Homeowners Insurance in New Hampshire
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Do you know what's not fun about buying your first home? Almost everything! Up until the moment they put the keys in your hand and say "congratulations", that is. But do you know what's not fun about buying homeowners insurance? Actually, the word "everything" pretty much sums up the answer to that question. But at least you can rest easy knowing that you, your new home, and your property are protected against some of the worst things life can throw at you.
HO-3 home insurance policies are very common in New Hampshire, as they are in many other states across the country. These policies cover everything and the kitchen sink. Both your structure and your personal property will have 100% financial coverage. Your liability and medical payments coverages will much higher than if you lived in any other state. And you get all of this for a low deductible of $500 per claim. Indeed, New Hampshire HO-3 forms are some of the most comprehensive in the nation:
|Types of Coverage||Coverage Amount|
|Replacement Cost (Dwelling)||$200,000|
|Replacement Cost (Contents)||$140,000|
Interestingly, unlike in most other areas, New Hampshire insurers are willing to sell you coverage equal to 100% of the cost to replace your personal belongings. In most other areas, only a fraction of the total replacement cost is underwritten. While this might end up raising your premium slightly, take solace in the fact that not only are you completely covered, but it's a slight increase on a premium that is already well below the national average.
Being that New Hampshire is one of the smaller states in the union, there isn't a lot of geographical diversity within its borders. Not only that, but most of its cities are relatively close together. This explains why prices are pretty uniform from one city to another. But prices between companies, on the other hand, is a very different story. Choosing the wrong company could end up doubling or even tripling your rates, as you can see in the chart below.
Laws and Requirements
For the most part, there's no technical requirement (at least, not legally) for any homeowner to purchase home insurance. But even if you own your home completely, it's still a good idea to have financial protection covering such a large, expensive investment. And for those who don't own their own home, but are still paying off a mortgage (or planning to take one out), your bank will make it a mandatory part of your loan agreement. So be prepared for that. If you don't follow their directions and get your home insured, you could end up losing your house.
Taking a Home Inventory
You shouldn't start shopping around for homeowner's insurance until after you've completed a thorough and accurate home inventory. Yes, yes, we know...it can be an extremely tedious chore. But in the end, it's worth it. Taking a preliminary inventory now will make future annual updates a breeze. Plus, having an accurate account of the value of your property will make sure you only buy the coverage you need, saving you money on premiums!
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Choosing What (and How Much) Coverage
Most New Hampshire homeowners insurance policies will incorporate Dwelling and Personal Property Coverage, Liability Coverage, Medical Payments Coverage, and Additional Living Expenses Coverage into a standard policy. You may also need coverage for:
- Fires - Main maybe a cold State located in a very Northern latitude, but that doesn't mean that fires and fire damage never happened. Thankfully, most standard homeowners insurance policies will cover fire and fire-related damage to a certain extent. But if you want to make sure that your home is covered in the event of a fire, be sure to ask your insurance agent to go over that type of coverage with you very carefully.
- Flood - as far as insurance companies are concerned, any of the following count as damage caused by floods: storm surges, wave wash, tidal waves, mud flows, or overflows from a body of water. To protect against flood damage, odds are you're going to have to purchase extra coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP. Most private insurance companies won't touch flood coverage with a 10' pole.
- Windstorm Damage - Windstorm damage is a completely different animal compared to flood insurance. If your structure is somehow compromised, any water that leaks in and damages your property falls under the category of windstorm damage. This peril is covered by most homeowners insurance policies; but you might still want to double-check just to make sure.
- Covering Your Property - The belongings you keep in your home are just as important as the structure that houses them. Remember the home inventory we discussed earlier? This is where that list comes in handy. Choosing the right amount of coverage for your property is tricky, but if you do it right, it can save you a ton of money.
- Liability Coverage - Just in case something unfortunate happens on your property, whether it happens to a person or someone's property (or both), liability coverage will protect you financially. But reconciling with the cousin who broke his foot on your broken step? Well, unfortunately, homeowners insurance can't help with that.
- Umbrella Coverage - What happens if you need more coverage than your insurer is willing to sell you? In this situation, you'll have to ask your insurance agent about umbrella insurance. This type of coverage extends your coverage limits by hundreds of thousands, or sometimes millions, of dollars. Just remember: The more coverage you buy, the more you'll need to spend in annual premiums.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
Are you worried about how much your insurance company will pay out on your claim, because you aren't sure what these two terms mean? Don't worry; unlike some other aspects of homeowners insurance, these two concepts are fairly simple to understand.
Let's talk about "replacement cost" first. If you file a claim on something that your insurance policy promises to replace at cost, that means they will pay out 100% of whatever it costs to replace that item or that part of your structure. But not all of the items on your policy are listed as replacement cost eligible.
Those claims that aren't eligible for replacement cost are paid out according to their actual cash value. Say your roof breaks, and some of your furniture below the hole in your roof gets damaged. But your policy lists these items as "actual cash value" items. Your insurance company would take their depreciation into account, and cut you a check for their replacement value minus their depreciation. It's important to know what does and does not fall under each of these categories; so be sure to clear that up with your agent when you begin to craft your policy.
How Your Credit Score May Influence Your Rate
Different insurance companies will examine your credit in different ways in order to evaluate your risk. There are two phases of purchasing a policy where your credit score will be particularly important: the underwriting process, and the rating process. The underwriting process is when your prospective insurance company checks to see whether or not you are too risky to sell an insurance policy. If you pass their underwriting smell test, then it moves on to the rating phase. This is where your insurance company calculates what premium to charge you based in your perceived risk.
Different companies will handle your credit evaluation in different ways. Some may not require your credit history at all during either of the two phases mentioned above. Other companies may only need it for the underwriting phase, while others will only request it when they finally rate you. Lastly, there are insurers out there who will request your credit history for both of these phases. Talk to your insurance agent to find out how their company handles a customer's credit history; if you play your cards right, you can get some serious savings for having good credit!
For more information, feel free to click any of the links you see in this article. They all lead to more detailed information about homeowner's insurance, specifics on purchasing a policy, and how to find the best deal. You should also contact local resources in your state, such as:
Or contact them directly through the following resources:
New Hampshire Insurance Department
21 South Fruit Street, Suite 14
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: 603.271.2261 | Fax: 603.271.1406