UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Odds are that if you’re looking for help with homeowners insurance, then you’re probably buying your first home. Congratulations, and we wish you the best with finding the right property and handling the financials. But our expertise is in the insurance market, so we can do more than wish you luck with home insurance; we can help you get the best deal!
Most homeowners insurance companies in Pennsylvania rely upon the industry standard – the HO-3 policy – to help residents get proper coverage for their home. The great thing about the HO-3 special form is that it offers very comprehensive coverage (including your dwelling, personal property, liability, and more) for a fairly affordable rate when compared to similar policies.
|Types of Coverage||Coverage Amount|
|Replacement Cost (Dwelling)||$200,000|
|Replacement Cost (Contents)||$100,000|
The vast majority of Pennsylvania is both inland and rarely vulnerable to severe weather – with the exception of Philadelphia, obviously. It’s a port city located right along the Delaware river, near the heart of where disastrous hurricanes have been hammering the northeast in recent years. You then have the added dangers that come with older, densely populated cities such as theft, fire, and vandalism. All of these reasons contribute to the fact that Philadelphia homeowners insurance premiums are nearly double, on average, compared to the rest of the state.
Even though the majority of Pennsylvania cities have fairly affordable rates, you could potentially save yourself around $400-$500 each year on premiums by shopping around. And if you live in the City of Brotherly Love, your savings could amount to $800 or more. But you have to put in the footwork. You’re going to need to gather several quotes from different companies, as well as compare what sort of coverage they are willing to offer you for the price that they want to charge.
Laws and Requirements
There aren’t any laws on the books that will compel you to purchase a home insurance policy; but that’s because there don’t need to be. Your bank will do the job for them. If you’re in the overwhelming majority of future or current homeowners who are making mortgage payments on your home, then it will be a requirement imposed on you by your lender. In the end, though, having homeowners insurance is a great way to protect yourself whether it’s mandated or not. Even if you own your home for 20 or 30 years, your policy will pay for itself overnight in the event that something seriously disastrous happens to your home.
Taking a Home Inventory
Do you know how much your personal property is worth? No, really, do you actually know how much your personal belongings would cost to replace? Because without an itemized list of your home’s contents and an accurate estimation of each item’s worth, you’re making a blind guess. Such inaccurate estimations are bad for you when it comes time to finalize a policy. Either you’ll end up purchasing too much coverage, which will cost you a ton of money in elevated premiums, or you won’t have enough coverage if you need to file a claim. And you’ll end up footing a bigger portion of the bill.
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Choosing What (and How Much) Coverage
The basic HO-3 policy that many Pennsylvania home insurance companies offer is really only the tip of the iceberg. On top of your basic policy, there are many other factors to consider. Such as:
- Fires – As prevalent as wildfires can be in rural areas, it’s surprising that home insurance companies still offer comprehensive coverage for both dwellings and personal property. But they do, so that’s one less thing homeowners like you have to worry about.
- Floods – Residents of both the southwestern and northeastern corners of the state should entertain the idea of purchasing flood insurance. But this may be harder said than done, because finding private companies who will sell you this coverage is rare. The easiest thing to do is to buy coverage from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. You can also ask your local agent if they have any recommendations.
- Damage from Winter Storms – Certain parts of Pennsylvania can get as much as 100″ of snowfall in a given winter. And it’s hard to handle that much snowfall without suffering some damage to your home. HO-3 policies are supposed to cover many aspects of winter storm damage, from frozen pipes to damage from the weight of falling snow and many things in between. But make sure you clarify all the details with your agent before you purchase your policy.
- Covering Your Property – The external structure of your home exists to protect your personal belongings from the elements; otherwise, we’d all be living in fields with a bunch of junk strewn about a giant lawn. Since your structure does such a good job protecting your belongings, most policies don’t offer as much protection from perils as they do for your physical home. If you want to expand upon the named perils for your personal property, be sure to ask your agent about riders and endorsements.
- Liability Coverage – Many homeowners insurance policies in many states, Pennsylvania included, account for liability coverage which protects you financially in the event that someone or someone else’s property is damaged while on your land.
- Umbrella Coverage – Some homeowners insurance companies, especially if you live in a risky area like Mobile, will only provide so much coverage for your home and belongings. If you own an expensive home, and your insurance company won’t provide you the coverage amount that you need, you can always purchase additional protection in the form of umbrella coverage.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
To understand these terms, let’s take a look at the following example: someone breaks into your home and steals your brand new 4K 65″ QLED flat screen TV. If you have replacement cost coverage on it, and there aren’t any coverage limits for electronics on your policy, then your insurance will pay out the full cost that it will take to replace that TV minus the cost of your deductible. Your insurance company will foot the vast majority of the bill, leaving very little of the financial responsibility at your feet.
Actual cash value, on the other hand – which is usually the payout condition assigned to personal property – incorporates depreciation into the payout amount. If your TV is several years old, then your insurer will take that into account and pay you what the TV would be worth if you sold it today – not what it was worth when it was brand new. So after your deductible and your insurance claim payout, however much it costs to replace your stolen television with a new one of equal stature will be your responsibility.
How Your Credit Score May Influence Your Rate
Do you know what the difference is between your credit score and your insurance score? In Pennsylvania, you’ll need to. And you’ll need to figure it out before you start your insurance shopping. Insurance scores are a snapshot of your credit history over the past several years, and tend to reflect more favorably upon you. Your full credit score, on the other hand, is an extensive and detailed history of your credit. When you ask for a quote from an insurance company, ask if they evaluate you based on your credit score or your insurance score. You may be able to save money on your premiums if you choose a company that’s willing to evaluate your credit in a more favorable way.
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:
Pennsylvania Insurance Department
1326 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Toll-Free, Automated Consumer Hotline: 1-877-881-6388