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Homeowners insurance and guaranteed cost coverage

The problem with insurance is nothing in life is ever completely certain. One day the housing market can be rolling along, everyone certain prices can only ever go up. The next day, we’re pitched into a recession, major banks are in trouble and the housing market has collapsed. Because insurance is based on the concept of good faith, there’s supposed to be give and take on both sides of the relationship. An insurer cannot physically inspect every property it agrees to cover. To some extent, it must always rely on the honesty of the home owner to get proper estimates for the cost of rebuilding. After all, if the owner innocently underinsures, he or she will have to pay the additional costs out of savings. The insurer will not be at risk. If there was fraud, the insurer has the right to cancel the policy and avoid any payment. This protection for the insurer is fairly comprehensive. Hence, to offer better balance, most insurers offer guaranteed or extended replacement cover cover.

The point of this cover is simple. No matter how hard you try, no pre-estimate of the cost of rebuilding is ever absolute. It's only when you get on the ground and start work you find out what all the problems are going to be. Costs have an unfortunate habit of rising and it's relatively common for owners to have to sacrifice features of their old home to get the building work finished within budget. But, if you're prepared to pay about 10% more on the premium rate, you can buy guaranteed cover, i.e. the insurer will pay the actual cost.

Let's go back to the beginning again. Many insurance policies have a cap, i.e. the insurer places an upper limit on the amount you can claim. This may be a limit for all standard policyholders, or the cap may vary depending on the amount of premium you pay. The only way you can avoid the cap is by buying the extended cover. Why might costs go up significantly more than you expect? Suppose you bought an older home. It was picturesque with a wooden frame and shingles. If you now come to rebuild it, you can find reproducing the traditional building methods are expensive when you face compliance with the current building code. Everything may need to be redesigned including the electrical and plumbing systems. Once you are talking in hundreds of thousands for rebuilding, paying an extra 10% in premium can be very good value to get guaranteed completion.

Stepping outside the scope of the homeowners insurance policy, some insurers are now offering Home Value Protection policies to safeguard against a fall in the resale value of your property. In reality, this is slightly closer to a bet than most insurance policies and you need to read the terms carefully. Most have a high deductible if you claim during the first two years. Since most experts believe the housing market will begin to pick up again within the next two years, you may conclude such policies are not good value for money. Nevertheless, the next time you're reviewing your insurance portfolio, it may be interesting to get additional quotes for Home Value Protection when you get your homeowners insurance quotes.

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