Opinion

John Wasik

Getting the best rates on homeowner insurance policies

Dec 19, 2011 20:49 UTC

Dec 19 (Reuters) – In just the last year alone, we’ve seen
epic snow, wind, fire and rain. There were a record 12 extreme
weather events in 2011 according to the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, each causing at least $1 billion in
damages. With climate change rearing its ugly head, Mother
Nature may even become surlier. Depending upon where you live,
that means it may be more difficult to find affordable
insurance coverage.

I routinely shop this time of year for the best homeowner’s
policy, and I’ve found that it’s gotten more complicated than
ever. Several insurers have put in exemptions for certain kinds
of storm damage while others insure less by low-balling the
replacement cost of my house.

Since my policy is hovering around $1,000 a year – it’s
climbed in recent years by $200 – I was hoping to find a better
deal. So I asked Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the
Consumer Federation of America, how I should vet homeowner’s
policies.

The most fundamental question he says to ask is how much
coverage do you need? That’s largely dependent upon where you
live, the value of your home and how much you want to pay. The
first rule of thumb is the higher the deductible, the lower the
premium. You’ll need to replace your home and its contents and
need to be compensated for loss of use in case of catastrophic
damage.

Watch out for some sneaky anti-consumer language, though.
Hunter notes that several insurers have loaded policies
recently with “anti-concurrent causation clauses.” Although it
sounds like a blow to the head, if you’re hit with wind and
water damage at the same time, you’re not covered for either,
so you have to avoid that kind of policy.

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Dec 18, 2011 22:32 UTC

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Dec 17, 2011 02:59 UTC

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Why are rock-bottom mortgage rates so hard to get?

Dec 16, 2011 17:45 UTC

By John Wasik

(Reuters) – With home mortgage rates still hovering around record lows – and they may fall further still – this should be the perfect time to lower your borrowing costs.

Yet with tough standards and more people in a home-equity hole due to the housing slump, it’s difficult to get the best rates. There are some ways to improve your odds and a revamped government program might help, but you’ll have to jump through some hoops to sweeten your loan application.

Mortgage applications are surging, largely due to refinancings. Weekly applications climbed 4.1 percent through December 14, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The share of refinancing loans was the highest recorded rate this year.

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Dec 16, 2011 14:22 UTC

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Dec 16, 2011 14:11 UTC

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Dec 12, 2011 17:11 UTC

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