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Finding rates for the best home owners insurance coverage for your property in many ways is less complex than finding the best coverage for other types of insurance. Because the policies are largely standardized, when compared to medical insurance or life insurance, comparing apples to apples is much easier with home owners insurance. Best coverage options are easier to identify because it is easier to make comparisons.

Homeowner's insurance policies for one to four family homes are mostly HO-3 policies. This means that although there may be some small differences from policy to policy and company to company, the differences you find are small and less significant than the parts of the policies that are the same. The business goal of the marketing department of the major companies is to make you focus on the differences between the policies and the companies, but for the most part the differences are small or nonexistent.

You can expect that your policy will provide coverage for the following:

Dwelling Coverage

The thing that you probably call “your house” is what the insurance contract means when it refers to “the dwelling.” This coverage does not generally include personal property that is not permanently attached to the house like furniture or clothing. Coverage for the replacement of personal property is covered separately. It also does not cover the land your house sits on. Unlike your personal property, you will find that the coverage for the land isn't provided elsewhere in the policy.

(Knowing that your land isn't covered may help you lower your rates and save money. This is because you may need less coverage than you think. You need enough coverage to rebuild your home on the same land, not to buy another home that includes the cost of the land.)

The coverage provided for your dwelling by an HO-3 policy is very comprehensive. There are eight standard exclusions and you should read your policy carefully so that you understand them. However, most perils that cause a direct loss to your dwelling are covered.

The concept of direct loss is an important one. An example of a direct loss is a broken window caused by a storm. An indirect loss might be caused by the rain that comes in after the window is broken. The contract should provide coverage for damage caused by rain that comes in right during a reasonable period that starts immediately after the window is broken by the storm. But you have a contractual obligation to protect your property against the indirect loss that occurs after a reasonable amount of time has passed. Your contract will not cover damage that occurs after you have an opportunity to have provided some sort of protective barrier to keep additional water from coming into your home through the broken window.

Other Structures

Other structures might include a shed or a detached garage. The coverage for other structures is similar to the coverage for your dwelling although the dollar limit will typically be much lower.

Other structures do not include structures that are attached to your home. An example of this would be an attached garage. An attached garage is considered part of the dwelling for insurance purposes.

Personal Property

Personal property includes anything that you own that isn't real property. Real property is land and structures permanently attached to the land.

Not all personal property is covered by a homeowners insurance policy, but probably more than you expect. There are exclusions. There is also protection that may surprise you.

Vehicles that are designed to be registered and driven on city streets are specifically excluded. Loss of cash and other types of property will have very limited coverage

However, theft of your personal property in your car or even in a foreign country may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Coverage for your personal property will indemnify you for losses caused by 16 specific perils (subject to certain exclusions and limitations). These perils include fire, theft and vandalism.

Loss of Use

This may be another part of your coverage that you may be unaware of. If you are unable to live in your home because of a covered peril, you can expect that your insurance policy will pay some of all of your expenses to live somewhere else. This may be a hotel room or a trailer placed in your yard.

For many the trailer is a better choice. It allows you to be close to your home. Your presence may save you additional inconvenience and loss by preventing theft and vandalism. Being proximate to your home may make things easier for you. You will have access to your wardrobe and other possessions that may be a pain in the neck to pack and take with you.

Personal Liability

This section covers the costs involved in paying other for damages caused by you when you have a legal liability to pay. There are exclusions to be sure; however this is another section that provides protection that most people give little thought to.

This part of the policy offers another cost saving feature. It may also protect you by paying for an attorney to represent you.

This coverage is not limited to things that happen on your property. It does not, however, cover motor vehicle-related liability, business-related liability nor does it cover damages you caused intentionally. (This is not a complete list of exclusions, just examples.)

Medical Payments

This aspect of a standard HO-3 homeowners policy is similar to liability coverage, but it does not require that you have a legal liability to pay. This is similar to the no fault coverage on an auto policy. It provides less coverage than the liability portion of the policy but it pays without as much red tape.

Finding Cheap Property Insurance Online

Finding cheap or property home owners insurance online is in many ways easier than finding a good life or health insurance policy after just a cursory online search. This is because of the standardization of these policies (car insurance is similarly standardized). However the more you learn about these policies, the more likely you are to get the best deal. Your home probably one of your biggest investments, it pays to do your homework about the policies available and to shop around for the best rate.

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