Why You Must Buy Home Insurance Before Closing on a Home

Buying a home isn’t as exciting of a process as it may look like on HGTV. It involves a lot of paperwork and finances to bring you to that happy closing day. For most homeowners, lenders are required to help them obtain the home of their dreams, unless you happen to have enough cash to purchase the home in full. However, if you are like most people, here’s what you need to know about buying home insurance before closing.

 

Do I Have to Buy Home Insurance Before Closing?

Just in case you are still thinking you can get out of home insurance, yes, you do have to purchase it for at least a year in order to close on your home. In order to protect their investment (your new house), lenders will require you to cover your home against disasters. Until you have paid off your mortgage, your lender as the stakeholder has the right to hold possession of your property to protect what is technically their property. Home insurance is designed to protect both you and the lender, which is why lenders typically will not agree to lend you the money for your home until they know it will be protected.

 

How Much Coverage Do I Need?

Home insurance policies can protect your physical house, your belongings on the inside, and the cost of medical expenses for a person injured on your property. The amount of coverage you need typically depends on your lender. However, the general rule is that you need enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home from the ground up in case of disaster.

 

A standard home insurance policy will protect you against:

  • Damage from the weight of ice or snow
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects, such as tree branches
  • Fire
  • Frozen plumbing, heating, AC, or other household systems
  • Hail, windstorms, and lightning
  • Smoke
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Vehicles

 

By having homeowners insurance, you and the lender are protected in the event that the house is damaged or destroyed. Additional coverage can also be added such as flood or earthquake insurance, depending on your situation.

 

Types of Homeowners Insurance

 

Replacement-cost policy–  This type of policy covers the current cost to replace your home. For example, if you were to buy an older home that has unique features, the cost to restore it may be higher. A replacement-cost policy will cost more than a cash-value policy, but will cover the cost of rebuilding.

 

Cash-value policy– This type of policy costs less than a replacement-cost policy and covers the market value cost of your home and its contents. So rather than reimburse you the amount you paid for something, you will only get back its depreciated value amount, which is not something that Langlois Insurance Agency recommends.

 

While some types of insurance may be optional, homeowners insurance is a must if you want to own a home.

 

Please allow Langlois Insurance Agency to find the best policy with the right coverage and price. Let us know how we can help you by giving us a call today at #815-485-2106.  We are always happy to hear from our customers.

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

matt@langloisinsurance.com

Market Value vs Replacement Cost: Which Amount Should I Insure?

Before purchasing a home, you are required to purchase homeowner’s insurance as well. But how do you know how much to insure your home for? Most would think that they need to cover only the price they pay for the house. However, that price isn’t enough coverage to pay for your home in the event of a disaster such as a fire or storm. In most cases, your home’s real value is greater than its market value. That is because market value deals only with the buying and selling process, not rebuilding. And rebuilding costs are much more than the costs to build a home from scratch due to costs of demolishing/cleaning up the existing home, not being able to buy in bulk for supplies, and labor for a single rebuild versus multiple.

So which amount of coverage do you go with? Depends on the risks you want to take. Below we will go over the differences between a home’s market value and replacement cost, followed by the best option we recommend for the average homeowner’s insurance policy.

What is Market Value?

Market value is the price a home can sell for in its current condition. Knowing this price is beneficial when buying or selling a home, but not necessarily for rebuilding. As we said already, there are a number of factors that cause rebuilding the same home to be much more expensive than the home’s market value. Market value is affected by factors such as the location of the home, crime rates in the area, amount of land, proximity to schools, and the availability of similar homes. The most important detail to note about market value is that the price is rarely high enough to cover the cost of rebuilding it since materials and labor costs could be more than when the house was built and one-time jobs are typically more expensive.

Benefits and Risks to Insuring Your Home at Market Value

Benefits: Occasionally, a home may be worth more on the market than it would take to rebuild such as if the home were historical or consisted of elaborate artisanal work that would be worth a lot of money. If you have a home such as this, you can choose to purchase a historic home policy, but these are often more expensive. To save money, you could insure your home based on the market value in order to recover after a loss.

Risks: If your home’s value isn’t placed in the history or craftsmanship, insuring your home at market value puts you at risk for not being fully covered in the event of damage to the house. You would be required to pay the difference between your home’s rebuilding cost and market value in order to rebuild. The only other alternative would be to build a less expensive home elsewhere.

What is Replacement Cost?

Replacement cost is the amount of money it would take to rebuild your home after being destroyed. Coverage at this price will insure your home for the cost to repair any damage or even rebuild your home at the current prices. A building contractor can help you estimate the replacement cost of your home based on the property’s structure and associated items as well as costs such as plans and permits for rebuilding, labor, materials, fees, and taxes. Keep in mind that the land value is included in the market value only, not the replacement cost as the land will not have to be rebuilt.

