Home Insurance Is A Smart Choise
Home is where your heart is—along with a healthy chunk of your net worth. Your house is one of your most important investments, so be sure to protect it with a homeowners insurance policy. Mercyland Insurance Depot can help you get the affordable home insurance coverage you need and the peace of mind you desire.
Home insurance with Mercyland Insurance
Homeowners’ insurance covers more than just fire. Most home insurance policies also include coverage for wind, hail, water damage, theft, and personal liability.
About 1 in 15 insured homes has a claim each year.*
Don’t forget about your stuff! Mercyland Insurance Agency provides homeowners policies with coverage for your personal belongings too. Furniture, appliances, clothing, and even your dishes are protected. Worried about valuable items like jewelry? Additional coverage may be available through an endorsement.
What is covered by standard homeowners insurance?
Homeowners’ coverage provides financial protection against loss due to disasters, theft, and accidents. Most standard policies include four essential types of coverage:
- Coverage for the structure of your home
- Coverage for your personal belongings
- Liability protection; Coverage for Additional Living Expenses
- Flood Insurance Coverage
Things to think about when choosing homeowners coverage
Coverage for the structure of your home
Your homeowners policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or other disasters listed in your policy. Most policies also cover detached structures such as a garage, tool shed or gazebo—generally for about 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of the house.
A standard policy will not pay for damage caused by a flood, earthquake or routine wear and tear.
When purchasing coverage for the structure of your home, remember this simple guideline: Purchase enough coverage to rebuild your home.
Coverage for your personal belongings
Your furniture, clothes, sports equipment and other personal items are covered if they are stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or other insured disasters. The coverage is generally 50 to 70 percent of the insurance you have on the structure of the house.
The best way to determine if this is enough coverage is to conduct a home inventory.
Personal belongings coverage includes items stored off-premises—this means you are covered anywhere in the world. Some companies limit the amount to 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have for your possessions. You also have up to $500 of coverage for unauthorized use of your credit cards.
Expensive items like jewelry, furs, art, collectibles and silverware are covered, but there are usually dollar limits if they are stolen. To insure these items to their full value, purchase a special personal property endorsement or floater and insure the item for its officially appraised value.
Tress, Plants and shrubs are also covered under standard homeowners insurance—generally for about $500 per item. Trees and plants are not covered for disease, or if they have been poorly maintained.
Liability covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. So, if your son, daughter (or even your dog) accidentally ruins a neighbor’s expensive rug, you are covered. (However, if they destroy your rug, you’re out of luck.)
The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit stated in your policy documents.
Liability limits generally start at about $100,000, however, it’s a good idea to discuss whether you should purchase a higher level of protection with your insurance professional. If you have significant assets and want more coverage than is available under your homeowners policy, consider purchasing an umbrella or excess liability policy, which provides broader coverage and higher liability limits.
Your policy also provides no-fault medical coverage, so if a friend or neighbor is injured in your home, he or she can simply submit medical bills to your insurance company. This way, expenses can be paid without a liability claim being filed against you. It does not, however, pay the medical bills for your own family or your pet.
Value of liability coverage
ALE pays the additional costs of living away from home if you cannot live there due to damage from a an insured disaster. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other costs, over and above your usual living expenses, incurred while your home is being rebuilt.
Keep in mind that the ALE coverage in your homeowners policy has limits—and some policies include a time limitation. However, these limits are separate from the amount available to rebuild or repair your home. Even if you use up your ALE your insurance company will still pay the full cost of rebuilding your home up to the policy limit.
If you rent out part of your house, ALE also covers you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.
Flood Insurance Coverage
How does flood insurance work?
Flood insurance is coverage that’s separate from your homeowners insurance. Most flood insurance policies are purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federal government program under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that subsidizes flood insurance policies in participating communities. There is, however, also private flood insurance.
In most cases, flood insurance is not mandatory. But if you live in a high-risk flood area and you have a federally backed mortgage — such as an FHA loan, a VA loan or a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage — the mortgage lender will require you to have a flood insurance policy.
If you’re interested in a federally backed mortgage, check out our lists of the best mortgage lenders and best VA lenders.
What does flood insurance cover?
Flood insurance covers your dwelling and your personal property from damage directly caused by flooding.
Building coverage includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Attached structures
- Detached garages
- Ranges, refrigerators and built-in appliances like central AC and garbage disposals
- Construction materials
- Awnings and canopies
- Hot water heaters
- Light fixtures
- Built-in cupboards, cabinets and bookcases
- Permanent carpeting
Personal property coverage includes:
- Personal belongings owned by you, your household or your guests
- Removable carpets
- Portable air conditioners units
- Washer and dryer
- Valuable items like artwork, collectibles, jewelry and fur (up to $2,500)
Other items covered by flood insurance are the cost of debris removal, loss-avoidance measures like sandbags and the cost of removing property to safety before the flood.
