Tips for Selecting Homeowners' Insurance
1. Get past the advertising fluff. When selling your home and buying a new one, your mailbox becomes a sieve of solicitations—and one of the front-line offenders are homeowners’ insurance companies. They’re often printed on pricey paper stock and feature florid writing poetically telling you how they can help you protect your home and all the prized possessions it contains, better than any other company can. Just because a company has the advertising budget for big mailings, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. It’s quite possible that the homeowner might do just fine with a company that sends them a mailing—but they might do even better with another company that never sends solicitation mailings. The boil-down is this: don’t just go with the first thing you see, even if it seems good.
2. Consult the state’s resources. Choosing from a huge array of large national insurance companies can be daunting; that’s why it’s a good idea to start with the state. South Carolina has a web site that has a Consumer Services page. Finally,this site also list consumer complaints against particular companies from residents SC.
3. Make sure the coverage is not only extensive, but appropriate for you. A homeowner may come across a potential company with a good service record and reputation, but that doesn’t mean its ideal for them. Look at the details of what the company focuses on. If a company looks great overall, but they emphasize flooding and water damage in all their marketing materials, it’s not going to be right for you if you live in the upper state —no matter how great a company it is. Make sure the company’s strong points match the needs of your particular home and geographical area.
4. Familiarize yourself with the claim process. The insurance company might advertise the fact that you can make frequent claims for repairs, but many companies hike up your premium if you frequently file small claims. This isn’t necessarily unethical, as it’s often stated in the fine print, but it could definitely hurt your wallet; that’s why it’s smart to ask up front how both routine/small and catastrophic claims might affect premiums. At the most, asking will ultimately save you money, i.e., you can do a small repair yourself instead of filing a claim for it, and ultimately the money you spend on the repair might be less than the premium hike.
5. Know the condition of your home. It’s impossible to effectively choose homeowners’ insurance unless you know the condition of your home inside and out. For instance, if you have a roof that’s prone to leakiness and not in the best shape, you’ll obviously want to avoid a policy that doesn’t cover this sort of thing. The best way to learn about issues in your home is to get a home inspection of your new home by a certified, reputable home inspector. The home inspector will examine your new home for any potential faults and issues to watch for; this is incredibly powerful ammunition in choosing the right homeowners’ insurance, and can save a lot of money in the event anything goes wrong and you find yourself in the claim-filing process.