Benefits and Risks to Insuring Your Home at Replacement Cost

Benefits: You will be able to experience minimal financial interruption should your home be destroyed. If you go with this option, it is best to insure your home for 100% of its estimated replacement cost.

Risks: The cost to rebuild your home can vary over time. There is no guarantee that you will be 100% able to rebuild your home at the estimated replacement cost. To increase your chances of keeping your home fully covered against destruction, we recommend reviewing your policy annually to make sure your amount of coverage is still appropriate for you. Factors that can affect your replacement cost include home upgrades and improvements, market conditions, labor and material costs, and transportation prices. For the maximum amount of protection, you can consider a policy that includes an inflation clause to automatically adjust and account for changes in construction costs.

Insuring Your Home

Unless you believe otherwise based on the benefits and risks listed above, insuring your home for its replacement cost is typically the best and safest option. While, yes, insuring your home for its market value is cheaper now, you will be more adequately covered down the road should anything happen to your home.

Ultimately, when you make your decision, research all your options and please talk to any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency about your situation.

As always, please don’t hesitate to give me a call with any questions or comments — I always love to hear from my customers!

Warmest Regards,

Matt Langlois

matt@langloisinsurance.com

Frozen or Burst Pipes? How to Prevent (and Fix) this Common Problem.

One of the most common homeowners claims that Langlois Insurance Agency receives during these cold, winter months are from frozen or burst pipes.

The words “frozen or burst pipes” can strike fear with any homeowner (and insurance agent!).

Why is this? It’s because when water freezes, it puts pressure on your pipes, which can then burst, releasing damaging water into your home. And, even after you repair your home and clean up the mess from the burst pipe, your home is at risk for rot, mildew, and mold.

So, how can you prevent frozen pipes? There are definitely steps that you can take to prevent frozen pipes, most of which are simple undertakings for any homeowner.

Take care of outdoor water hoses and faucets first
Drain your hose, detach it, and store it indoors for the winter. If you can, shut off the water source to any outside faucets, then turn the faucets on to empty the pipes of any remaining water. Cover your outdoor faucets with an insulated cover.

Use foam insulation
For indoor pipes in cold areas of your home, wrap the pipes with foam pipe insulation. We suggest using heat tape, which can help keep your pipes warm in freezing weather.

Leave your faucet dripping
You may already know to leave your faucets dripping during a freeze. This is because it makes the water less likely to freeze; a small trickle also helps prevent a buildup of pressure. So even if your pipes do freeze, that little flow of water can help prevent a crack.

Open your cabinet doors
Most of your plumbing may be along uninsulated outer walls. Opening your cabinets and letting warm air into the space underneath your kitchen and bathroom sink can help keep the water in those pipes from freezing.

Keep the heat on
Leaving your heat set at 55 degrees (or warmer) whenever you aren’t home is also recommended. Turning your heat down below 55 degrees puts your pipes at risk of freezing and bursting. The cost of heating your home is worth it compared to the cost of fixing burst pipes. I always tell my customers that this is one of the most important things to do if you ever leave your home for a long extended period of time, for example a winter holiday.

Now the big question – What do you do if your pipes do freeze?
If you turn on your water, and you only get a small drip, or worse, nothing at all, there’s a good chance you have a frozen pipe. Make sure you know where your main water cut-off valve is in case a pipe does burst. If the frozen section of pipe is exposed, you can usually locate it by looking for frost or feeling for especially cold sections.

Insurance Fact of the Day: Did you know that a pipe with even a tiny crack can unleash 250 gallons of water in a day.

It is also recommended that you turn on your faucet and use a hair dryer or space heater to thaw the frozen section. Langlois Insurance Agency advises against using a propane torch or other open flame, as that could boil the water in your pipes and cause a crack…and, it just isn’t safe!

Once your water begins flowing, allow your faucet to run for a few minutes to clear out any remaining ice. It is also recommended that you check the water line for leaks and call a plumber if you do happen to notice one.

OK – So Your Pipes Burst. What Now?
If you take steps to prevent frozen pipes but you’re still faced with a burst pipe, immediately turn off the main water valve right away. It is also a good idea to turn off the electricity in that area of your home to prevent electrocution.

And, should you ever be unfortunate enough to experience an incident from a burst water pipe, please call Langlois Insurance Agency immediately at #815-485-6676. We can provide a recommendation for a reputable restoration company to ensure your home is back to its former self as quickly as possible. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency with any questions or comments.

We always love to hear from our customers!

Sincerely,

Matt Langlois

Langlois Insurance Agency
matt@langloisinsurance.com