Insurance

Ask an agent: Home is where the claims are

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Welcome back to our on-going column Ask an Agent. If you’ve got questions about your insurance coverage, claims or just pesky random scenarios that pop up — our experts have the answers. 

Today, we’re taking a break from auto-related queries to give homes — and all the horrible things that can happen to them — a little love. What's covered by your home insurance? Does what your home is built with affect your premium? And what do you do when the insurance company wants to leave you with a mismatched roof? Read on for real questions and the solutions are experts gave.

Does insurance cover water damage from a leaking shower?

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We own the house and are preparing to sell it. We went to make repairs and discovered the shower has been leaking for at least 2 years but we just noticed it. I am sure there is dry rot that needs to be repaired. Will my homeowners insurance cover this?

-Overwet in Oregon

Most homeowners policies cover water damage unless that coverage is specifically excluded. Look at your policy to see what coverages are included. If water damage is covered on your policy, it's important to also understand the limits (the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for these damages). ​

It's also important to note that if the insurance company determines you were negligent for not noticing the damage for an extended period of time (if there were obvious signs), they may not cover the claim. Of course, if this was an issue behind the walls, this might well not be the case. If you have more questions as to what is covered through your policy, you can always contact your insurance carrier. 

Good luck with your repairs and future home sale!

Is the type of siding on a house, like vinyl, a rating factor for insurance premiums?

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We are building a house and are trying to be thoughtful as we decide what type of siding. We prefer brick or hardie board but it is very expensive so we are looking into vinyl. Does having vinyl raise your policy rate more than brick or hardie board?

-Go-getting in Georgia

There is no straight-forward answer to what building materials you use for your house and the homeowners insurance rate you will end up with. Here's a tip to keep in mind that may help you make a decision: brick, stucco, and concrete are preferred by most insurers because they tend to be flame-retardant so the risk of losing the whole building decreases.

The reason it may not directly save you money versus a vinyl siding is because of the cost of the materials — typically a brick house is going to have a higher cost associated with it so your overall policy limits would proportionally increase, and so does your premium. So it definitely ends up being a balancing act between those two things on the insurance end. 

Can my insurance company replace part of my roof with shingles that don't match?

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A bad storm a few weeks ago caused branches to fall on my house that caused four holes in the front slope of my roof. However, the insurance company only wants to replace one slope. If the back slope isn't replaced as well, the shingles won't match. I take pride in my home. How am I supposed to live with a mismatched roof? 

-Not on my house in New Jersey

Insurance companies (depending on your policy and whether you have replacement cost value coverage) are obligated to bring your property back to its previous state, but no better. This, in theory, means that it should be no worse as well. By replacing the shingles, it's likely that your insurance company feels that it has met its obligations.

There's no easy answer as to the matching of your shingles. You will need to take this up with your insurance company. If you are unsatisfied with the claim you can always seek legal advice.

Can I keep the contents of my house after insurance paid out for them?

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I recently had a house fire that did significant damage to my home. All of my kitchen and bedroom furniture were written off as unsalvageable. I personally believe several pieces can be salvaged though, and repairing and refurbishing furniture happens to be a hobby of mine. Can I keep these items after receiving a claims payout for their value?

-Ornamental value in Oregon

Your insurance company is likely going to pay for debris removal. Removing certain things while doing so may come with additional cost and typically insurance is not going to allow that.

Depending on the specifics, the debris removal company may work with you on obtaining certain objects or let you remove them yourself. I would start by contacting the claims adjuster and see what info they can give you — as with many things to do with insurance, company policy will vary from insurer to insurer.

 

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