Flood insurance could also cover the cost of doing upgrades to the insured dwelling to comply with ordinances or floodplain management laws, such as elevating the structure, flood-proofing, relocation or demolition.
Home warranties, a product unrelated to flood or homeowners insurance might cover some of the causes of water damage — such as burst pipes — but not the damage itself.
What isn’t covered by flood insurance?
Flood insurance does not cover the following:
- Additional living expenses
- Decks, patios and fences
- Swimming pools and septic tanks
- Currency, precious metals and stock certificates
- Cars and other self-propelled vehicles
- Personal property stored in basements or crawl spaces
Review your policy closely for a full list of policy exclusions.
Flood insurance coverage limits
Flood insurance sold through the NFIP insures up to $250,000 for the building property coverage and a maximum of $100,000 for your personal property. Renters can buy a flood policy that only covers personal property up to the same limit. See our page on the best renters insurance.
These limits can be higher with private flood insurance.
Flood insurance policies may cover the replacement cost of the building or the actual cash value of the flood damage to the dwelling. Contents coverage is always adjusted on an actual cash value basis.
Flood insurance waiting period
An important feature to note is that federal flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period. That means the NFIP policy you buy today won’t kick in until that time period has elapsed.
You may, however, be able to get covered more quickly through private coverage. Some private insurers allow you to be covered 10 or 14 days from the time you open and pay for the policy.
Even with private insurance, you must plan ahead when you buy a flood policy. If you wait until you know there’s a big storm coming, it will be too late to be protected against it.
The waiting period is waived in some circumstances, such as if your community has only recently joined the NFIP or your area has just been designated a high flood risk area.
Are floods covered by homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance policies explicitly exclude flood damage from coverage. If this is the only type of home insurance policy you have, then, it won’t help you much when it comes to flood damage.
A home warranty also won’t help much. These products cover repairing the causes of flooding, such as burst pipes, but not the damage caused by such failures. Check out our list of the best home warranties.
Water damage that is covered by homeowners insurance
As a rule, homeowners insurance covers water damage from bad weather as long as the precipitation doesn’t touch the ground before it enters your home. So if a fallen tree branch breaks a window, and rain then floods your living room, the damage should be covered by your homeowners insurance.
Homeowners insurance may also kick in to cover some indirect damage from a flood. For example, if you have to leave your house after a flood, and someone breaks in and steals your television, that loss would be covered by homeowners insurance.
Water damage that is not covered by homeowners insurance
For purposes of your homeowners insurance, a flood is defined as water that touches the ground before it enters your home. causing damage inside, it’s not covered by homeowners insurance.
That leaves you vulnerable to damage from a broad range of possible water sources, unless you have a separate flood insurance policy. Those sources include surface water on your property, tidal water or overflow from rivers and streams; mudflows; and seeping groundwater.
Is flood insurance worth it?
If you’ve been flooded before, and live in an area that’s prone to flooding, you’re a prime candidate for flood insurance; indeed, your mortgage lender may require you to get it. On the other hand, you can probably pass on a policy if your home is atop a hill or in a notably dry area.
In between those extremes, though, are many properties not in flood zones where coverage against flooding may be merited.
The reasons include the limitations of federal disaster funds to help with floods. The assistance may not be awarded for flooding in your area, and even if it is, the funds fall well short of homeowners’ losses.
Also, keep in mind that, where the risk of flooding is low, so are the premiums. Adding a flood policy in such an area may be more affordable than you think.
It’s important to remember that just because an area has never flooded before doesn’t mean that it never could.
Is your home at risk of flooding?
Flood risk can change suddenly, and many times over the years. It’s important to always be aware of your flood risk. This way, you can evaluate your needs and plan accordingly.
You can check your neighborhood’s classification on the FEMA flood maps database. However, take into consideration that most flood maps are extremely outdated and may not account for recent climate change, which has been causing more extreme weather and more flooding than ever before.
Another resource to consider is the NOAA storm history database, which tells you which extreme weather events have happened in a specific location. You can use the data to assess if your neighborhood has flooded in recent years. This information is especially useful for homebuyers who may not know if their new home is at flooding risk.
How much does flood damage cost?
According to floodsmart.gov, one inch of floodwater can cause $25,000 in damages. The exact amount a flood may cost you is hard to quantify, however. The bills will depend on how much water comes in, which parts of your house get damaged and what repairs cost in your area.
For example, in 2018, NFIP policyholders received an average flood claim award of $42,580. Meanwhile, in 2017, which saw three hugely destructive hurricanes in Florida and the Gulf area, the average claim was $91,735.
The average cost of flood damage will continue to rise as climate change worsens and natural disasters become more frequent, say climate and insurance experts.
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