Home Insurance FAQs 

My son/daughter is going to college full time and will be living in a dormitory. Is their property covered under our homeowners policy?

Yes, but with limitations. Contact your agent to discuss the coverage provided by your specific policy.

I rent an apartment - do I need insurance?

Yes, because you could be held liable for injuries in your apartment. You would also need the coverage on your personal property if there were a fire that destroyed your apartment or a theft of your property. In some cases the premium can be as low as $100 a year, and many insurance companies let you make monthly payments.

Does my homeowners insurance provide coverage for sewer or drain backup damage?

The industry standard policy does not. This coverage needs to be purchased separately. Most companies offer endorsements for $2,500 to $10,000; some offer more. Discuss your needs with your agent so coverage can be tailored to your needs.

I have a dog that bit someone else. How will this affect my chances of getting or keeping my homeowners insurance?

Insurance companies do not look favorably on renewing a homeowners policy for an insured person who owns a dog that has bitten someone. Injuries can be severe and potentially can result in death. Once a dog has bitten, there is a good chance it could happen again. Depending on the breed, you might not be eligible for standard homeowners insurance with some carriers, even without a history of a dog that bites. Breeds such as Pit Bull, Doberman Pinscher and Rottweiler are some that are frequently listed as not eligible for coverage.

My homeowners rates keep going up. How can I lower my premium?

The first step is to review the replacement cost calculation of your home with your agent. Not having the correct coverage amount can result in paying for more coverage than you need; inadequate coverage could costs you thousands of dollars if you have a claim.

There are several things you can do to lower your costs:

  • Insuring your home and autos with the same company almost always results in savings on both policies of 10 to 20 percent. Renters are typically eligible for this discount as well.
  • Increasing your deductible can be a good option.
  • Take advantage of paid in full discounts or utilize automatic withdrawal for your premium payments to reduce or eliminate billing fees.
  • Discounts are often available for alarm systems, deadbolt locks, fire extinguishers, a new roof, or updated wiring.

Your agent is the best source for helping you find all the discounts your insurance company offers.

I rent a storage unit in a mini-storage complex. Do I need separate coverage on my personal belongings that I have stored there?

No, personal property is covered by your homeowners policy anywhere in the world. However, there is a 10% limitation if the property is at another residence (this comes into play frequently for students away from home or those going south for the winter). Contact us about these situations so we can determine proper coverage.

Will filing one homeowners claim cause my rates to increase or jeopardize my insurance?

Generally, if the claim is weather-related, no. It depends on the state in which the property is located. However, rates could increase or coverage be non-renewed if there are multiple claims in the last three years or a pattern of losses over time. Had a loss? Contact your agent to discuss the possible premium impact. Additionally, let us know if you have taken extra steps to prevent similar future losses so we can notify your carrier.

We will be building a new house. How do I insure it while it's under construction?

Some builders provide insurance until the home is completed. However, if yours does not, we can assist you in obtaining proper coverage. Theft of building materials is excluded by the standard homeowners policy, but some companies can offer a special endorsement. Before you build, discuss your construction plans with your agent so that proper coverage can be obtained.

Is my four-wheeler covered by my homeowners insurance if the house burns down and the four-wheeler is parked in my garage?

No, a separate policy covering recreational vehicles must be in place for the four-wheeler to be covered. This is also true of motorcycles, snowmobiles, or any other motorized recreational equipment. Contact us if you have specific questions about what is covered and what is not by your policy.

Is theft covered by my homeowners policy?

Yes, but there are limitations on certain types of property that vary by insurance company. Typically, the limitations apply to money, watercraft, jewelry, guns, furs, business property, trailers, electronics used in vehicles, motorized vehicles (except lawn tractors), and animals.

I have water seepage in my basement. Do I have coverage under my homeowners policy?

No, there is no coverage available for seepage, even if a water-backup endorsement is added to your policy.

During a heavy rainstorm, rain water came in through my picture window. Do I have coverage?

Yes, generally there would be coverage for the water damage to the interior, but contents may not be covered, depending on the situation. This is a tricky one to answer because of the number of ways water can enter a building; some instances are covered, some are not.

I am planning a trip to Mexico. Will my personal items be covered by my home or tenant's insurance?

Yes. Your personal property coverage applies anywhere in the world if you are there temporarily. However, remember the policy limits coverage for cash and the theft of unscheduled items such as jewelry.

I own a lot with no building on it. Do I need insurance?

In most cases, liability coverage on vacant lots not held for resale or investment purposes, in most cases, is covered by your homeowners policy. Farmland is different. Contact your agent to discuss your situation specifically.

If my jewelry is stolen, will my homeowners policy cover that?

Homeowners policies have a limit on the amount of jewelry covered for theft. Typically the limit is $1,000 on jewelry that is not scheduled (specifically insured). If you schedule your valuable jewelry, the company will pay a reasonable replacement cost for each of the items scheduled without a deductible for theft, unless a deductible was chosen to reduce the cost of the insurance.

Is my hobby a business?

Homeowners policies defines business as [a] trade, profession or occupation engaged in on a full-time, part-time or occasional basis; or [b] any other activity engaged in for money or other compensation. This is a fairly broad definition, encompassing many things that people may not think of as businesses. Taking care of the neighbor's children after school every day, selling homemade crafts, buying collectibles and re-selling them on eBay all of these things are considered businesses by the homeowners policy.

What's not covered for my home-based business by my homeowners policy?

Homeowners policies as well as condo and renters policies, generally exclude liability claims arising from a business owned or operated by the insured. In addition, these policies contain significant limitations on coverage for business property or other contents used at any time, in any manner, for any business purpose.

How do I insure a home-based business?

The solution for small home-based business is either an endorsement to the homeowners policy or a business owners policy. If you operate a small business or hobby from your home that might fall in the business definition, please contact your agent. The best time to discuss this is before a loss occurs.

How do I properly protect my time share investment?

More than 4 million Americans own time-shares in vacation and resort property. A time-share is a form of ownership or right to the use of a property in which multiple parties hold rights to reside in the property for an allotted period of time such as 1 week per year. This concept has attracted numerous resort developers such as Marriott and Disney. But the insurance implications are often missed. The following are some risk management tips to consider if you have a time-share to make sure you are covered.

First, check to see whether your time-share is a deeded arrangement or a "right to use" arrangement. If it is deeded, then you have a fractional ownership in the property; in other words, you are a part owner and your ownership interest will be recorded with the local county recorder or assessor. In this case, this property would not automatically be an "insured location" under most homeowners policies, and you will want to request that this time-share be added to your homeowners policy to cover your liability exposures. If it is a "right-to-use" or leased arrangement, your homeowners policy will likely consider this time-share an "insured location," and an additional endorsement is unnecessary. Please check, however, with your agent to verify this.

Secondly, for property and liability coverage under either type of arrangement, be sure you have received certificates of insurance in your name from the property management company for the insurance for the property, and if not, ask for them. Also, verify that you will receive renewal, cancellation, or non-renewal notices.

Products and services offered through Bell Insurance are: Not FDIC Insured | No Bank Guarantee | May Lose Value | Not A Deposit | Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency