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Homeowners insurance is to cover rebuilding

Sometimes acronyms work really well. They lodge in the mind we're forever stuck with remembering them like Washington's self-fulfilling prophesy in the the VOTER Act, i.e. Voting Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act. Other times, we wish someone had taken out a gun and shot the clever idiot who thought up these mixtures of letters. Well, here comes an organization begging for a bullet. It's the Insurance Information Institute or III for short. Obviously it was a day when inspiration was lacking.

Anyway, this cleverly named organization has just issued a Pulse Survey in which the insurance industry discovered that slightly more than half the people who buy their policies think the amount of cover is based on the resale value of their property and not the cost of rebuilding it. Slightly more than one-third reported reducing the amount of cover because the value of their homes had fallen and their mortgages were now underwater. Forgive the confusion here. It would be reasonable to reduce cover if the household budget was so strained they could no longer afford the full premium rate. But this finding suggests many mortgagors may now be in breach of the terms of their mortgages. Why, you ask. Because all mortgages require the borrowers to carry an adequate amount of cover. In this case, the amount should cover the cost of rebuilding assuming the building was a total loss. If the borrower fails to put adequate cover in place, the lender can substitute its own policy and add the premium to the monthly payments. It's just too bad if that makes the mortgage payments unaffordable. As far as the lender is concerned, it's your fault for cutting down on the amount of cover.

Let's say you avoid the lender discovering your reduction in the cover but you then have to make a claim. Now the shock is going to become very expensive. Because the cost of materials and the labor to rebuild has been rising while the resale price of the buildings have been falling, it's quite common to discover the amount insured is not enough to pay for the rebuilding. This should emphasize the importance of reviewing the amount amount of the insurance every year. Get at least two quotes from reputable local builders as your guide. This is particularly important if you have lavished special care on the building. The more you fit custom fixtures or improve on the fabric, the more it's going to cost to reinstate. If there's a shortfall, the difference comes out of your pocket. Those lenders have never been the most forgiving of people, so you could end up with your home as a pile of rubble and a civil action to recover the amount of the loan not covered by the homeowners insurance policy.

So before you decide to reduce your cover, remember the purpose of insurance. It's supposed to protect you from financial disaster. Arbitrarily saving a few dollars on the monthly payments may turn out a false economy. Always look for alternative strategies. When you use a site like this to obtain your homeowners insurance quotes, run the process several times to find out whether you are eligible for discounts. It's better to save money legitimately than to hide your head in the sand.

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