To protect your home from accidents, damage, and theft, you can rely on homeowner’s insurance. But more than its default purpose, this particular contract can also increase your eligibility when you apply for a home mortgage. Furthermore, it can help you cut costs on future repairs and renovations.
Homeowner’s insurance usually has three levels of coverage:
- Actual cash value. This compensates for damage to your property and belongings at their current price, not at the price when you bought them.
- Replacement cost. This covers how much you actually paid for your property or belongings. In case either are damaged, you can afford to rebuild or buy a replacement.
- Guaranteed or extended replacement cost or value. This allows you to exceed your policy limit by 20% to 25% – a helpful boost if you need to repair your home after prices have risen.
Insurance policies take on various forms with varying levels of coverage. Thus, it always helps to shop around for the policy that best suits your property.
Homeowner’s insurance vs. home warranty
Just by the names of these policies alone, one can deduce that both offer a layer of protection for those who decide on getting one or both. But what differentiates one from the other is the coverage of items under each policy, as well as the causes that merit their application.
The home warranty’s coverage extends to the physical appliances and systems of your residence. This includes your:
- Electrical systems
- Heating and cooling systems
If, for example, you have a busted gas range, you call the home warranty company instead of an independent repairman. A contractor whose specialization is gas ranges will come over to look into the issue. If the cause of the issue is covered by the home warranty (usual wear and tear or item is nearing its end of life) then the company will shoulder expenses for its repair or replacement. Your financial obligations under the home warranty only extend to payment of a fee for every service call made plus the yearly premium.
A home or homeowner’s insurance, for its part, provides you with financial protection in the event of damage or loss to your home and your personal belongings brought about by certain force majeure events (e.g., fire, war).
The homeowner’s insurance will be tackled in detail in the succeeding paragraphs.
Questions to answer:
- What does homeowner’s insurance cover?
- What are the types of homeowner’s insurance policies in Wisconsin?
- Is there insurance for vacant homes in Wisconsin?
- How much does Wisconsin home insurance cost?
- How do I choose the best insurance policy for me?
What does homeowner’s insurance cover?
There may be a good number of homeowner insurance policies out there, each with their own specified coverage, but all these share a common trait: they help you pay for the following:
- Home repairs and replacement of your belongings
- Liability coverage
- Medical payments
- Additional living expenses
Depending on your provider, homeowner’s insurance can help you repair your property if it is damaged by fire, natural occurrences (like hurricanes or lightning), or vandalism. This assistance usually extends to repairs on your home’s roof, walls, floors, foundation, and even built-in appliances.
Homeowner’s insurance also allows for the replacement of lost or damaged belongings by up to 50% to 70% of the insurance amount. This means if your house is insured at $300,000, you can be covered by at least $150,000.
Say you have a dog and that dog bites a neighbor, you can rely on homeowner’s insurance to pay for that neighbor’s medical bills. If another neighbor slips on ice by your driveway and decides to sue you for damages, homeowner’s insurance will cover your legal fees and fines. And if your children visit a third neighbor and break their antique grandfather clock, you can pay for a replacement using homeowner’s insurance.
Without looking for who is at fault, homeowner’s insurance helps you pay for medical bills if someone outside your family is injured on your property. Basic coverage for this kind of emergency is often around $1,000 per person and is usually given within a year of the accident.
In the event that you need to rent out a place or live in a hotel while your house undergoes major repairs, homeowner’s insurance can cover your rent or hotel accommodations, meals, and other living expenses. Just make sure to follow your insurance policy’s daily and total spending limits.
In choosing the best insurance policy for your home, make sure to know the types of damages each cover. Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies usually do not cover:
- Windstorm damage
- Water damage caused by floods, surface water, overflowing bodies of water, or backed-up sewage
- The loss of a pet
- Automobile damage
- Damage from war, nuclear threat, neglect, earth movement, or power failure
These usually call for an additional insurance policy, so make sure to find out the common causes of property damage in your area.
In Wisconsin, residents usually spend extra on policies that cover:
- Flood damage. Usually not covered in standard homeowner’s insurance policies, floods are a common concern in Wisconsin. The last major flood happened in 2016 after heavy rains caused Oronto Creek to overflow. Floodwaters raged through Saxon Harbor and the rest of Northwest Wisconsin, causing over $14 million in damages. To prepare for a deluge of this nature, ask your insurance provider to help you sign up for a policy under the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Sinkholes. In Wisconsin, sinkholes are at most 10 feet deep. While they are not as deep as sinkholes in other states, it still pays to be insured because you’ll never know when one suddenly appears on your property and causes destruction of your home and/or personal belongings.
- Damaged equipment or property. Windstorms are a common occurrence in Wisconsin, with enough power to blow roofs off or throw heavy branches onto your sidings. These changes in weather could even damage your heating. For damage caused by extreme weather like these, an additional insurance policy can help.
What are the types of homeowner’s insurance policies in Wisconsin?
You have a good number of choices for insurance policies in Wisconsin. Each one offers financial protection for various combinations of perils or causes of damage. Make sure you study each and every one of them to find out which will provide you with the widest coverage for your budget.
We have seven of the most common insurance policies in Wisconsin below.
- Broad Form (HO-2)
Covers your home in the event of these 16 perils:
- Windstorm or hail
- Damage from vehicles or aircrafts
- Broken glass
- Removing hazardous property
- Building collapse
- Freezing, leaking, or steaming caused by plumbing, air conditioning, heating, or home appliances
- Falling objects
- Damage caused by the weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Bursting steam or hot water systems
An HO-3 has almost the same coverage as the Broad Form insurance in the sense that the above-mentioned conditions are also covered by it. But the HO-3 offers five more categories under its coverage:
- Your home and the structures attached to it, like a garage, porch, or deck;
- Unattached structures, like a shed, pool, or free-standing garage;
- The current value of your personal property damaged by specific perils;
- Additional living expenses if you have to move out of your house to repair damage caused by certain perils; and
- Personal liability coverage
Though uncommon in Wisconsin, an HO-5 is an open peril policy with few exclusions. This means that you need not go out of your way to prove that your property was damaged by the hazards listed in your policy. If you have a number of expensive belongings, live in a high-value home, or reside in a new house far away from flood or landslide zones, this policy is for you.
This homeowner’s insurance policy protects older houses from major damage. Insurance companies also offer this to homeowners whose properties have not qualified for other policies.
A dwelling policy insures your primary residence and your belongings but does not cover personal liability. Homes insured by a dwelling policy do not qualify for other types of homeowner’s insurance because they are usually unoccupied for months or are under construction. Seasonal homes, homes with five boarders, four-unit apartment complexes, and some mobile homes may also qualify for this policy.
If you are renting a property, you still need to protect your belongings with a Tenants Form. Insuring your home from the same perils as a Broad Form policy, an HO-4 policy also covers personal liability protection, additional living expenses, and medical payments.
While your building owner insures the structure and common walls, grounds, and properties, you will need to protect your unit and belongings with an HO-6 policy. This unit-owners policy also gives you the means to pay up to $1,000 in additional fees charged by your association should you incur damage to the building’s common areas.
Is there insurance for vacant homes in Wisconsin?
Yes, there is such a thing as a vacant home insurance policy. This insures your empty property from emergencies and theft.
While a Dwelling Policy financially protects an unoccupied home, it does not protect you from personal liability. Also, standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover repairs for damage to your home while you were gone for months. You would still have to pay for these costs yourself. But with unoccupied or vacant home insurance, you are better covered.
Unoccupied or vacant home insurance can come in two forms:
- As your home’s main insurance policy
- As an add-on or endorsement to your standard homeowner’s insurance policy
This insurance policy usually provides financial assistance for damage to a structure caused by:
- Smoke or water intrusions from leaky pipes or faulty sprinklers
Depending on your provider, unoccupied or vacant home insurance can also insure your house from theft and vandalism. However, this policy does not cover your land or belongings.
Before you pay for a policy, you should also check if your house counts as an unoccupied property or a vacant property. These two have different insurance rates.
- An unoccupied property has furniture and other personal belongings. It is ready to be lived in and is waiting for a tenant.
- A vacant property has no personal belongings. Insurance providers see this as a higher risk because it takes longer to report an emergency for an empty house.
To qualify for this type of insurance you will need to meet any of these criteria:
- Your house is a seasonal home and stays empty for several weeks.
- It will be weeks before you can move into your home.
- You are a frequent traveler and your home stays empty for weeks.
- You will be in a hospital for treatment and your house will be unoccupied for weeks.
- You are living elsewhere while your house undergoes renovations.
- You are renting out your house and are still looking for tenants.
If you do meet these criteria, the next step is to look for a provider. You may consider these national insurance companies:
- State Farm. This company provides a six-month endorsement to your homeowner’s insurance policy and considers perils like vandalism and glass breakage. Their policy can also assist you with repairing snow-damaged roofs.
- Farmers. A policy from this insurance group is good for home sellers. Once a homeowner sells their property, they can cancel the vacant home insurance policy and be reimbursed for the amount they did not use.
- US Assure. This insurance agency, for its part, has policies covering single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses, duplexes, triplexes, or fourplexes that are waiting to be sold or are in the middle of renovations. Its basic policy offers insurance for damage caused by vandalism. Its special policy, meanwhile, protects homes less than 40 years old with no history of insurance loss or lapses.
Should you choose to apply for an unoccupied or vacant home insurance policy, be prepared to pay about 50% more than your regular homeowner’s insurance.
How much does home insurance in Wisconsin cost?
The average cost of insurance for a $250,000 home in Wisconsin is $986 or around $82 a month. That is less than 2% of a household’s median income. While this rate is affordable, the cost of homeowner’s insurance will vary among providers so make sure to review each company’s quote and levels of coverage then weigh your options.
Here are some of the best home insurance policies to consider:
- AllState ($954 a year)
- American Family ($859 a year)
- Farmers ($1,730 a year)
- State Farm ($1,087 a year)
- USAA ($801 a year)
You can get standard homeowner’s insurance coverage then choose from a long list of add-ons that include identity theft restoration, electronic data restoration, and reimbursement for energy-efficient home renovations. If you run a business, you can also insure the inventory you store at home.
You insure yourself from credit theft while also protecting your house’s sidings and equipment. This program also offers discounts if you are between 18 to 30 years old and have a family member with an active American Family insurance policy. There is also a 5% discount if you improve your home’s security system.
Apart from vacant home insurance, Farmers also offers homeowner’s insurance. The longer you stay on their program, the less you will have to pay out of pocket before claiming your insurance. Farmers also encourages greener living by offering discounts for energy-efficient homes. If your house is damaged by fire, this insurance firm can cover up to $25,000 to rebuild it using environment-friendly materials and appliances.
You can beef up your home’s security system and improve your property’s roofing with this insurer. In partnership with smart fire protection tool Ting, State Farm may also provide policyholders with the said tool that spots faulty electric wiring and alerts homeowners to have it fixed before it causes a fire. Like the standard homeowner’s insurance, a State Farm policy covers repairs, liability, belongings, and medical expenses.
Open to members of the military, the United Services Automobile Association insurance policy covers personal liability and home repairs after damage caused by perils specified in the policy. It can also insure a home from earthquake damage, identity theft, or vandalism. When you insure your house and personal belongings using this policy, you can be reimbursed at the current cost.
How do I choose the best insurance policy for me?
To pick the best insurance policy, you will need to answer the following questions:
- What kinds of home repairs or replacements do I need the most financial help with if an emergency happens?
- Which insurance companies offer protection for emergencies I want covered?
- How much am I willing to pay for homeowner’s insurance?
It’s easy to get the big picture of the kind of insurance your house needs, especially when working with real estate experts who have years of experience in helping their clients to realize their real estate goals.
In Wisconsin, Windseeker Realty is just the team you need to connect you with local insurance agents who can help you decide on the best homeowner’s insurance policy to cover your new home or property. We have a wide network of connections in the industry, including reliable insurance professionals who can assess your property and recommend the best policy that meets your needs and budget.
Once you have an idea of your target insurance policy, you can compare quotes from insurance companies offering coverage in Wisconsin. Make sure to check for the following:
- Competitive rates and good discounts
- Good financial strength rating
- Great industry and customer reviews
- Around-the-clock customer service
Wherever you are in the Badger State, especially in Washburn, Ashland, Bayfield, Cornucopia, Port Wing, Herbster, La Pointe, and Iron River, know that we will be guiding you through the whole process with the most up-to-date information. For us, protecting your house is not just a transaction – it is a step closer to building a more protected home for you and your family.