Home Insurance is something that everyone needs, regardless of how much money they put down on their home. Home Insurance is similar to car insurance because it will protect you in case of accidents, theft, liability, vandalism, and most weather-related events. This blog will serve as a guide to help you work through what home insurance is, why it’s important, and which coverages you should buy. The type of home insurance you buy will depend a lot on where you live, how expensive your home is, is your home new or old, and how much money you have. We will also discuss how to reduce the overall cost of homeownership and insurance to give you the tools you need to save money and prosper, even during the crazy times we live in today.
What does USAA Homeowners Insurance cover?
Understanding what you’ll have covered in your home insurance is one of the most important things to understand before you spend your money. The majority of insurance companies cover the same things, but vary on the percentages they’ll reimburse. Regardless of how I feel about USAA as a company, they do offer great insurance for its members, especially active-duty members. The list of events covered also depends on the types of protections and coverages you choose to buy. Keep in mind that the more protections and coverages you buy for your home, the more money you’ll spend on insurance.
One of the most basic forms of insurance is covering damages sustained to your home and belongings if you were to have a fire break out in your home. According to the Insurance Information Institute and the Verisk Wildfire Risk Analysis, 4.5 million homes in the United States are at high risk of getting caught up in a wildfire. With 2 million of those homes being in the state of California, fire coverage is more important than ever before. According to the Department of Interior (DOI), 90% of wildfires are caused by human negligence from unattended campfires to discarded cigarette butts.
Why Should I Buy Fire Protection For My Home?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 27% of all reported fires occurred in someone’s home. U.S. fire departments across the country respond to an average of 354,400 home structure fires per year. More than 2,620 people die from home fires every year and 11,220 Americans are injured in home fires. Most fires are caused by cooking, heating, electrical distribution, lighting equipment, intentional fires (insurance fraud), and smoking (cigarettes, cigars, etc…). My intention with this information is to educate each homeowner to make the best decision for their family, not to scare you. Please understand that having fire protection will help you offset the cost repairs, structural loss, and replacements of your valuables. The most important thing to consider is that a home can be rebuilt and valuables replaced, but you only get one life, so if you have a fire leave your home if you cant put it out.
According to the FBI, there were 5,217,055 thefts in the United States in 2018 alone. 72.5% of all property crimes in 2018 were from theft or larceny with an average of $1,153 taken per offense. The astounding figure is that an estimated $6 billion was lost to theft in 2018, which should be enough to convince you of the need for theft protection. Having theft coverage on your home could save you from paying for replacements out-of-pocket. I also highly recommend having a home-defense weapon to protect your family if someone does break into your home and steals your belongings. If you’re in the market for a self-defense gun, I recommend reading our Mossberg Maverick 88 blog. If you already have a self-defense gun to protect your home, having a proper home security system is instrumental in preventing theft from your home. I recommend starting your research with ADT, Lifeshield, Vivint, Protect America, or Guardian Protection.
The majority of weather-related damages are caused by severe thunderstorms, winter storms, extreme cold, flooding, flash floods, Earthquakes, Hurricanes/Cyclones, and wildfires. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Tornadoes cause $11.23 billion in damages, while hurricanes cause $11.28 billion every year in the United States. With billions of dollars spent every year on natural disasters, it’s paramount to ensuring your home is protected against events that are out of your control. One caveat to consider is the fact that many locations near the oceans have either increased insurance premiums or simply don’t cover your home for hurricane damage or flooding from hurricanes.
According to the FBI, there are over 7,196,045 property damages every year in the United States. Vandalism normally occurs in public places, such as schools, subways, trainyards, and government buildings. However, you should be protected if someone decides to spray paint the side of your home, especially if you have an expensive Hardy board instead of vinyl sidings.
Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in America today due to the advances in technology and access to the internet. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there were 3.2 million identity fraud cases in the United States reported in 2019. The FTC also claims that identity theft cost Americans $1.9 billion in fraudulent claims, which is an increase of $293 million from 2018. It’s very important to keep your home protected from people making fraudulent claims against you and your home by buying identity theft protection from USAA.
How Can I Protect Myself Against Identity Theft?
According to the FTC, the best way to protect yourself against identity theft is to get credit monitoring and identity monitoring services on your credit cards and bank accounts. This service has saved me from identity theft multiple times with text and phone call alerts from USAA. They will freeze your account if a purchase has been made that you haven’t authorized. USAA will alert you if any company checks your credit score, if you apply for a loan, apply for a credit card, your credit score changes, or if there is a lawsuit against you for potential fraud. These alerts will give you the time you need to figure out if your identity has been compromised and used to make purchases under your account.
Identity monitoring services alert you when your social security number, driver’s license, or passport is being used in an uncommon way. For example, if you live in Colorado and your Passport has been scanned in Germany, USAA will alert you to ask you if you’re traveling. USAA will alert you anytime if you change your address, open a social media account, apply for a payday loan, show up on an arrest report, and cash large checks that are abnormal for your financial situation.
What Are The Types of Coverages USAA Offers?
Now that we’ve got the types of situations and events covered by USAA, it’s time to discuss the different coverages to buy, depending on your needs and budget. USAA offers 7 different types of coverages to combine into your package. It’s important to consider your overall budget because combining all 7 coverages can get very expensive. Also, think about what you actually need versus what you want in your coverage. For example, if you live on the East coast, you probably don’t need Earthquake insurance. However, if you live in California or Washington, you’ll certainly need Earthquake insurance to protect your home against sinkholes and damages.
Dwelling coverage is a must for every homeowner because it covers the repair or rebuilding cost if your home is damaged by one of the events above. Every homeowner has dwelling coverage since it acts as a catch-all for protecting your home.
Loss of Use
If your home is burned to the ground or a tornado flattens it like a pancake, the loss of use coverage is enacted. This coverage is great because it covers all your living expenses if your home is not liveable. USAA will cover these expenses until you’re able to find another place to live or take a cash settlement. For example, if your family has to go to a hotel and eat at restaurants until you can find a home, USAA will cover those expenses.
USAA will cover the cost to repair or replace any of your personal belonging that may be damaged or destroyed during a covered event. For example, if your home is destroyed by a fire and you lost valuable jewelry, art, keepsakes, or electronics, USAA will send an appraiser to your home and replace everything you lost. This is why it’s very important to document all of your valuables with pictures and receipts, if possible.
Liability coverage kicks in if you are deemed to be legally responsible for the damage to another person or their property. For example, if you’re having a family BBQ and coals get taken by the wind and catch someone’s house on fire, USAA will pay for the cost of repairs. I hate that we need personal liability coverage, but in today’s world, we need to be protected against anything that is thrown our way.
Home Sharing Coverage
This coverage is for someone who has a rental property or rents a room in their home to someone other than family. If something happens to your guests while in your rental property, you could be liable for damages. USAA will cover those costs if you have Home Sharing insurance.
The other structures insurance protects things like your garage, storage shed, fence, and driveway from any damages they may incur. I always recommend this coverage if you have any of those things, because garage doors can be fickle and expensive to replace. Storage sheds can rot and allow water damage to ruin your stored valuables. Depending on what your fence is made of, they can be very difficult to replace and can cost upwards of $10,000 for a nice hardy board or synthetic composite.
Earthquake insurance is pretty straight forward and easy to understand. USAA will cover the damage of your home for whatever it’s appraised at before the damage. I highly recommend looking up your location to see the likelihood of suffering from an Earthquake.