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We Asked Home Shoppers What They Want to Know About Homeowners Insurance—Here Are the Answers By Realtor.com

Here’s what’s on their minds, with answers from the experts at Allstate.

Home is where the heart is … as well as a lot of other possessions. That’s why getting quality, reliable homeowners insurance is about so much more than checking an item off the to-do list when you’re buying a home.

So we asked home shoppers what they want to know about homeowners insurance, and they delivered—with questions on everything from claims to coverage to what exactly escrow has to do with insurance.

Here’s what’s on their minds, with answers from the insurance experts at Allstate.

I’m a first-time home buyer. What should I consider when choosing insurance? – Cynda from Florida

“Your home is one of your most valuable assets,” say the experts at Allstate. “Make sure your homeowners insurance protects you and your family in many kinds of situations involving not only your home itself but also the things you own.”

No two homeowners’ needs are exactly the same. Your unique needs need unique coverage. For example, a classical musician may be looking to protect their prized instruments, whereas an entrepreneur running a side hustle might be concerned with protecting the inventory stored in their garage.

It’s OK if you don’t know exactly what you’ll need right away. A great place to start is by entering your ZIP code in Allstate’s online tool. You’ll get a personalized quote in minutes and have the opportunity to connect with a local agent who can answer questions specific to your situation.

What are the most common types of claims? What is the claims process like? – Emily from Colorado

Homeowners insurance helps people prepare for the unexpected, such as damage from wind, hail, plumbing failures, theft, and fire. The claims process focuses on delivering the protection your policy promises when you need it. Your insurance company will work with you to understand what happened, assess what was damaged, and help you recover. The aim is for the process to be as simple as possible for the homeowner, so they can focus on moving forward.

How is condo insurance different from home insurance? How can I make sure my condo insurance has the coverage I need? – Maria from Virginia

While homeowners coverage is for an entire building, condo insurance covers your unit and belongings if they are stolen or damaged by things like fire or vandalism.

Your condo association’s insurance policy may help cover areas such as the boiler room and the roof, as well as hallways and other shared spaces. In some cases, that policy may cover the structure of your own condo unit, including the walls and floors or even your unit’s original fixtures. It’s a good idea to understand what protection your condo association has in place so you know what types of additional coverage your personal policy should provide.

Are there any surprising things that aren’t covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy? – Emily from Colorado

Flood and earthquake damage are not covered and require an additional separate policy. Other types of damage, such as water backup from an outside sewer or drain, also require additional coverage. Talking with an insurance agent is a great way to understand the terms of your policy and learn about optional ways to expand your coverage.

How is escrow related to homeowners insurance? – Cynda from Florida

Some mortgage lenders require that an escrow account is set up to pay for your homeowners insurance and taxes. Then the lender pays the home insurance premium with money from your escrow payments, which means you will not pay the insurance company directly. However, you still control which insurance company you use. Starting by getting a personalized quote is a great way to keep your home-buying efforts on track.

Does my homeowners insurance cover small damages, like a stolen bike? – Maria from Virginia

Personal property coverage typically covers theft, but a deductible (the amount you agree to pay out of pocket before your insurance company pays for a covered claim) will likely apply before your coverage kicks in. Coverage limits may also apply. Your insurance agent will be able to help you adjust your coverage to fit your needs or answer questions about your policy. You can also explore coverage options for possessions like sports equipment, riding lawn mowers, and more. Taking inventory of what you want to protect is an important part of getting the right insurance policy.

What are some things homeowners can do to help lower the cost of their homeowners insurance? – Emily from Colorado

One of the best ways to save is by considering if bundling policies is right for you—and the answer may be an easy “yes” if you need both home and auto insurance. You can also bundle homeowners insurance with policies for your rental properties, power sports vehicles, and more. You may also receive a discount if you:

  • Are a new homeowner.
  • Switch insurance providers without having a recent claim.
  • Set up automatic payments to pay your insurance premium.
  • Are age 55+ and retired.

Increasing your deductible, or what you’ll pay toward a covered claim, may also reduce your premium payments.

While a good price may influence your decision, remember that a dependable insurance company, quality customer service, and having the appropriate coverage in place are very important if you ever need to file a claim. It’s a good idea to shop around and talk to an insurance agent about costs as well as coverage before buying a homeowners insurance policy.