property - Includes the contents of the insured dwelling, such as furniture and personal belongings. There are generally limits set for the coverage of higher value items such as jewelry, monies, securities, firearms, and silverware. However, additional coverage for such items can be purchased if the included limits are insufficient. checkmark no-x
Loss of Use/Additional Living Expenses - A homeowners policy provides coverage for "loss of use" or "additional living expenses" that the insured incurs due to the inability to live in a covered structure while it is being repaired due to damages caused by a covered occurrence (example: having to move out of an insured dwelling and live in a hotel, apartment, or rental house, while it is being repaired due to fire damage). checkmark no-x
Additional Coverages - The additional coverages section of a homeowners policy provides for miscellaneous items, such as debris removal, tree/plant replacement, fire department service charges, lock replacement, refrigerated products, building ordinance compliance, identity theft, and more. Individual limits for specific perils/occurrences are called out in the Additional Coverages section of the policy. checkmark no-x
Liability - Coverage for personal liability exposures that come about from being a homeowner. checkmark no-x
Personal Liability - Coverage for claims of third party bodily injury or property damage for which the insured is legally liable. This does not include coverage for damages arising out of the operation of a motor vehicle, including autos, airplanes, certain watercraft, etc., or for claims arising from operating a business. Separate policies are required to cover these instances. Liability coverage pays for legal defense costs, but not for criminal proceedings. checkmark no-x
Medical Payments to Others - Medical payments covers medical expenses for third parties that were injured on the insured property, regardless of fault. This coverage does not apply to the insured or regular residents of the insured household. checkmark no-x
Flood - A homeowners policy does not cover a loss due to a flood. Therefore, a separate flood policy will be needed if the home is located in a flood prone area and/or the insured wishes to have flood coverage. Flood policies are issued by the Federal Government through the National Flood Insurance Program and can usually be purchased through the same company that issues the homeowners policy. no-x checkmark
Earthquake - Coverage for damage caused by earth movement, including earthquakes, is excluded from a homeowners insurance policy, and must be added on as an endorsement if the insured dwelling is in an earth movement prone area, or if the insured wants to pay for this coverage. no-x checkmark
Personal Injury - Coverage for liability arising from slander, defamation of character, libel, and the like, is generally excluded from a homeowners policy, but can be added through a personal injury endorsement. no-x checkmark
Valuable Personal Property - Most homeowners policies limit the coverage for certain high value items, including jewelry, silverware, fine arts, coins, cameras, guns, etc. If the insured needs higher than standard policy limits to cover such items, then they will need to opt for valuable personal property coverage, which protects named items up to the limits specified on this optional coverage. no-x checkmark

*Policy Limits - Each section of a policy has its own limits, which is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay per occurrence, subject to the deductible amount chosen by the insured. This means that if dwelling coverage limits are $125,000, but the insured dwelling costs $150,000 to rebuild after it is totally destroyed due to a covered peril, then not only is the dwelling underinsured, but the insurance company will only pay out to the policy limits of $125,000, leaving the homeowner on the hook for the remaining $25,000. It is vital to ensure a homeowner policy limits are sufficient to meet the liabilities faced - this is not a place to skimp!

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