Some life changes, you plan – others just happen. Big changes often affect your homeowners insurance policy, so it’s wise to speak with your insurance agent when these five life changes knock on your door to make sure you're covered properly.
Locking down ‘the One’
If you’re getting married, speak with an agent to update the information on your homeowners or renters policy. You'll want both names listed on the policy correctly. If you're combining households, it means reviewing your contents coverage – the part of your home insurance that covers your electronics, furniture, clothing and other "stuff" to make sure the limit is set high enough.
Keep in mind that payouts for high-value items such as jewelry and artwork can be limited. Ask your agent if you should schedule an endorsement for your most expensive possessions. Either way, you'll need to update your home inventory – a listing of all your possessions, including descriptions, photos and receipts. The inventory can help when it's time to file a claim.
As for car insurance, being married could lower your premiums. Also, covering both cars with a single insurer could land you a multi-policy discount.
Opting for a roommate
Or maybe you're not ready to get married. Times are tough, and one easy way to save money is to find a roommate. Regardless of whether it's a romantic or platonic situation, you can split rent, utilities and other costs. If you choose this path, alert your renters insurance provider.
Your roommate should purchase renters insurance to protect his or her possessions and yield coverage to handle liability for any injuries or damage he or she may be responsible for.
If you choose to have one policy for both parties, the policy must be written in both names; each one of you must be named insureds; both parties must meet eligibility requirements; and both roommates must look over and sign the application.
Becoming a parent
When you find out that you’re expecting, you have several months to accumulate everything that your baby will need. With baby showers comes an influx of new possessions, maybe even an expensive heirloom from Grandma and Grandpa. Check with your provider to make sure you have enough contents coverage in the event of a theft or other covered peril such as fire.
Getting a pet
Or maybe you're not having a baby; instead, you're adding a pet. It's important to aleart your homeowners insurance provider – especially if you're getting a dog. Home insurers don't hate dogs, but they do hate the risk of dog bites – the average payout for one is nearly $28,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Certain breeds – including pit bulls, Dobermans and chows – can lead to increased costs for coverage. But failing to tell your provider about your dog could mean you have no liability coverage if a visitor gets bitten. That means the $28,000 could come out of your pocket.
Moving to a new home
If you're moving to a new home, you need to update your insurance policy. Premiums can vary greatly among states because threats from natural disasters vary widely. For example, homeowners in Oklahoma and other states within Tornado Alley typically pay more for insurance than those in Utah. Even moving within a state can change your premium if your risk is lower. The same is true for auto insurance.
Discounts also vary by state – your new home could qualify for radically different premiums depending on where you move, and you could price breaks for your auto coverage as well.
Remodeling or renovating your home
Maybe instead of moving, you're remodeling or renovating your home. You could be adding a pool or increasing the square footage to transform your abode into the ideal space you’ve always wanted for your family.
Increasing the size of your home means that there’s more that needs to be insured because the cost to replace your house has also increased. The same goes for renovations. Notify your insurance company of the changes, because if not, your addition won’t be covered if something bad happens. If you’re adding a pool, you need to increase your liability coverage. Swimming pools, however ideal for relaxing and having fun with the family, are a risky addition.
If your additional space is a home office, you may need to add a separate business policy to protect items such as computers, printers and other office supplies. Speak to your provider.
The bottom line is to make sure your home and loved ones are protected no matter how your life changes. Keep your insurance provider in the loop on those changes to ensure the best possible coverage.
Shannon Ireland writes for HomeInsurance.com, an online resource for homeowners and drivers across the country. Offering comparative automobile and home insurance quotes, consumers rely on HomeInsurance.com for the most competitive rates from the top-rated insurance carriers in the country. The HomeInsurance.com blog provides fresh tips and advice on a range of financial topics to help homeowners and homebuyers make educated decisions about their insurance purchases.