by

Every year thousands of property owners learn what their homeowner s insurance does and does not cover the hard way. It typically takes catastrophic damage and the loss of homes and property for individuals to realize that they don t have coverage. Many people believe that their  all-perils  insurance policy will pay for any damage to their home from disasters such as earthquakes, expansive soils, floods, hurricanes and landslides, only to find out after the fact that it doesn t.

Reading the fine print on your homeowner insurance policy is essential. There are exclusions in all insurance policies, and it is imperative that you know what is and isn t covered by your plan. Sometimes you need to purchase additional insurance to cover damage from environmental disasters such as flooding, mud slides, sewage, leaks and earthquakes.

Some people have come to the conclusion that it s best to know the geology of the area where you are buying a house before-hand. This may be possible for some, but for many people who already own a home, don t have the option to return it or get a new one.

The first step to ensure you are covered is to review your insurance policy and read all the related materials. This includes detailed information regarding what is and is not covered, as well as the amount of your out-of-pocket cost if your home is damaged. This may also mean going through the policy with your insurance agent and making sure that you clearly understand the policy and your level of coverages.

When you discover which types of damage your policy doesn t cover, the second step is to learn more about the geology of the area where your home or property is located. Is it on a flood plain? Do you have to be concerned with expansive soil or other ground-settling issues? Is your area prone to earthquakes or other environmental disasters that could strike without notice? Do you experience heavy rainfall during certain times of the year that could cause flooding? Do you live in an area where there are heavy winds that could cause damage? These are all questions that you need to answer before going back to your agent.

After you have reviewed the area and become more knowledgeable regarding the types of damage your home could face based on your findings, make an appointment with your insurance agent to see about getting additional coverage. You may run into a situation where in the company from which you purchased your homeowner insurance doesn t offer coverage for some of the risks your home may face. In this case, you may need to shop around and talk with other insurance companies. You can check out our Homeowner Insurance Review site where you can research and choose between the best insurance companies.

After you have done your homework and invested in additional coverage, take inventory of everything in your home and all your personal belongings. Make sure that your insurance agent has a copy of this inventory as well. This is vital for getting reimbursed in the event that there is a catastrophe and your home and personal belongings are destroyed. With a thoroughly documented inventory on file, you can ensure that all of your personal belongings will be replaced.

This process may seem to entail more work than you care to invest, but think about how much more work and financial loss you could experience if you have a disaster and your home, personal belongings, and property aren t covered by your insurance. Putting forth the time and effort in the beginning will save you time and headaches in the end.

More Top Stories