What Does Rhode Island Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Although there are variations from plan to plan, most Rhode Island homeowners insurance policies cover the major disasters that can befall a house. This includes fire, lighting taking out the central air conditioner unit, pipes breaking and causing water damage, or a tree dropping a limb and causing damage to the roof. Items such as these are covered under a general insurance policy, but damages that occur to your home as a result of a flood or an earthquake are not covered. In order to be insured against flood and earthquake damage special coverage must be purchased in addition to a regular policy.

Also, depending upon the area in which a house is located, many policies do not cover wind damage to a home. Many states have certain areas that are termed a ‘high risk’ for damages as a result of high occurrences of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and hurricanes. If your home is located in one of these areas, your general insurance policy will not pay for damages brought on by the forces of nature. Unfortunately, after Hurricane Katrina, the areas deemed by insurance companies to be a “high risk” have grown considerably. Not only have the southern states bordering the Atlantic and the Gulf been affected by dropped policies and very high insurance premiums, the Mid-Atlantic and New England States have been negatively affected as well.

Although many homeowners’ insurance policies in Rhode Island have been dropped by insurance carriers after Hurricane Katrina, homeowners are still usually able to find insurance with other carriers, albeit at the cost of higher premiums and deductibles. However, the number of people in Rhode Island who need to be covered by state insurance pools has remained relatively low. A state insurance pool is a state-created insurer of last resort where the private market has dropped homeowners coverage or failed to provide initial coverage. It is operated jointly by private insurers who sell homeowners insurance in the state of Rhode Island.

Under this plan, the monetary gains and losses are spread out among the participating insurers. This insurance pool was designed to offer affordable insurance to those who cannot obtain it elsewhere. However, in the state of Massachusetts where 40% of the homeowners on the Cape must use their state insurance pool, this system is already asking to be allowed to increase their rates by 25%. Hopefully, Rhode Island will not follow suit.

OPTIONS WITHIN A RHODE ISLAND HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE POLICY

REPLACEMENT COST OR ACTUAL CASH VALUE

Homeowner’s insurance companies offer policies based on the replacement cost of a home or its actual cash value. Most insurers (and mortgage companies) require that the home be insured for at least 80% of the replacement cost.

Replacement CostUnder this plan, if damages occur, the insurance company will pay the amount needed in order to repair damages or to replace an item. If there is a fire in your basement and your furnace needs to be replaced, the insurance would pay to have a new furnace put in, even if the furnace that was destroyed was quite old. Depreciation of the item’s value would not be taken into account.

Actual Cash Value- This plan works quite differently from a replacement cost plan. Under this plan if there is a fire in your basement and the furnace needs to be replaced, a cash value will be assigned to that item. The age and condition would be taken into consideration and If your furnace was ten years old, you would be given the cash value of a ten-year old furnace.

Most insurance companies cover your personal belongings (the contents of your home) on an actual cash value basis. However, if you are willing to pay a slight increase in your premiums, an option is usually available with many insurance companies that would allow you to insure your possessions for their full replacement costs. Even within these two parameters there are some limitations. Jewelry, valuable antiques, expensive plasma TVs, guns, computers, and money may have to be insured with additional coverage.

If you on a small boat it would be to your advantage to check around, as some insurance carriers offer insurance for small boats as a part of their homeowner’s insurance.

ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSES

If damage is so great to your house that you are unable to live in it while repairs are being made, most insurance plans offer to cover a limited motel stay, restaurants, and even some storage facility fees.

PERSONAL LIABILITY

Under personal liability you and your family members are protected against lawsuits and claims made because of negligence on your part. (The kids left the skateboard on the front door step and someone tripped over it and was injured.) It also protects against claims because of property damage, although this does not include vehicles.

MEDICAL PAYMENTS

This covers any injuries that may occur to someone on your property regardless of who is at fault. It does not however apply to you or any family member living in the home. There are also some exceptions that apply to activities surrounding an in-home business.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

RI homeowners insurance coverage is designed to protect you from loss due to damage or destruction of your home. It’s important to know before you buy homeowners insurance what it would cost you to rebuild your home so that you can know what amount will adequately insure you home. What you originally paid for your home is not a factor in the equation. However, keep in mind, that although the value of the land upon which your house is built was included in what you paid for your home, that value is not part of the value associated with your homeowners insurance policy.

COMPARE RHODE ISLAND HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE RATES

Be sure that you shop around before you purchase. Compare RI home insurance quotes from at least 5 different companies before making a buying decision.